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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Kill the Closer. Free the Fireman.

Kill as in eliminate:

Kill the Hall of Fame. Friday, December 26, 2014

There are some who want to kill the win, i.e., ignore wins and losses in evaluating pitchers...

Enough already! Stop! Just stop the nonsense!

Kill Cooperstown!

Maybe a new form can be created in the near future. Maybe not. But let's just consign the current baseball Hall of Fame to the dustbin of history and let it die with what little dignity it deserves.

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Lefty Yankee relief pitcher Justin Wilson today performed the ultimate fireman duty.  With the Yankees trailing 2-0 in the seventh Toronto loaded the bases with no outs.  Enter Wilson who struck out the next three batters to put out the fire with no runs scoring.

Cardinal manager Mike Matheny recently blabbed that he takes into account the contract negotiating positions of his relief pitchers.  Joe Magrane was a starting pitcher 1987-1996.  The other day working on MLB Network Magrane was explaining how impossible it would be for relief pitchers to not know exactly what their roles are and when they would be used.

Incumbent Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen was supposedly perplexed when the Nationals recently acquired another closer (Jonathon Papelbon) who would cause Storen to be demoted from the ninth inning to the eighth.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

[last lines]
Major Clipton: Madness! Madness!

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From the original 2006 Radical Baseball document, which became the first post on this blog Feb. 20, 2008:

1. Start the closer.
Last night the Yanks were leading the Red Sox 3-2 in the sixth, bases loaded, no outs. Starter Jaret Wright was done. With the game on the line manager Joe Torre called for not his best relief pitcher, Mariano Rivera, but his third best (at best) Scott Proctor. Proctor did an OK job allowing two of Wright’s runs to score. Unfortunately, in the next inning Proctor allowed three of his own.

Torre should have brought in Mariano Rivera, his best. Since Tony LaRussa created this nonsense called the closer with his use of Dennis Eckersley in the late 1980s, managers have adhered to this formula like their jobs depended on it. Part of the orthodoxy is: who will pitch the ninth inning? The closer is used almost exclusively to pitch one and only one inning, which he starts, and only with a lead. Save the game in the sixth and take your chances in the ninth. Is Scott Proctor more likely to allow runs entering a game with bases loaded and no out or when starting an inning?

This brings up another piece of nonsense. The closer is the only pitcher who probably will not need to pitch with runners on base. Why doesn’t he wind up? The starter is the only pitcher who winds up, yet he is the most likely to pitch with runners on base because he pitches the most innings. About 25 years ago people realized that relief pitchers often pitched with runners on base, so relievers abandoned the wind up. But the closer could and probably should wind up. How come nobody has realized that? It’s pretty simple.

In another recent game Torre announced before the game that he would pitch Rivera no matter what because Rivera needed work. Aside from the silliness that a pitcher needs to play catch in a game rather than just do it on the sideline (hey, it’s nothing like a batter needing to face game pitching), why wait until Rivera’s usual time in the ninth? Start him! Here are three advantages:
  1. Rivera pitches to the top of the order. The batters in the ninth are random. Rivera is as likely to face the bottom of the order as the top. Pitch Scott Proctor against the bottom.
  2. In the first inning the game is almost always close. Always at home. On the road it might not be close if the closer’s team scores a bunch in the top of the first inning.
  3. Rivera can pitch more than one inning. If Rivera retires the side in the first inning on six pitches, he did not get the work that Torre wanted. However, Rivera can pitch at least one more inning. If Torre waits until the ninth inning, Rivera may throw those six pitches, get little work and Torre may have already used Scott Proctor for an inning or two when he may have avoided using Proctor at all. Let pitch count dictate how long Rivera works, not the arbitrary wall of the ninth inning. You know, like they do for starters.
Rivera pitches in about 70 games and throws about 80 innings in a season. Why not start him every other game? He would get regular rest and the three advantages listed above would apply in every appearance. I’ll bet that Rivera’s contribution to the Yanks winning would be at least as great as it is with Torre blindly following the formula. OK, now it’s time for you to run around and scream: he blasphemes!
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Are relief pitchers becoming too dominant? Mike Marshall 1974: 208 innings, 106 games, all in relief. Sunday, September 14, 2014

It seems like every pitcher who comes out of the bullpen averages more than one strike out per inning.  Actually it's only about half the relief pitchers...

Willie Hernandez in 1984 won both the Cy Young and MVP awards; 140 innings in 80 games; but he averaged only 7.18 SO9...

Mike Marshall in 1974 won the Cy Young award208 innings in 106 relief appearances, SO9 6.18.   Part of what probably helped Marshall was that his pitch count might have been low because he had low strike out (143), walk (56) and hit (191) totals, relative to his 206 innings.  Those three things tend to increase pitch counts.

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