Joe P from River Ave has an interesting post up (as usual) discussing the Yanks getting away from the bullpen specialization we’ve seen for a generation based on matching up lefties and righties to one where you have a much shorter pen, with 2-3 go to guys who you use for multiple innings and a few other guys you barely ever see. For anyone under 30, the way bullpens are currently used is the only way they’ve ever seen. Actually, this is how relievers were used for 100 years in Baseball, before Tony LaRussa and the age of specialization. Relief pitchers would be called on for multiple innings and would often finish the game. Even closers in the 70s like Gossage would often pitch 2-3 innings at a time.
I like it, a lot. Between Mo, Aceves and Hughes we could have ourselves covered unless a starter gets knocked out early. Then you’d want a mop up guy around to eat up those low leverage innings. If anything, both Hughes and Ace are overqualified for the job. The general idea behind why some guys wind up in the bullpen and other wind up in the rotation is limited repertoire. Relievers typically have 1-2 good pitches, whereas starters need 3 or more. The reason for that is you can go once through a lineup with 1-2 pitches, but need to show hitters a different look when you face them the next time. Last time I checked, once through a lineup is 9 batters. In the case of Hughes and Ace, both have more than 2 pitches, which could serve to make them more reliable bullpen options. Pitchers don’t always have all of their pitches working for them, so they can drop whatever doesn’t feel right and still be able to get through a lineup. Our other relievers like Edwar, D-Rob, Veras, etc can’t say the same. If one of their pitches aren’t working, they’re a one pitch pitcher, and the following results are predictable when dealing with MLB hitters.
Some might say this will hurt Hughes development, but I disagree. I don’t see how getting AAA hitters out helps him. I always put the needs of the club before the needs of any one player. Plus I’m not so sure that Hughes wouldn’t be helped by getting more valuable MLB experience pitching out of the bullpen. David Cone agrees, and says that pitching out of the bullpen early on was critical to his development.
Another thing this idea would do is expose how overrated the closers job has always been. If you have some guy come in for the 7th and throw 3 innings, it takes all the drama out of the late innings. No lesser arms coming in, getting in trouble and needing to be bailed out by the mighty closer. It would be ‘ho-hum, another win’. How Sports are played is always evolving, and innovation can often be an edge when playing other teams who are all doing things the old way. Based on the 2009 Yankee roster, this idea makes a lot of sense.
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