Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Innings pitched per start. It's a statistic which is not readily available on the Internet, but it's one which you should try to obtain because it seems to have real value.
The logic behind the number is basic - the longer a starting pitcher stays in the game, the better are his chances to get a decision. And the more chances for him to build his strikeout total.
If Cole Hamels only pitches into the sixth inning, he has less chance to win than if he throws a complete game. How many times did your starter leave a 2-2 game and you wished he went one more inning because the heart of his team's lineup is scheduled up next inning.
Not surprisingly the best pitchers in the game also go the longest.
Roy Halladay, the National League's Cy Young winner, led all full-time starters in 2010. His average start lasted into the eighth inning (IP per start = 7.581). It's no coincidence that Halladay had 31 decisions in 33 starts with 21 of them being wins.
Halladay was one of three pitchers who averaged more than seven complete innings pitched per game. The other two were AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez (7.329) and the Texas Rangers' Cliff Lee (7.575).
Of course, all three pitchers are obvious fantasy superstars.
We're talking the cream of the crop in most cases.
But amongst the leaders are some names you might not think of, or target for the upcoming season and that would be a mistake. Brett Myers (14-8. 3.14 ERA), Ervin Santana (17-10, 3.92 ERA), R.A. Dickey (11-9, 2.84 ERA), Trevor Cahill (18-8, 2.97) and Joel Pineiro (10-7, 3.84 ERA) all had nice seasons and could have been had for next to nothing at the beginning of last season. The highest 2010 ADP of the group was Santana at 229 which means none were likely drafted before the 19th round.
More importantly, if you follow IP/start through April and into May, you should be able to spot this year's bargains. So while the "herd" is picking up the latest "hot" pitcher who is 3-0 by sheer luck, you will be checking out the IP/start statistic to come up with a more reliable long-term fantasy value.