With the Armada playing their fifth doubleheader of the season, I got thinking about how playing in an abundance of doubleheaders might either help or hurt a team.
Before we get started, let's just look at the number of double-headers each GBL team has played or will play this season....
ORANGE COUNTY - 15
CALGARY - 13
EDMONTON - 8
RENO - 8
ST. GEORGE - 7
LONG BEACH - 6
CHICO - 6
YUMA - 3
Calgary and Orange County are far ahead of the rest of the GBL teams in the number of doubleheaders they'll play in 2008. Most of the the Vipers doubleheaders are the results of rain outs (they've had seven rainouts this season). OC opted for a doubleheader-heavy schedule, and the league approved the move.
Now here's where things get interesting. In the GBL, and really most if not all of minor league baseball, the games of doubleheaders are 7-inning affairs. Rather than playing nine innings one day and nine inning the next, the teams play 14 innings in one day and save themselves four innings of work.
For example, Long Beach has six doubleheaders this season, so instead of playing 792 innings (88 games x 9 innings; not accounting for extra-inning games at this point), they will play 24 less innings of play (6 doubleheaders x 4 innings less per). Now for a team like Orange County, which plays 15 doubleheaders this season, they will save themselves about 60 innings of work.
I think the most evident area where an advantage can be determined is in pitching. For example, the Armada rotation has pitched 684 innings (LB has played a few extra-innings games too). Yuma's rotation has pitched 679 innings. Calgary's rotation: 651 innings. Orange County: 641 innings.
As the playoff race comes down to the wire and the GBL rosters set, there is s distinct advantage for a team that plays 43 less innings (essentially five less games) than some of the other teams in the league. The biggest problem I see: if a team that has a weaker bullpen (*cough* OC *cough*) doesn't have to use that bullpen because starters only need to go 6-7 innings, then that weakness is eliminated. More so than protecting a bullpen which might need protecting, when a long-reliever is needed, everyone is available because very few if any relievers are needed for these 7-inning contests.
In 2008, the OC pitching staff has made 203 game appearances (79 of those being starts). Subtract those starts, as everyone always uses a starting pitching, and you get 124 relief pitching appearances by the OC staff.
In contrast, the Yuma Scorpions - who have played and will play the least number of doubleheaders of all the GBL teams - have had pitchers appear in a combined 269 games. Subtract 79 starts, and you get 190 relief pitching appearances for the Scorps. Somewhere in the middle is Long Beach, which has used 249 pitchers, subtract 80 starts, so 169 extra pitchers.
Orange County has used 66 less pitchers than Yuma this season, and that discrepancy will only get bigger as the season wraps up. And I though Long Beach would have a big disadvantage to OC with the 45 extra pitchers LB has used, and the Armada has used 21 less than their opponents this weekend.
So what does all this actually mean?
It means that with a tight playoff race (all the teams in the GBL South Division are within a game of each other today), each teams margin of error is slim-to-nonexistent. Last night, some Armada players were frustrated when they learned that both Edmonton and Chico upset OC and STG, giving the Armada the chance to take over first place. Instead, Long Beach in actuality lucked out. If the Fleet was going to lose last night, then they better do it on a night when both the Roadrunners and Flyers fall too.
Each team has roughly 8-10 games left in the 2008 regular season, with the playoffs starting in September. If one team has a fresher pitching staff, something tells me that might be more helpful than a team that is constantly throwing relievers onto the field like a fisherman shoveling water out of a dingy with a pail.