Pittsburgh Pirates Wake Up Call – stress innings are a real thing

In our daily Wake-Up Call, we get you ready for the day with a complete look at all things Pittsburgh Pirates.

Yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates spoiled the Chicago Cubs and Sister Jean’s party by beating the north-siders in their home opener, winning 8-5.

The teams traded blows until the third inning, when the Pirates tacked on three to push the lead to 4-2, which they never looked back from.

It was in that third inning that I was struck by the effect that a “stress inning” can have on a pitcher, Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood in this case.

The concept of stress innings is nothing new, yet still hard to quantify. Of course, a pitcher who can get out of an inning in 10 pitches or less would generally be considered to have had an “easy inning.”

But, what determines a “tough” or “stress” inning? Many have attempted to quantify this, yet beyond the obvious — if a pitcher is laboring for 25+ pitches in an inning, for example — doing so is an almost impossible task.

I’m going to save my best attempt at quantifying this for another day, but it was clear to me yesterday that Chatwood was affected in the third by Josh Harrison toying with swiping a bag. Take a look at the at-bat against Starling Marte when Harrison was on base:

Marte certainly did his part by extending the at-bat against some good pitches, but five pickoff attempts among eight pitches is certainly substantial, and very likely affected Chatwood as he tried to limit any damage.

The concept of “stress innings” still needs some work. Even to the layman, the Pittsburgh Pirates caused some stress on a quality starting pitcher last night in the third, and the result led to a win.


After each Pittsburgh Pirates game, we take to our twitter to recap the game in 280 characters. Think of it as a snapshot need-to-know from the game. Here now is the #Bucsin280 from last night. Follow us on Twitter to see these in real time!

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Jason Rollison

Jason Rollison has been analyzing baseball and the Pirates in one way or another for 4+ years. Jason's previous stops include rumbunter.com, Pittsburgh Sporting News, Call To The Pen and several print publications. He also covers the State College Spikes for the Centre County Gazette (State College, PA) When it comes to analyzing baseball, he likes to take a middle-of-the-road approach, with one foot on the analytics side of the fence and the other on the old-school side. Having said that, he is a sucker for pitchf/x. Jason has appeared as a phone-in and in-studio guests in numerous outlets, including Trib Live Radio and 93.7 The Fan (CBS Sports Radio)