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05-01-2012 06:14 PM #1
- Join Date
- Aug 2006
As pitchers break down, it is time to rethink the modern bullpen
What a great article, just goes to show the babying of these pitchers has been an utter failure.
The casualties keep mounting. Brian Wilson: done and headed for his second Tommy John surgery. Joakim Soria: done after his second Tommy John surgery. Ryan Madson: done after his first Tommy John surgery. The list of closers on the disabled list also includes Andrew Bailey, Kyle Farnsworth and Drew Storen.
No one wants to admit it, but the modern bullpen is a failure and the modern conventional wisdom of training pitchers is a failure. The modern specialized bullpen does no better job protecting leads than the pitching usage that preceded it. And though closers, like pitchers of all types, work less often, they break down more often. What industry would accept these failure rates -- the way baseball does?
The role is devolving, not evolving. The past two seasons mark the first time since the save statistic became official in 1969 that nobody saved 25 games with 81 innings in back-to-back full seasons. Bailey, with the 2009 Athletics, is the only closer to do so in the past four years.
Managers are motivated by the save statistic, throwing three-out save chances to their closer like bones to a dog. The game universally has embraced this idea that a closer can't come in to a tie game on the road -- better to lose the game with a lesser pitcher than run your closer out there without a save in hand.
What makes this groupthink so crazy is that the system isn't working. Closers are breaking down or losing effectiveness faster than you can say Joel Zumaya. (Quick, look around baseball: show me the high velocity, high energy closer with the obligatory, goofy closer-hair starter kit who has a long career. The job has a bit of planned obsolescence to it.)
Every other athlete in the world has gotten better, more efficient and in better shape over the years yet we have one "protected" group who has gone backwards in that regard. They get hurt more, produce less and what has changed? How they are "handled". It is a disgrace how the agents and money have ruined a position and created this myth that not throwing somehow helps an arm.
Maybe as they keep dropping like flies baseball will wake up and smell the coffee, but I am not holding my breath.
05-02-2012 11:04 AM #2
I'm not really arguing about modern bullpens vs old school (I guess that's a way of labeling it), but I don't think we can simply point to more injuries/surgeries etc as a reason that they aren't working. How do we know that there weren't just as many arm problems that went undetected back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s? Maybe since we have better medical knowledge and doctors, we are able to diagnose more arm issues and prescribe surgery, instead of pitchers just "walking it off", "rubbing some dirt on it" and going out and throwing until their arms fall off.
05-02-2012 11:29 AM #3Plus Member Since 10/08 Major League Starter
- Join Date
- Dec 2004
- Millersville, MD