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Something ridiculous that might be worth a try.


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9 replies to this topic

#1 J.F.Edwards

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 10:01 PM

In baseball there are relievers we call "Closers," so I guess I am proposing an "Opener."

The idea is pretty simple: start the game with one of your strongest relievers. One of the setup guys. Treat the first inning like it's the 7th or 8th, in terms of matchups.

The bring the "starter/long man" in during the second inning, or to start that inning, and see how long he goes.

Some possible advantages:
- You know the other team isn't going to pinch hit for one of their top hitters in the first inning, so you can dictate matchups.
- The "starter/long man" that comes into the game begins by facing some of the weaker hitters in the lineup--which is advantageous if you think starters take a few batters to get their stuff together
- Starter/long-men could last into the 8th or 9th, and the other team's top hitters won't see him for the first time until potentially the 4th inning. I think that limits/changes pinch hitting opportunities/situations later in the game.
- Opposing teams can prepare for your "starter-turned-long-man" but they won't necessarily know who they're gonna see in the first inning (I don't know of a rule that says teams have to announce starters until they exchange lineups at the plate, but I could be wrong).

I also recognize there are problems/flaws with this idea but I'm sure everyone will gladly point those out for me ;)

So I'm tossing this one out there: is there any reason a team can't do this? Would it be worth a shot?
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#2 Brett

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 07:19 AM

Love it. The biggest downside, I suppose, is that you've automatically and necessarily reduced the available guys in your bullpen by one, which could be a problem later in the game (if the starter would have otherwise gone 8 or 9 in, say, a tie game).

#3 MichiganGoat

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 07:53 AM

I do think some bold manager will at some point start to radically redefine what a rotation and/or bullpen looks like. We are witnessing the death of the closer and some point someone has to basically say "fuck the closer" and do something different. I love your idea have this "opener" do the first two innings and then move to your starter, but I fear this will interfere with the stats of starting pitchers and thereby lower to stats of the SP, and this would upset them because it hurt them in contract negotiations. If this would happen the amount of wins for SP would go down and although we all understand how the W-L record means nothing, it will scare pitchers from that time.

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#4 Brett

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 07:57 AM

I do think some bold manager will at some point start to radically redefine what a rotation and/or bullpen looks like. We are witnessing the death of the closer and some point someone has to basically say "fuck the closer" and do something different. I love your idea have this "opener" do the first two innings and then move to your starter, but I fear this will interfere with the stats of starting pitchers and thereby lower to stats of the SP, and this would upset them because it hurt them in contract negotiations. If this would happen the amount of wins for SP would go down and although we all understand how the W-L record means nothing, it will scare pitchers from that time.

Maybe. But I could argue that it would help them, overall (if it gives them an advantage over the hitters). Given that a typical pitcher's numbers look great the first time through the order, decent the second time through, and crap the third time through, you could argue that this setup gives the "starter" the best chance to put up six great innings.

#5 hawkcub

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 08:34 AM

Ok I will be the negative one in this discussion. I think there is More Con's then Pro's.
  • As Brett already said you are losing a bullet automatically
  • If every SP goes 6 innings your good but if not you are in a bad position. So even more pressure on the SP to be on.
  • The #1 Set up guy can't go every day so you would have to have your #2 Set up guy go making the bullpen even thinner that day.


#6 MichiganGoat

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 08:45 AM

Brett I agree it should help their stats but I think their is an ego about starting (that I don't completely understand) that some pitchers would resist not starting and not being able finish a start. The same ego issue clouds the whole closer problem. Instead of being professional and doing what's best for the team I fear many pitchers would resist this kind of setup and not want to be part of the team that would be bold enough to make this move. Hopefully a small market team that isn't trying to attract big FA pitching would be the innovators of a radical shift to Pitching (looking at you Tampa). Baseball is due for a radically change to pitching, we've seen it with defense (the shifts). I hope someone is bold enough to make the change.

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#7 MichiganGoat

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 08:55 AM

[*]The #1 Set up guy can't go every day so you would have to have your #2 Set up guy making the bullpen even thinner that day.
[/list]

Great point, this model would mean having a bullpen full of quality set up men. I guess it's not any different than using arms like most teams do now in th 7,8,9 innings but instead of having the possibility of a starter going 9 every game will be at least two arms.

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#8 J.F.Edwards

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 02:52 PM

All good points being made here and thanks for jumping into the thought experiment!

I do agree that if you start with an "Opener" you're essentially punting on the CG possibility and guaranteeing that you use at least one guy in the bullpen. That said, there are some SPs that just aren't going to finish what they start and most starters never get a single CG in 34 attempts. So this could work best for high-BB, high-K guys, or veterans that consistently tire around 100 pitches. I do think sometimes managers know if the pen is going to come into play before a game starts given the situation with their starter (maybe it's not a good matchup, or he's tired, threw tons of pitches last time, banged up/sick/ill, etc). And that seems like a good opportunity to dictate your best reliever matchups early in the game, when you know those hitters aren't going to be lifted for pinch hitters.

There's nothing that says a team has to start every game with an Opener, just whenever managers feel it's an advantage based on matchups and the state of the bullpen's rest/work. Obviously, I wouldn't want to open a game for guys like Halladay, Verlander, and other dominating pitchers that stand a chance of going the distance. But for my #3, 4 or 5 guy, I think it could be a boost, and especially if it's not done on a predictable basis. If I were manager I wouldn't want use the same relievers/starters each time through the rotation. I'd make my choices based on whether it's a good matchup/situation for my guys going up against their guys.

As for how it affects stats, I'm not sure what happens. I tend to think it could boost some SP wins--they don't have to qualify for a win by going 5 innings because they technically come in as a reliever. Some of their crappier outings might net a win, even if they don't get 15 outs.

I threw this out there because I agree with Goat that pitching is due for a makeover. And I was just trying to think of ways it could be different. Given that managers often burn relievers to get matchups for a single batter at the end of games, and there are often bullpen arms that don't get the work they need to stay sharp, this is a potential solution for managers to use bullpen guys at different points in a game. It just means you have to ditch the traditional starting pitcher model. I can understand why some would be hesitant to do that.

But 3 outs are 3 outs whether a reliever gets them in the first inning or the later ones. I'm not sure that's giving up a bullpen choice--I'd say whether it's the 1st inning or the 8th, if my guy comes in and gets their top three in the lineup he did his job. And if he does it in the 1st, it means those hitters might not have seen my starter as many times when they come up again in the 8th. That means my choice to leave the starter in or take him out could be very different--he might be at the 80 pitch mark, facing a guy for just the third time. That's different than tossing 100 pitches and about to see a hitter for the fourth time.

Anyway, I see the offensive game becoming more about getting on-base and avoiding outs, letting the runs come when they do (however they might), instead of thinking about power and "clutch" hitting. I think the defensive countermove is to find ways to get outs more efficiently and effectively. And it's a pitchers job to get outs when he's in the game--why does it matter when he's called upon? (I know it does matter, psychologically to a lot of players, but that just underscores the point: some guys might be lights out to start a game, and we already know some are notoriously slow starters. Managers could play those guys to their psychological strengths, too.)

So if ABs are about matchups, and you want outs, it starts with the first pitch. Maybe a reliever has a better advantage in the first inning.
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#9 King Jeff

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 06:46 PM

I think it would be tough on the relievers to maintain the intensity of end-game situations in the 1st couple of innings, but if they could work around that, having relievers take the first time through the order and then bringing in the long-man/starters would definitely throw some hitters off and give the pitchers another strategical advantage. It's going to take an extremely open-minded guy to do it though, maybe crazy Bobby V would try this out in Boston.

#10 Dave

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 07:39 PM

I've seen college coaches pull their "starter" after the 2nd inning, by design. Problem is, over 162 games, there isn't enough pitching dept to sustain this approach.




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