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Building a better bullpen

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 01:04 PM

Sports Illustrated's Tom Veriducci has a terrific piece asking whether the usage of the modern closer has led to more injuries:

http://sportsillustr...sers/index.html

#2 Thrylos

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 02:04 PM

well... look at this:

Fifty percent of all starting pitchers will go on the DL every year, as well as 34 percent of all relievers


first of all this is an amazing stat. Half of the starters will go to the DL. The Twins' hopefully had their fair share already this season. Secondly, if the use of closers led to injuries, you'd think that relievers would be hurt at a higher rate than starters, which is not true. Too many injuries and there is not a good explanation why...
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#3 Shane Wahl

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 02:26 PM

Lifting weights too much? I would like to see a study comparing pitchers at varying degrees of weight training amounts and see how the injury rates compare. That has to be the biggest change between now and 20+ years ago (in all sports, although the ACL tear growth in basketball might be related to the way athletic shoes are not at all natural or good for human bodies to walk/run with).

#4 Paul

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 02:53 PM

Lifting weights too much?


I think it's that plus the understanding and use of effective pitching mechanics pushes the human body to its limits. I did a lot of research prior to shoulder surgery a few years ago, and came to the conclusion that the normal human body can't withstand operating right on the edge for any length of time. Something breaks.

#5 Parker Hageman

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 03:20 PM

What should supplement this piece in Sports Illustrated is this interview with former Twins pitcher Mike Marshall in Deadspin. Marshall, who received a doctorate in exercise physiology, has done some interesting studies in pitching mechanics.

#6 Paul

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 04:00 PM

What should supplement this piece in Sports Illustrated is this interview with former Twins pitcher Mike Marshall in Deadspin. Marshall, who received a doctorate in exercise physiology, has done some interesting studies in pitching mechanics.


Thanks for the reference. Gonna take a while to wrap my mind around this stuff. The pronated release of the curveball???

#7 ossieO

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 10:48 PM

Thinking about how relievers often alternate good and bad years, I've wondered if there is a better way to use relievers. Phrasing it differently, I've wondered if bullpen construction/usage is a future market inefficiency. I liked this quote from the story: "Imagine if every team in the NFL used the same 3-4 defense. That's essentially what is happening in baseball. Everybody runs their bullpen and their pitch count policies the same way." I found the stats in the article interesting, but they didn't suggest what should be changed. Getting away from the defined role of 8th inning/setup man and closer-only-in-save-situations is only part of the issue, in my opinion. I'd like to see a team make fewer pitching changes, and allow more relievers to work 2 or 3 innings at a time - because I believe warming up for only 1 or 2 batters, and making 70+ appearances a year causes too much physical wear and tear. What if a team had 2 of relievers who threw 2-3 innings at a time, twice a week. Averaging 5 innings a week would equal 130 for the season. With 2 relievers on this schedule a team could... ...get through a game using 1 reliever more often, giving the rest of the 'pen an entire night off. ...develop future starters in the majors, since they'd probably use 3 or 4 different pitches rather than 2 like many relievers. ...carry fewer pitchers on the active roster (11?), which benefits the offense/defense with a deeper bench. Going back a few years, I think this type of usage might be ideal for a guy like Rich Harden, who could dominate but was not durable. Scott Baker may have been another possibility. </rant>

#8 Shane Wahl

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:12 AM

Thinking about how relievers often alternate good and bad years, I've wondered if there is a better way to use relievers. Phrasing it differently, I've wondered if bullpen construction/usage is a future market inefficiency. I liked this quote from the story: "Imagine if every team in the NFL used the same 3-4 defense. That's essentially what is happening in baseball. Everybody runs their bullpen and their pitch count policies the same way."

I found the stats in the article interesting, but they didn't suggest what should be changed. Getting away from the defined role of 8th inning/setup man and closer-only-in-save-situations is only part of the issue, in my opinion. I'd like to see a team make fewer pitching changes, and allow more relievers to work 2 or 3 innings at a time - because I believe warming up for only 1 or 2 batters, and making 70+ appearances a year causes too much physical wear and tear.

What if a team had 2 of relievers who threw 2-3 innings at a time, twice a week. Averaging 5 innings a week would equal 130 for the season. With 2 relievers on this schedule a team could...
...get through a game using 1 reliever more often, giving the rest of the 'pen an entire night off.
...develop future starters in the majors, since they'd probably use 3 or 4 different pitches rather than 2 like many relievers.
...carry fewer pitchers on the active roster (11?), which benefits the offense/defense with a deeper bench.

Going back a few years, I think this type of usage might be ideal for a guy like Rich Harden, who could dominate but was not durable. Scott Baker may have been another possibility.

</rant>


Yeah, this seems to be pretty spot on. Something is amiss in general with pitchers (back to the weights . . . lifting doesn't make ligaments and tendons stronger as compared to muscle . . . ) but with regard to relievers, I am consistently bothered by the (in the regular season) overuse of pitchers in terms of the warming up/pitching situation. They simply throw too much doing nothing instead of being valuable in games.