More Specialized Pitching for the Cubs, More TV Deal Absurdity, and Other Bullets

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More Specialized Pitching for the Cubs, More TV Deal Absurdity, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I’ve been binging ‘Maron,’ which is weird and interesting and funny, and I’m at the flip from Season Three to Season Four. It’s the final season, and things have gotten really dark. Really good tv show, though. The wild thing is I could never get into his podcast (and the show is about his life, the primary thrust of which is the podcast).

  • A fantastic read right here, and a reminder that what we’re seeing on the pitching side of things around baseball – “openers,” multi-inning relievers taking over super early, etc. – is really an outgrowth of the “super utility pitcher” concept that started taking root a few years ago. Now, it seems it’s less about having super utility pitchers, and more about putting guys into more and more delineated boxes – who starts and goes a few innings, and then who comes in to go through the lineup once and cover the next couple innings, and so on:

  • Imagine an eight-man bullpen that looked something like … four single-inning setup/closing types, one lefty especially good at taking down lefties, and three multi-inning relievers who are more like mini-starters, and can go two to three innings every three days or so. It’s a stretch, but if you had like four guys who could be in that last role (three in the big leagues, one at AAA, rotating around as necessary), then you could pretty much always have ONE of those guys available on any given day to be your, like, back-up starter. You’d ALWAYS be able to yank your starting pitcher very early if you wanted. The rub? Your other primary relievers would necessarily start getting leaned on very, very heavily. So, it’s still tricky, and there’s a reason no one has quite perfected this yet.
  • It would be amazing if guys like Duane Underwood or Justin Steele could meaningfully contribute next year as multi-inning guys, but as Sharma notes, the tricky part for clubs – where the “winners” will be separated – is going to be in best identifying and then developing the *right* guys for each type of role. Although the Cubs have not acquitted themselves well in developing pitching in the farm system from surprising places yet, they have done very well at the big league level in targeting and managing guys for surprising success in particular roles. So … fingers crossed that it finally translates to the upper minors?
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Unbelievable: the first round of bidding for the FOX RSNs (the ones Disney bought in their merger, but then was ordered to sell off) was full of problems because many of the bidders didn’t realize that those RSNs don’t have the streaming rights to MLB games. It’s like, THE fundamental problem we’ve been talking about for years with MLB broadcast rights and the changing landscape, and it’s so arcane that bidders for RSNs in 2018 never even considered that digital streaming rights for some of the content wouldn’t be included because OBVIOUSLY it should be included. What a cf. And no wonder MLB has considered getting into the bidding itself – one of the most valuable aspects of the RSNs is the baseball rights, and one of the most important aspects of those rights would be the ability to stream games to your customers! Heck, one of the bidders is Amazon, and all they do is streaming! But MLB is fighting with all RSNs about those rights at the moment … again, what a cf.
  • And you’re reminded, the Cubs are still trying to work out their new TV deal in this chaotic landscape. Every time more information comes out about the state of streaming, broadcast deals, and MLB, I immediately cringe at the creeping thought that this uncertainty is why the Cubs may not spend aggressively this winter, and why things might have changed rapidly on that front over the past couple months.
  • OK, I need a palate cleanser:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.