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Managing the Bullpen

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MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

So this morning, I saw this tweet:

And, well, Griffin is the PR guy, so he’s not exactly impartial. I sometimes think it is funny that Richard has gone from the guy who made a living from hating everything JP Ricciardi did (I was sure he wanted the GM job) to become the Jays PR guy.

But anyway, ‘best jobs of managing a bullpen’? Well, the results were good, so I guess I should complain less.

And there are a few things I’ve been slow to consider about how a bullpen should be managed.

I still think that if you run through enough relievers, you are likely to find the one that doesn’t have it that day. Yesterday it was likely Tim Mayza, but he got out of the fourth and came out of the game after two singles to start the fifth, and Tyler Chatwood stranded the runners.

But that’s a digression....

Part of managing a bullpen, in years past, part of managing a pen was to plan for the possibility that the game could go into extra innings and go long. So, you didn’t want to use everyone in the pen early, in case of that tie. Now, with the runner on second thing, we know that most extra-inning games will be finished in the 10th or, at worse, 11th inning. I’ve always said that I liked long extra-inning games because the manager actually has to manage, not just follow the script as planned out before the game.

Managing is a lot easier when you know you don’t have to worry about the game going more than 11 innings. Having nine guys in the pen in the pen makes it that much easier to manage the pen because you can use five guys today and know you have rested arms.

It does seem like all the rule changes have been made to make managing easier.

7 inning games in double-headers? Let’s make it easier on the managers, make sure they don't have to worry about using all your pitches. Here, have an extra player for the double-header to make the manager’s life that much easier. I really don’t want the manager’s life to be easier. I think it is more fun to make the manager’s life harder.

Many decisions are made before the game now that managers don’t use their eyes to see what’s going on. Trent Thornton gets a start. The decision is made before the game that he is going to go once through the order. But he is pitching great. Things are going well. If the manager is using his eyes, he’d say, ‘let’s leave him out there’. But, instead, gotta pull him now. Why? Because you don’t get fired if you follow the plan. I’ll admit, I liked it better when managers made more decisions as the game going on.

I want relievers to be allowed to go longer (I’d like starters to be allowed to go longer). I don’t see why Ryan Borucki shouldn’t be allowed to throw 3 innings, now and then. But then, with 9 guys in the pen, there isn’t much incentive.

The bullpen has a great ERA, and there are a bunch of guys in it who wouldn’t be without all the injuries, quit complaining Tom.

So, ok, maybe the bullpen is being run fine, mostly because it is easier now. If we go back to a 5-6 man bullpen, if extra-innings can go to the 17th inning, if guys aren’t moved on and off the active roster daily, then we’d see if a manager can run a pen.