I've written about Quality Starts for several offseasons (See here and here). Rather than rehash the arguments, those of you interested in the case I make against using them as a fantasy category should just read this. This post being more of a tracking update than anything, the relevant passage is the following:
Perhaps we have found the bottom of quality starts, somewhere between that prorated 2020 and 2021 follow-up. Perhaps 2022 is a dead cat bounce and we will see continued decline in 2023. Given that 2022 looks a lot like 2019, which was the last normal season before the short season of 2020, my guess is that the 1,600 to 1,800 range is the new normal. Time will tell.
It appears that while the cat may not be completely dead, those lives are running out. Quality Starts declined from 2022 to 2023 by nealy 100, continuing the downward trend and confirming the accuracy of my guess.
Beyond the niche relevance to leagues that use quality starts as a category, this trend is another way of illustrating the changing landscape in starting pitcher usage. A reduction of roughly 1,000 quality starts per season over a 10-year period reflects a dramatic change in how teams use pitchers. Starting pitchers are used less frequently and don't pitch as deep into games, relief pitchers are used more frequently and log a greater number of innings, and the lines between the roles continue to blur.
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