This may sound quaint and distant, but in 1999 the Reds had three relievers with IPs straight off of a 1973 baseball card:
Williamson: 62 games, 93 innings
Graves: 75 games, 111 innings
Sullivan: 79 games, 114 innings
With Simonís successful 3-inning save today, my hope is that Dusty returns to more Jack McKeon-eque bullpen usage patterns in the coming days/weeks. That means more multiple-inning relief appearances, fewer relievers warming up each game, and fewer in-game pitching changes.
Itís a bit strange how itís come to this point. The Reds' starters have been outstanding, consistently going 6-7 innings per game. The Reds have one of the best closers pitching the 9th inning of virtually every close game. That leaves 1-2 innings per game that need to be pitched, on average, by six other members of the bullpen. So why are the Reds experiencing so much fatigue and churn in the relief corps?
Obviously, injuries to Marshall and now Broxton have shifted the roles of others in the bullpen. That sucks. And several extra-inning games have compounded the problems.
But I suspect that a more optimal use of the bullpen could be employed. Most of the time when one of the middle relievers runs into trouble, the Reds order both a lefty and righty reliever to warm up in the bullpen. This strikes me as wasteful; the tactical advantage of using a lefty instead of a righty against a tough LH batter is more than cancelled out by the qualitative performances of, say, Manny Parra and Sam LeCure.
Here is one guy's proposed decision rules on how the bullpen should be used in the near future, assuming that Chapman will continue to pitch according to Dustyís rules:
*Close games, where starter lasts 6/7 innings: LeCure or Simon pitches innings 7 & 8. Chapman pitches 9th.
*Close games, where starter lasts less than 6 innings: Hoover as a bridge to LeCure/Simon, Chapman pitches 9th.
*Laughers, where Redsí starter lasts less than 6 innings: Have at it with back end of the bullpen (Parra, Partch, Villarreal, etc. )
*Blowouts, where Reds starter lasts 6+ innings: Hoover, Partch going 2 innings. Return to Chapman if game tightens up, otherwise back end of the bullpen closes.
*Extra-inning attrition games: LeCure or Simon pitches innings 7 & 8. Chapman pitches 9th. Hoover pitches 10 & 11, and then go to the freshest back-end arm from there.
The general decision rules would be: use your best relievers in tight games, use your best relievers for 1-2 inning durations, only 1 reliever warming up (except in rare circumstances), and avoid the back end of the bullpen except in blowouts or extra-inning games of attrition. Some of this will be context-driver, of course. Double-switching, recent usage, etc., should make these rules somewhat malleable.