Rob Neyer has a good piece up, discussing the recent success Phil Hughes has had working out of the bullpen. He writes:
With all due respect to all the fine and wondrous relievers out there in Baseball Land, isn’t Hughes yet another nail in their coffin, value-wise? Good relief pitchers are merely failed starters, while great relievers — Billy Wagner and Mariano Rivera come to mind — might simply be good starters who never got a real shot to start. Makes me wonder if instead of bringing good minor league relievers to the majors, teams should instead focus on good minor league starters as bullpen material
I agree 100%. The off-the-charts success of Joba, Hughes and Price in the pen and their struggles as starters shows just how much easier it is to only have to go once through a lineup, if that. And the Yanks have been using pitchers as starters in the minors who they envision as eventually becoming MLB relievers. Phil Coke is a good example of that. The trend of drafting relievers out of College seems to be sputtering of late, with very few making an MLB impact.
I’ve never bought into this “relievers are a different breed” nonsense. Most of that seems to come from the fact that they have bad-ass theme songs and ones like Gossage and Paps try to intimidate people. But Clemens and Pedro were intimidators as well, just without the drama and loud music. At the end of the day it comes down to your stuff, and the ability to throw quality strikes. If you can do that, you will get people out. Whether its the 3rd inning or the 9th. But to be a starter, most will need at least 3 quality pitches. Joba has 4, and that’s why he is and always has been a starting pitcher.
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