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jojo
01-29-2012, 06:02 PM
Dave Cameron questions whether the modern usage of bullpen arms actually represents an advantage over past strategies.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/are-relievers-benefiting-from-pitching-less/

In his post, there is an embedded discussion with Brian Kenny that is a good listen both for his argument but also because it touches on platoon splits etc. A great line (paraphrased) regarding roles was, "a guy without platoon splits is either a starter or a closer". Kenny and Cameron also touch on the Hall of Fame credentials of modern era closers.

Overall, Cameron basically concludes that the evolution of the bullpen actually has conferred a negative given the number of roster spots the current strategy necessitates and the fact the modern roles often mean a team's best arms are under utilized.

What do you guys think?

mth123
01-29-2012, 06:14 PM
I think modern usage is part of the problem. I'd like to see more 2 inning guys. IMO, the bigger issue with needing so many relievers is that so many starters aren't any good. Starters don't go enough innings and the pen pitches a much larger share of the total. Bullpens pitch around 500 innings these days. I'd like to see that number down to around 350.

kaldaniels
01-29-2012, 06:18 PM
I think the whole pitching situation is screwed up. Without sounding paranoid I think to some extent it is agent-driven vis a vis controlling pitch counts and babying arms. Give me a four man rotation and a couple of horses in the pen. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going back to my cave. :D

_Sir_Charles_
01-29-2012, 06:30 PM
I also prefer the 4 man rotation. I think it's become much too common to change high octane arms from starters into relievers because they "fit the mold" better. Personally, I think the most talented pitchers with the best arms should be starters. Period. Let the fringe guys do the mop-up work.

I want my best pitchers throwing the most innings. The idea of using these great arms in high-leverage late-inning situations...I just don't care for that line of thinking. IMO, those high-leverage situations wouldn't come around as often if the right guy was starting in the first place. I just think that the 1st inning is just as important as the 9th inning.

dougdirt
01-29-2012, 08:43 PM
I think modern usage is part of the problem. I'd like to see more 2 inning guys. IMO, the bigger issue with needing so many relievers is that so many starters aren't any good. Starters don't go enough innings and the pen pitches a much larger share of the total. Bullpens pitch around 500 innings these days. I'd like to see that number down to around 350.

Starters are better today than ever. The problem isn't that starters aren't any good, its that hitters are so much better than ever before. No longer are there 3-4 automatic outs (defensive only players) in each line up (or at least in a lot of line ups). Pitchers don't get "off" for a hitter or three in a row anymore because most guys can truly hurt you. That means you throw more max effort pitches than guys used to, meaning you are spent sooner. That along with pitch counts starting at age 8 these days and guys simply don't have the stamina, for the most part, of guys from before.

dougdirt
01-29-2012, 08:44 PM
I also prefer the 4 man rotation. I think it's become much too common to change high octane arms from starters into relievers because they "fit the mold" better. Personally, I think the most talented pitchers with the best arms should be starters. Period. Let the fringe guys do the mop-up work.

I want my best pitchers throwing the most innings. The idea of using these great arms in high-leverage late-inning situations...I just don't care for that line of thinking. IMO, those high-leverage situations wouldn't come around as often if the right guy was starting in the first place. I just think that the 1st inning is just as important as the 9th inning.

Most of the guys who "fit the mold" fit that mold because they wouldn't work as a starter. They don't have enough quality pitches. Their mechanics are funky and wouldn't hold up over a full season. They don't have the control.

Chip R
01-29-2012, 10:03 PM
I also prefer the 4 man rotation. I think it's become much too common to change high octane arms from starters into relievers because they "fit the mold" better. Personally, I think the most talented pitchers with the best arms should be starters. Period. Let the fringe guys do the mop-up work.

I want my best pitchers throwing the most innings. The idea of using these great arms in high-leverage late-inning situations...I just don't care for that line of thinking. IMO, those high-leverage situations wouldn't come around as often if the right guy was starting in the first place. I just think that the 1st inning is just as important as the 9th inning.

The problem is that it has to be a process that will take years to implement. These are pitchers that have been in a 5 man rotation ever since they were in A ball. Now, all of a sudden, they are in a 4 man rotation. Perhaps someone like Arroyo would flourish with that but someone else might not. If you have a young starter like Leake was a couple of years ago who came up to the number of innings he was supposed to by September. Put a young pitcher like that in a 4 man rotation and if he has success, he might hit 150 innings by August. Of course if he had 160, 170 IP in AAA, then you could stretch him out through September but in a 4 man rotation, that's going to come up pretty fast.

LegallyMinded
01-30-2012, 02:42 PM
Fangraphs had a follow up (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/reliever-usage-redux-a-follow-up/) to the reliever discussion today.

The post links to William Juliano's baseball blog (http://www.captainsblog.info/2012/01/28/grabbing-the-bullpen-by-the-horns-what-is-the-optimal-strategy-for-using-relievers/12773/), where Juliano concludes his own look at the modern bullpen with this:


So, where does that leave us? It seems certain that as a group relievers are no better or worse today than they were 30 years ago. However, instead of advocating a return to the past with the goal of saving money and roster spots (after all, if not wasted on marginal relievers, they’d probably be squandered on below average position players), perhaps the focus should be on improving bullpen usage within the modern theory? The one thing we know for certain is today’s relievers do pitch in more games, but, unfortunately, managers too often defer to the save rule and waste many of these appearances in low leverage situations. If managers would instead commit to shooting their best bullets at the right targets (i.e., high leverage situation regardless of inning), the current philosophy of shorter outings might prove to be the most optimal. At the very least, this hybrid approach is worth trying, especially when you consider that a return to the past approach promises little more than the status quo.

It sounds like a pretty sound assessment to me: Rather than try to change the modern system, just tweak it so that it becomes as effective as possible. Of course, I don't know which would be harder: revamping the entire modern relief system, or getting Dusty to use the bullpen based on leverage rather than stats like saves.

Kc61
01-30-2012, 02:54 PM
I agree with some that the best way to improve this is better bullpen usage. I don't agree that having a closer regularly pitch the ninth is the problem. I would argue that the ninth inning of a close game IS high leverage by definition and suitable for closers.

IMO, as mth suggested, the biggest problem is the constant one inning stints for relievers. It is almost a rarity today for relievers to pitch two innings. It is almost unheard of for a reliever to work three innings.

One inning stints means several relievers used every game. Which means lots of appearances, some times day after day by the more effective guys. No good.

Every bullpen should have three or four relievers who can work two or three innings if necessary. I don't believe in a "long man" who sits in the bullpen waiting for a first or second inning knock out. I prefer several rubber-armed, multi-innings relievers.

Guys should be taught in the minors to pitch these longer stints.

I think this would help matters quite a bit.

Rojo
01-30-2012, 02:56 PM
"The current paradigm takes up too many roster spots and simply shifts innings from your best arms to your worst ones."

Earl Weaver made this point many years ago. It's one reason I'd just as soon leave Ondrusek in Louisville and give a few more innings to LeCure and Bray.

RANDY IN INDY
01-30-2012, 02:59 PM
"The current paradigm takes up too many roster spots and simply shifts innings from your best arms to your worst ones."

Earl Weaver made this point many years ago. It's one reason I'd just as soon leave Ondrusek in Louisville and give a few more innings to LeCure and Bray.

:thumbup:

RANDY IN INDY
01-30-2012, 03:00 PM
Some guys get better when they work more. Gives them a chance to get in a groove.
Go with the "Hot" hand and let 'em work.

Kc61
01-30-2012, 03:09 PM
"The current paradigm takes up too many roster spots and simply shifts innings from your best arms to your worst ones."

Earl Weaver made this point many years ago. It's one reason I'd just as soon leave Ondrusek in Louisville and give a few more innings to LeCure and Bray.

While I disagree with you on Ondrusek because I think he is very good when healthy, I understand your point and generally agree with it. Lecure does pitch multiple innings well, but keep in mind he tends to miss time with injuries. Bray has been effective in two inning stints although last year he pitched 48 innings in 79 games -- a very short reliever in 2011.

I think the Reds and Dusty are guilty on this issue. I don't think a fragile Sam Lecure and an occasional Bill Bray is enough. They should be stretching out more relievers for multi-innings work. Maybe Arredondo is a candidate.

If someone has the sources, it would be interesting to see which Reds relievers (including Marshall and Masset) have a history of two and three inning relief stints. It would also be interesting to see how they performed in those stints.

I do note that the only Reds reliever last year (with any meaningful playing time) who pitched more innings than appearances was Lecure. He pitched 77 innings in 43 appearances. However he did start four games. Coco pitched 69.2 innings in 68 appearances.

Kc61
01-30-2012, 03:14 PM
Some guys get better when they work more. Gives them a chance to get in a groove.
Go with the "Hot" hand and let 'em work.


A few years back, Todd Coffey was just destroyed by constant usage. Last year, in the first half, Ondrusek was used constantly. There have been stretches when Coco was called in 4 games in a row, maybe even more if I recall.

Yes, use the hot guy a bit more, but some of the Reds relievers have just been pounded in recent years. The weak starting pitching gets much of the blame. But multi-innings relievers would help a lot.

Where is Scott Sullivan when you need him?

RANDY IN INDY
01-30-2012, 04:09 PM
A few years back, Todd Coffey was just destroyed by constant usage. Last year, in the first half, Ondrusek was used constantly. There have been stretches when Coco was called in 4 games in a row, maybe even more if I recall.

Yes, use the hot guy a bit more, but some of the Reds relievers have just been pounded in recent years. The weak starting pitching gets much of the blame. But multi-innings relievers would help a lot.

Where is Scott Sullivan when you need him?

Agree about the starting pitching, and you have to know when to give a guy a rest. With that said, I think that the majority of relievers are coddled way too much. Way to specialized. Scott Sullivan or Wayne Granger. Something to be said for the "sideslingers!";)

TRF
01-30-2012, 05:53 PM
Starters are better today than ever. The problem isn't that starters aren't any good, its that hitters are so much better than ever before. No longer are there 3-4 automatic outs (defensive only players) in each line up (or at least in a lot of line ups).

I think this was true 10 years ago. I don't think it is as true now. The pendulum is swinging back

3B in 2000
http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/batting/_/year/2000/position/3b/sort/OPS/order/true

3B in 2011
http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/batting/_/position/3b/sort/OPS/order/true

That's quite the difference, and I picked 3B specifically as it was once considered a power position. It isn't the power position it was. I think we know why.

_Sir_Charles_
01-30-2012, 06:36 PM
Most of the guys who "fit the mold" fit that mold because they wouldn't work as a starter. They don't have enough quality pitches. Their mechanics are funky and wouldn't hold up over a full season. They don't have the control.

Well, first off, you help them develop further pitches. Too quickly, teams give up on that option and just convert them to a reliever.

Lots of pitchers have been successful with "funky" mechanics. But then again, mechanics can be altered.

Lack of control...well, I don't want that in the rotation OR the pen.

_Sir_Charles_
01-30-2012, 06:39 PM
The problem is that it has to be a process that will take years to implement. These are pitchers that have been in a 5 man rotation ever since they were in A ball. Now, all of a sudden, they are in a 4 man rotation. Perhaps someone like Arroyo would flourish with that but someone else might not. If you have a young starter like Leake was a couple of years ago who came up to the number of innings he was supposed to by September. Put a young pitcher like that in a 4 man rotation and if he has success, he might hit 150 innings by August. Of course if he had 160, 170 IP in AAA, then you could stretch him out through September but in a 4 man rotation, that's going to come up pretty fast.

All very true. But it just seems to me that teams find it very hard to find 5 solid starters. We've got 30 teams now, considerably more than back in the 70's for example. With all these teams now using 5 starters, the pool is much thinner IMO. I know it'll never happen, but I think it would be the better solution for all involved.

dougdirt
01-30-2012, 08:06 PM
Well, first off, you help them develop further pitches. Too quickly, teams give up on that option and just convert them to a reliever.

Lots of pitchers have been successful with "funky" mechanics. But then again, mechanics can be altered.

Lack of control...well, I don't want that in the rotation OR the pen.

When you change mechanics though, you risk both injury (because your muscles are built up with the mechanics they are used to) and sometimes can cause a loss of effectiveness.

It is easier to hide control in the bullpen. While I agree that I don't want a lack of control in either place, its easier to hide in a one inning stint than in 5-7 inning stints.

As for the third pitch, guys are often given years to work on that third pitch before moved to the bullpen. Odds are if they didn't get it after years of trying, they weren't going to get it.

dougdirt
01-30-2012, 08:08 PM
All very true. But it just seems to me that teams find it very hard to find 5 solid starters. We've got 30 teams now, considerably more than back in the 70's for example. With all these teams now using 5 starters, the pool is much thinner IMO. I know it'll never happen, but I think it would be the better solution for all involved.

There are twice as many people on the planet right now as there were in 1970. We are also grabbing players from the entire world now, instead of just mostly America with some dabbling internationally. The pool is larger than ever, even with other sports being more popular.

kaldaniels
01-30-2012, 08:20 PM
There are twice as many people on the planet right now as there were in 1970. We are also grabbing players from the entire world now, instead of just mostly America with some dabbling internationally. The pool is larger than ever, even with other sports being more popular.

Off subject -

I absolutely get what you are saying with the population issue Doug. And the thought that comes to my mind is "exactly how good were the greats of the early 20th century?" I know it good be viewed as blasphemous, but everything is relative,...how good would Ty Cobb be against Roy Halladay, Felix Hernadez, Justin Verlander? (gulp)

It's a theorhetical question, so there is no right/wrong answer...but it is safe to say (I think) that the pitching (overall) Ty Cobb faced during his lifetime was nowhere near as challenging as it would be today.

dougdirt
01-30-2012, 08:25 PM
Off subject -

I absolutely get what you are saying with the population issue Doug. And the thought that comes to my mind is "exactly how good were the greats of the early 20th century?" I know it good be viewed as blasphemous, but everything is relative,...how good would Ty Cobb be against Roy Halladay, Felix Hernadez, Justin Verlander? (gulp)

It's a theorhetical question, so there is no right/wrong answer...but it is safe to say (I think) that the pitching (overall) Ty Cobb faced during his lifetime was nowhere near as challenging as it would be today.

If we just took Cobb, in his prime, and put him into todays game, he wouldn't hit .250... in AAA. However, if we took Cobb at birth and put him in say 1980 and brought him up with our technology/foods/supplements I figure he would be an elite level athlete, though not as good as he was in his day because the Majors back then didn't have any colored players, thus lowering the overall talent level.

AtomicDumpling
01-30-2012, 10:08 PM
There are twice as many people on the planet right now as there were in 1970. We are also grabbing players from the entire world now, instead of just mostly America with some dabbling internationally. The pool is larger than ever, even with other sports being more popular.

yes it is harder to make it to the majors than it ever has been as a pitcher. Factor in also that when pitchers in the 70's blew out their elbow they were finished forever and replaced with an inferior pitcher. Nowadays the injured pitchers are surgically repaired with a shiny new bionic elbow and return to their job.

Pitchers now throw much harder on average than pitchers ever have, and throw harder deeper into games. Back in the day a 90mph fastball was fast and 95-100mph was awesome, now almost every pitcher can hit 90 and dozens can hit 95 and quite a few can hit 100. They throw a larger variety of pitches with sharper movement than they did in the past as well. The science of pitching is light years ahead of where it was in the 1970's.

It is harder to hit now than it ever has been despite the addition of expansion teams.

Hoosier Red
01-31-2012, 01:06 PM
The problem is that it has to be a process that will take years to implement. These are pitchers that have been in a 5 man rotation ever since they were in A ball. Now, all of a sudden, they are in a 4 man rotation. Perhaps someone like Arroyo would flourish with that but someone else might not. If you have a young starter like Leake was a couple of years ago who came up to the number of innings he was supposed to by September. Put a young pitcher like that in a 4 man rotation and if he has success, he might hit 150 innings by August. Of course if he had 160, 170 IP in AAA, then you could stretch him out through September but in a 4 man rotation, that's going to come up pretty fast.

I'd think it would be an interesting experiment for a team to implement a 4 man rotation but not let the starters go longer than 5 or 6 innings. You're right that it would have to be implemented all the way down in A-ball and then eventually work its way up, and it would need a GM/Farm director with the vision and stability to pull it off. But if successful, you'd have a core of pitchers brought up to pitch "your way" and you could theoretically scout for a starter who was strong enough to go every fourth day, but perhaps struggled after a lower pitch count than others. I'm thinking of the guy with the Reds who's ERA blew up after 75 pitches.

dougdirt
01-31-2012, 01:24 PM
I'd think it would be an interesting experiment for a team to implement a 4 man rotation but not let the starters go longer than 5 or 6 innings. You're right that it would have to be implemented all the way down in A-ball and then eventually work its way up, and it would need a GM/Farm director with the vision and stability to pull it off. But if successful, you'd have a core of pitchers brought up to pitch "your way" and you could theoretically scout for a starter who was strong enough to go every fourth day, but perhaps struggled after a lower pitch count than others. I'm thinking of the guy with the Reds who's ERA blew up after 75 pitches.

Of course it would make it harder to trade for pitchers, trade pitchers or sign pitchers because guys would be used to one thing as pro's then have to start all over.