Three weeks ago we showed you numbers that demonstrated the escalating decline of starting pitchers' in-game innings pitched (in particular, the decline of 6+ IP outings). We promised to provide some more details on that--and we race the ball coming down in Times Square heralding a new year where the prospects of an interrupted season are as high as they've been in more than a quarter-century. (Talk about dropping the ball...)
Anyway, here's a chart that doesn't give you all of the team data (too all over the map over the period covered to provide a succinct, coherent pattern) but focuses on the top end--both in terms of the greatest number of 6+ IP games over the 2010-21 time frame, and in terms of the teams with the most success (defined here as the teams that made it into the World Series).
The patterns that emerge here are as follows: the teams with the highest number of 6+ IP starts are still reasonably robust (83 in 2021, despite the pronounced desire on most managers' part to be extra careful with starting pitcher workload), and that World Series teams have had a mostly consistent pattern of exceeding the MLB average for this stat by 12% over the past twelve years (nine of twelve years, and e should probably throw out 2020 due to the "very special" nature of that "season").
We won't post all the data, but when we look at the 30 MLB teams in 2021, the sixteen with winning records averaged 66 games where the starter went 6+ IP; the fourteen teams with losing records averaged 51 such games. So you can conclude that better pitchers still get a chance to go longer into games. Some of that could be that their best games get them into the seventh inning before they go too deeply into the "third time through" the batting order; or we might conclude (or, at least, surmise) that managers are not yet as slavish about that concept as certain fellow travelers of the Tango Love Pie™.
If baseball manages to play a full season in '22, we expect the 6+ IP numbers to go up, possibly back to levels seen in 2018-19. We'll monitor that--if the labor situation permits. Stay tuned...