Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, March 31, 2017

Indians ace reliever Andrew Miller will end the tyranny of the save

YOU KNOW WHO invented relief pitching?” Bill James asked in his 1985 Historical Baseball Abstract. “Napoleon. No joke. ... On the day of a battle he would take two or three regiments of crack troops and sequester them a distance from the shooting, eating and sleeping and trying to stay comfortable. ... At a key moment in the battle, with everyone else in the field barely able to stand, he would release into the fray a few hundred fresh and alert troops, riding fresh horses and with every piece of their equipment in good repair. He did this many times and with devastating effect—and if that’s not relief pitching, I don’t know what is.”

Jim Furtado Posted: March 31, 2017 at 07:07 AM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: andrew miller, indians

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 31, 2017 at 09:10 AM (#5426533)
YOU KNOW WHO invented relief pitching?” Bill James asked in his 1985 Historical Baseball Abstract. “Napoleon. No joke. ... On the day of a battle he would take two or three regiments of crack troops and sequester them a distance from the shooting, eating and sleeping and trying to stay comfortable. ... At a key moment in the battle, with everyone else in the field barely able to stand, he would release into the fray a few hundred fresh and alert troops, riding fresh horses and with every piece of their equipment in good repair. He did this many times and with devastating effect—and if that’s not relief pitching, I don’t know what is.”


Bill James should stick to stats, b/c this is utter nonsense. The idea that Napoleon invented the concept of a reserve in battel is so dumb as to beggar belief.

Commanders understood the need for reserves several millennia before Napoleon. The Roman Triarii were a formal division of the legion, specified as the reserve. Alexander's Companions had the same function.
   2. PreservedFish Posted: March 31, 2017 at 09:17 AM (#5426538)
If Cody Allen were injured, what is the likelihood that Andrew Miller gets turned into a regular 1-inning closer? 99%?
   3. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: March 31, 2017 at 09:25 AM (#5426544)
I don't think so. Francona isn't one of the best managers in baseball for nothing and I'd be surprised if he went that route, at least as a default response. I'm sure Miller would get some of those opportunities but I'd bet Shaw or Otero would probably get a look.

As far as the larger point, as much as I'd like to see it I don't really buy it. It's a lot easier to get a guy with a $50 million contract already in his pocket to buy into this. If teams start paying non-closers the big bucks then I think we will see this more. Of course it's worth noting that Miller signed his megadeal when he had one (1) career save to his credit.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: March 31, 2017 at 09:27 AM (#5426548)
"Over my dead body" - B Showalter
   5. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 31, 2017 at 09:41 AM (#5426555)
I don't think an Allen injury would completely turn Miller into a 1-inning guy, but he'd have more and more 1-inning appearances.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: March 31, 2017 at 09:56 AM (#5426567)
Jose, you think they'd completely blow up the closer model and divvy up the saves between Miller/Shaw/Otero/other depending on matchups? That would be great to see, but that is far more radical than what's happening now. My point is that it's very easy to deploy Miller creatively when you already have an elite traditional closer. The tyranny of the save is alive and well in Cleveland.
   7. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:12 AM (#5426578)
I think a lot hinges on the type of injury. If it's a short term thing then yeah I can see Tito going matchup based. What I was thinking more of though is that for a longer term injury Miller would not necessarily be his first choice as closer. If the Tribe are succeeding with Miller as Fireman and Allen as closer I wouldn't be surprised if he just said "I'm keeping Miller in that role and slotting in Otero or Shaw* as the closer."

* - or whoever, I'll leave it to Indian fans who know that bullpen better than I do.

I think even in that alignment Miller would get some traditional saves. Let's say it's Otero as the new closer. Kluber pitches seven innings with a righty heavy 8th and a lefty heavy 9th looming. It wouldn't shock me if Tito went Shaw-Miller and skipped Otero for that game. But for the most part I think he's more likely to leave Miller in the fireman role that works for him and the team.

Just as an example in 2005 when Keith Foulke fell apart he didn't immediately throw Timlin into the closer role (which would be the closest analogue). He used Embree and then Schilling before finally going to Timlin largely because he had to. Papelbon came up late that year and made an impact in a role similar to what Miller is doing now.
   8. McCoy Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:17 AM (#5426583)
Bill James should stick to stats, b/c this is utter nonsense. The idea that Napoleon invented the concept of a reserve in battel is so dumb as to beggar belief.

Commanders understood the need for reserves several millennia before Napoleon. The Roman Triarii were a formal division of the legion, specified as the reserve. Alexander's Companions had the same function.


Well, he helped pioneer the idea of a center position which probably nobody before or after (Bastogne?) was really able to pull off and really your generalship and soldiers have to be so superior to really be able to pull it off that he probably could have beaten the armies even if they had joined forces.
   9. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:26 AM (#5426596)
It's reasonable to think that already-paid pitchers such as Miller can be used in non-ninth inning roles, though the Betances example also shows why not-yet-paid pitchers will be reluctant to trust management to thrust them there. So in that sense, Miller can be a bit of a trend setter.

On the other hand, the Miller usage we saw in the postseason (coming in as early as the fifth, pitching multiple innings) is not going to become the norm, because it's not a very good way of preventing runs/pitcher effectiveness over the long haul of the regular season (and it's risky in the postseason, as we saw in Game 7).
   10. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:27 AM (#5426598)
I think a lot hinges on the type of injury. If it's a short term thing then yeah I can see Tito going matchup based. What I was thinking more of though is that for a longer term injury Miller would not necessarily be his first choice as closer. If the Tribe are succeeding with Miller as Fireman and Allen as closer I wouldn't be surprised if he just said "I'm keeping Miller in that role and slotting in Otero or Shaw* as the closer."

* - or whoever, I'll leave it to Indian fans who know that bullpen better than I do.

I think even in that alignment Miller would get some traditional saves. Let's say it's Otero as the new closer. Kluber pitches seven innings with a righty heavy 8th and a lefty heavy 9th looming. It wouldn't shock me if Tito went Shaw-Miller and skipped Otero for that game. But for the most part I think he's more likely to leave Miller in the fireman role that works for him and the team.

Just as an example in 2005 when Keith Foulke fell apart he didn't immediately throw Timlin into the closer role (which would be the closest analogue). He used Embree and then Schilling before finally going to Timlin largely because he had to. Papelbon came up late that year and made an impact in a role similar to what Miller is doing now.


You obviously know the 2005 Red Sox more than me, but what you're describing sounds to me like a traditional closer model where Francona spent some time searching for who to put in the closer role. Which reinforces Fish's point in #6, the Cleveland Indians are using a "traditional closer model" with Cody Allen in the traditional closer role.

Allen saved 6 of the Indians' 7 postseason wins that were close enough to have save situations. Miller saved Game 3 of the ALCS w/ 1.1 IP following a 1.2 IP hold by Allen - at least in the 2016 postseason, that's the only game where it seems you can really hang your hat on Francona deviating from the "have your closer pitch the 9th inning in save situations" model - and that was a game where the Indians' starter (Bauer) went 0.2 IP, which tends to screw up a lot of things in terms of typical bullpen management. Miller's role is certainly new in the baseball world; but it's not replacing the closer: the Indians have one of those and he's really good at the job.
   11. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:31 AM (#5426608)
You obviously know the 2005 Red Sox more than me, but what you're describing sounds to me like a traditional closer model where Francona spent some time searching for who to put in the closer role. Which reinforces Fish's point in #6, the Cleveland Indians are using a "traditional closer model" with Cody Allen in the traditional closer role.


True but I think that's the change at hand. And actually if you go back to the 2007 Indians they were a good match too with Borowski as their closer and Perez/Betancourt as set up men. I think the reflexive move to have the best reliever be the closer is the change that is happening here. I don't think the 9th inning closer is going away completely.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:40 AM (#5426619)
Miller's role is certainly new in the baseball world


Is this part even true? We're really letting his October usage do most of the argument. He appeared in 26 regular season games for the Indians, and threw 29 innings. That is not exceptional. Maybe there's more to it, the article says that he would come into the 6th inning or whatever if it was warranted, which I don't think Betances does. It sounds like Francona does want to use him as the ideal stathead "fireman" but that he isn't going to quite get there because the unpredictable and inconsistent workload doesn't put Miller in the best position to succeed.

It's not a bad article, although BTF denizens are already familiar with all of the historical stuff on the Save stat and changing reliever usage patterns. And I think the author knows that the headline argues too much - Miller can do this because he's already filthy rich, and he's unusual, and until the rest of the world learns to value and pay firemen, good relievers will still want to be closers.

And my point in #6 still stands - Francona deserves zero credit for killing the save as long as Cody Allen is still a totally traditional closer.
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:43 AM (#5426623)
There's no point to not have your best reliever be the closer, unless it makes it easier for that reliever to get more innings than the inferior closer. Miller got more innings than Allen in August-October, but I'm curious if that will continue.
   14. Nasty Nate Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:52 AM (#5426630)
He appeared in 26 regular season games for the Indians, and threw 29 innings. That is not exceptional.
That "high" an IP per appearance is actually more rare than you might think, if we restrict it to good setup guys (so-called eighth inning guys). Brad Brach did it last year, but not many others.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:54 AM (#5426632)
When the argument is that Miller is single-handedly creating a generational shift in reliever usage, then 1.1 innings per appearance doesn't exactly cut it.

edit > Betances hit 1.3 IP per G in his rookie year, but that declined to 1.1 and then 1.0 in subsequent years. Which is hardly surprising.
   16. KronicFatigue Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:05 AM (#5426643)
There's no point to not have your best reliever be the closer, unless it makes it easier for that reliever to get more innings than the inferior closer. Miller got more innings than Allen in August-October, but I'm curious if that will continue.


Is that true? I would have guessed (but I don't know how to pull stats like you guys do) that the 9th inning of a savable game is the highest leverage situation less than 50% of the time. That, in the majority of games, there's a more important inning (whether it's a closer score or a stronger part of the lineup coming up, etc). Is there a way to check this? Can someone smarter than me check that?

I think things would skew even further towards "fireman" if you allowed for situations where they get 4 outs, or even 3 outs spread over two innings. But that adds a bunch of other variables (getting him warmed up in time, avoiding unneeded warmups, etc.)
   17. Nasty Nate Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:08 AM (#5426646)
Is that true? I would have guessed (but I don't know how to pull stats like you guys do) that the 9th inning of a savable game is the highest leverage situation less than 50% of the time. That, in the majority of games, there's a more important inning (whether it's a closer score or a stronger part of the lineup coming up, etc). Is there a way to check this? Can someone smarter than me check that?
As far as I know, it's been studied and the traditional closer role is higher leverage than the traditional 8th inning role (or any other current reliever role).

But there also is possibly a hypothetical role with even higher leverage, but I'm pretty sure it still involves getting the majority of the saves.
   18. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:09 AM (#5426648)
From TFA:

But if you get him up in the sixth and it goes away for some reason -- and then you get him up in the seventh, and then in the eighth -- you're going to kill somebody. That was one thing I told him: 'When I get you up, I'll get you in the game.' So people would say, 'You took your starter out when he was going good.' I know that, but I kind of made a deal."
...
The formula has backfired at times. In Game 4 of the World Series, Miller pitched two innings with the Indians up big -- the lowest of low leverage, a waste of his bullets. But he had begun warming up before Jason Kipnis hit a three-run homer to extend the lead to six runs, so Francona used him. He didn't pitch the next day, in a much closer game.

"I told our whole bullpen that if we do this enough -- because I think it's right -- it'll backfire a game or two," Francona says. "It has to. I still believe over the course of a lot of games, you're going to be right a lot."

Is it just me, or is this mind-blowingly dumb thinking? I certainly understand the problems of getting a guy warmed up three times without using him. But when the situation changes such that you have a big lead, you just sit your relief ace down and rest him for the next day. Don't get him up again. Problem solved. To use him for two innings just because he warmed up once is beyond idiotic. You don't have to robotically adhere to a "deal" or a strategy when you can easily avoid the very "backfiring" you're trying to prevent.
   19. PreservedFish Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:25 AM (#5426665)
He's trying to have it both ways: to use Miller whenever he wants, but to also give Miller just as predictable a schedule as a regular closer would have (ie giving plenty of notice to warm up and telling him exactly how many outs he expects). But yeah, that World Series tidbit is hella stupid.


edit > and of course Maddon made exactly the same mistake with Chapman, didn't he? Is there something we don't get? These are two of the smartest managers. Is a warmed-up reliever just as fatigued as a reliever that's just thrown 30 pitches? That can't possibly be right, can it?
   20. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:35 AM (#5426671)
He's trying to have it both ways: to use Miller whenever he wants, but to also give Miller just as predictable a schedule as a regular closer would have (ie giving plenty of notice to warm up and telling him exactly how many outs he expects). But yeah, that World Series tidbit is hella stupid.


I love Tito, but he absolutely Brenlied the 2016 World Series when it came to pitcher usage, and he didn't have a Randy Johnson to save him from his mistakes (though he did have Maddon's own brainfart to give him some Game 7 life).

   21. Nasty Nate Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:40 AM (#5426677)
edit > and of course Maddon made exactly the same mistake with Chapman, didn't he? Is there something we don't get? These are two of the smartest managers. Is a warmed-up reliever just as fatigued as a reliever that's just thrown 30 pitches? That can't possibly be right, can it?
Maybe both were irrationally afraid of the games getting close again, and then having to warm up their pitcher again to bring him in?
   22. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:41 AM (#5426683)
Is a warmed-up reliever just as fatigued as a reliever that's just thrown 30 pitches? That can't possibly be right, can it?

No it can't be. Otherwise a RP who just came in the game would perform the same as one who just threw those 30 pitches, and we know performance degrades.

Bullpen pitches have to be much lower stress than game pitches; otherwise pitchers are warming up wrong. No one warms up for any activity at full speed.
   23. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:41 AM (#5426684)
Is that true? I would have guessed (but I don't know how to pull stats like you guys do) that the 9th inning of a savable game is the highest leverage situation less than 50% of the time. That, in the majority of games, there's a more important inning (whether it's a closer score or a stronger part of the lineup coming up, etc). Is there a way to check this? Can someone smarter than me check that?


I think modern closers tend to have higher leverages than 1970s-80s-era firemen. A one-run lead in the 9th is higher-leverage than a one-run lead in the 6th or 7th. The issue w/ the one-run lead in the 6th or 7th is that bringing in a crappy reliever there makes it less likely that you still have that one-run lead to hand to the closer in the 9th. On the other hand, if you've burned your best reliever to preserve the one-run lead in the 6th, then he's not available to protect the one-run lead in the 9th.

Overall, I'm not sure that modern closer usage is all that sub-optimal. The three-run save isn't terribly high-leverage and the robotic use of closers to pitch them is driven by the save rule and somewhat silly. And certainly closers should pitch more in tie games (hi, Buck Showalter!). And ideally, there are times where you'd rather have your best reliever get out the 3-4-5 hitters in the 8th than the 6-7-8 hitters in the 9th, or you'd prefer your lefty closer face the three lefties in the 8th than the three righties in the 9th.

But I think most of those are kind of small beans. I mean, the general view that "the save stat is kind of dumb and shouldn't be used to decide when to use your best reliever" is true; I'm just not sure that things would (or should) change dramatically if you moved away from that.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:42 AM (#5426685)
Maybe both were irrationally afraid of the games getting close again, and then having to warm up their pitcher again to bring him in?

That's stupidity then.
   25. PreservedFish Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:42 AM (#5426686)
Well, Tito only had like one starting pitcher. Let's cut him a little slack.
   26. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:43 AM (#5426687)
and of course Maddon made exactly the same mistake with Chapman, didn't he? Is there something we don't get?

I think this quote in TFA probably answers the question:

"I buy into the sabermetric-type best pitcher in the biggest spot of the game," says Cleveland manager Terry Francona. "To me, it's common sense. I also think having common sense in the seventh or eighth inning is not always easy."

Not something I would ever want my manager to say if I were a GM.
   27. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:43 AM (#5426688)
Maybe both were irrationally afraid of the games getting close again, and then having to warm up their pitcher again to bring him in?


The thing I liked that both Francona and Maddon did is they didn't wait around. As mistakes go I'd much rather "I used my best guy too much and wore him out" to the Showalter "nope, saving my guy" approach.
   28. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:48 AM (#5426698)
As mistakes go I'd much rather "I used my best guy too much and wore him out" to the Showalter "nope, saving my guy" approach.

Well yeah, absolutely. But how about just not making dumb, easily avoidable mistakes in either direction? Obviously there is a fairly large gray area where it wouldn't be a dumb move either way you go, but "lose extra inning game without using best reliever" and "pitch best reliever for two innings in blowout just because he warmed up" are both way outside of the realm of the defensible.
   29. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:49 AM (#5426699)
Do any of you play head to head simulation baseball? You'll be surprised how many times you'll bring in your ace reliever in a "mind-numbingly stupid" situation, because you want to win the damn game. Particularly in the playoffs.
   30. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:50 AM (#5426700)
I'd much rather "I used my best guy too much and wore him out"


Finally, a fan of Grady Little's eighth inning. (-:

It's not an either/or to foolishly fail to use your best pitcher or foolishly override your best pitcher(s). All three were mistakes that shouldn't have been made. The difference between Maddon and Tito is Tito did it from early on in the playoffs.
   31. PreservedFish Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:54 AM (#5426705)
"I buy into the sabermetric-type best pitcher in the biggest spot of the game," says Cleveland manager Terry Francona. "To me, it's common sense. I also think having common sense in the seventh or eighth inning is not always easy."


Not something I would ever want my manager to say if I were a GM.


I dunno, it wouldn't bother me. Tito sounds like a smart guy that's also aware that it's not easy to manage like it's a computer game.
   32. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:56 AM (#5426710)
Tito sounds like a smart guy that's also aware that it's not easy to manage like it's a computer game.

I'd say there's a pretty big gap between "managing like it's a computer game" and expecting your manager to be able to use common sense, no matter what inning it is.
   33. PreservedFish Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:58 AM (#5426714)
I think he probably just phrased it weirdly. Look at the rest of his quotes, it's clear that he has a level head and a good understanding of the pros and cons of Miller-as-fireman.
   34. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:59 AM (#5426717)
Well yeah, absolutely. But how about just not making dumb, easily avoidable mistakes in either direction?


Barry's Lazy Boy asks a good question. I used to play a LOT of MicroLeague then DiamondMind and I can't tell you the number of times I looked at a game and thought "what the #### was I thinking?"

I coach little league now (my seventh year coming up) and I see the same thing. It's amazing how you can get into a situation where when you look back on it, what the #### were we thinking? It's not exactly the same thing but it's really incredible the way things just aren't as obvious as they seem like they should be.

Regarding Tito's comment, I like that he recognizes that he can make mistakes. That attitude seems like the kind of guy who is willing to listen to his bench coach or pitching coach in a key spot.
   35. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:59 AM (#5426719)
I think he probably just phrased it weirdly. Look at the rest of his quotes, it's clear that he has a level head and a good understanding of the pros and cons of Miller-as-fireman.

Well, except for the fact that he apparently thinks he has to use Miller if he warms him up once, no matter what the situation. That tends to undermine the level head and good understanding in practice.
   36. PreservedFish Posted: March 31, 2017 at 12:05 PM (#5426726)
Well, except for the fact that he apparently thinks he has to use Miller if he warms him up once, no matter what the situation. That tends to undermine the level head and good understanding in practice.


Well, yes.

I'm not a major league pitcher, so while I suspect that's extremely stupid, I'll withhold judgment. In the World Series, though, I KNOW it's stupid.
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 31, 2017 at 12:07 PM (#5426727)
while I suspect that's extremely stupid, I'll withhold judgment.

Come on, we're commenters on an internet message board. If that doesn't give us the power to judge things, what does??
   38. Captain Supporter Posted: March 31, 2017 at 12:19 PM (#5426737)
The whole argument about Miller's usage is laughable. Somehow people get all tingly about the notion of using a relief pitcher in the 4th or 5th (or 6th or 7th) inning and then having him pitch two or even three innings. There is not the slightest bit of evidence that the practice is optimal or even useful, and the pattern of his postseason usage is not remotely sustainable over 162 games. You could easily make Miller the closer who occasionally pitches 4-6 outs, and have someone else handle the 7th and/or 8th innings, and I doubt there would be any difference in what actually matters which is the W-L record.

What I am pretty sure of is that if Francona overuses him, he will be on the DL with a forearm or elbow injury, which is what happened to him in 2015.
   39. Stevey Posted: March 31, 2017 at 12:30 PM (#5426742)

If Cody Allen were injured, what is the likelihood that Andrew Miller gets turned into a regular 1-inning closer? 99%?


100%. Miller was regular old closer on the nights that Allen wasn't available last year. Also, Miller rarely came in when the team was down, and not that often when it was tied. He was used as a "closer" for whenever the middle of the lineup was up before the 9th. I'll believe that that the tyranny of the save has been overthrown when managers realize that preserving a tie or even one run deficit is really darn important, not just a lead, and not a second before then.
   40. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 31, 2017 at 12:46 PM (#5426745)
Since 1974/1975 and Mike Marshall, managers have been trying to figure the best way to maximize the value of their best reliever, balancing both the short-term game leverage and the long-term injury impact.

The short story: In 1974, Marshall set records for both appearances and innings pitched in relief. In 1975 he blew out his arm and it took him nearly four years to recover. It's not entirely an exaggeration to say that Marshall's injury pushed managers to take a fresh look at reliever management; although restricting the use of the best reliever is generally credited to Herman Franks with Bruce Sutter a few years later, in reality the pattern was set in motion following Marshall's struggles. And while LaRussa is generally credited with the ninth-inning one-inning role, Eckersley's usage pattern was not especially unusual when compared to fellow ace relievers over the previous few years; it was the natural culmination of the way that the role had been evolving.

The "tyranny of the save" narrative has always been overstated by statistically-oriented commentators. While I don't deny that the current formulation of the rule has pushed the evolution of reliever usage in a particular direction, the ace reliever role predated the save rule by several years (in fact the save rule was driven by a desire to measure the value of ace relievers), and given the burnout rate of ace relievers in the 60s and early 70s I conclude that teams would have been looking for a way to reduce the load and extend the value of those pitchers anyway.

The main driving forces behind reliever usage patterns, in my best judgment, are these:
1. maximize and distribute the value gained from the closer over the entire schedule while keeping him healthy;
2. manage the risk of reliever deployment by defining roles for all of the relievers and using them only in those roles - and also reducing the need for "mid-inning" pitching changes by bringing relievers into the game at the start of an inning.

Until the 1970s, it was rare for relievers to start an inning when the previous pitcher had not been removed for a pinch-hitter. The biggest shift we've seen in reliever usage - and while this encompasses closers it's by no means limited to closers - is the shift to discretionary use of relievers to start innings, even in situations where the game isn't close. The process now is to leave a pitcher in the game (almost no matter how poorly he's doing) until the end of an inning, and to replace him at the start of the next inning. The role of "mopup reliever" has gone away; even the 12th man in the pen generally pitchers no more than an inning or two at a time. It's incredibly easy to find 50-60 low-leverage innings for a pitcher that you don't entirely trust in high-leverage, and to keep your other arms fresher for when you need them.

-- MWE
   41. Walt Davis Posted: March 31, 2017 at 05:01 PM (#5426885)
Francona did use Miller differently in Cleveland. The GR/IP wasn't very different but of the 26 appearances, 8 were for more than one inning, 6 were for 6+ batters, 11 times he pitched across innings. He had 7 appearances under 1 inning with two of those being ones where he simply didn't pitch well. With the yanks in 2016, he had only 3 in 44 appearances >1 IP, just 4 crossed innings and only one outing less than one inning.

#23: Mostly agree but one issue is that the "leverage" measures are averages and therefore assume a set of average batters are coming up. A 1-run lead in the 8th with Fowler, Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrist, ... due up is surely higher leverage than an (expected/hoped for) 9th inning with Soler, Heyward, Russell, Montero due up ... even if the fearsome Chris Coghlan is available to hit.

#40: Mostly agree again but the "tyranny of the save" is evident in the fact that, for the last 20+ years, teams have not used their closer in the 8th inning situation I described above. They also haven't let platoon advantage/disadvantage sway how to order their 8th/9th inning pitchers. They also save their closer for a save opportunity when the game goes extra innings on the road. None of that makes sense unless you've decided "this is the guy who pitches the last three outs of wins with a margin of three or less and, hopefully, that's all he has to do."
   42. Walt Davis Posted: March 31, 2017 at 06:31 PM (#5426959)
Further on 40/41 ... I agree that the save didn't create the ace reliever. And I agree that teams would have been looking for ways to keep their ace reliever healthier regardless of whether the save existed. And I even agree that, in the alternate universe where the save stat had not been invented, we would likely have still seen the two trends of trying to save your best relievers for the highest leverage and more 1-inning relievers.

But the save stat did play a big role in defining for teams what "high leverage" was. It certainly has played a big role in which relievers get big money and hoe much more money they can ... and apparently it still does play a big role even if it's diminishing.

Maybe overlooked in the "tyranny of the save" is that it's related to the "tyranny of the win." Just as a single pitcher gets credited with a team win, so a single reliever gets credited with a team save. Of course when both stats were devised, SPs threw lots of complete games and a save generally was the work of a single reliever. Now, pitcher wins are substantially de-valued even in the mainstream baseball world so it's likely just a matter of time before the save is similarly de-valued.
   43. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 31, 2017 at 07:15 PM (#5426975)
There is not the slightest bit of evidence that the practice is optimal or even useful, and the pattern of his postseason usage is not remotely sustainable over 162 games.


As it turned out, the pattern of his postseason usage was not quite sustainable over 15 games.
   44. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 31, 2017 at 07:50 PM (#5426980)
As a practical matter, are we sure we even want Miller to end the tyranny of the Save? It would leave a power vacuum, and I can see Holds doing some brutal stuff if they emerge as a new dictator.
   45. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: March 31, 2017 at 09:50 PM (#5427004)
In 1974, Marshall set records for both appearances and innings pitched in relief. In 1975 he blew out his arm and it took him nearly four years to recover.

Marshall broke a rib in 1975, then had knee and back surgeries the next two years. His arm, as far as I know, remained pristine.
   46. ReggieThomasLives Posted: April 01, 2017 at 04:44 PM (#5427190)
I just don't get the value of leverage as a stat. Up 1 w/batters on third/second with one out is just as important in the 7th as it is the 9th. The difference is using your best reliever in the 7h means you can also use him in the 8th.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Harveys Wallbangers
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogSavages in the box go bust with slew of strikeouts
(32 - 5:37pm, Oct 21)
Last: Rowland Office Supplies

NewsblogOT - NBA thread (pre-season)
(625 - 5:22pm, Oct 21)
Last: spivey

NewsblogOT- Soccer Thread- October 2019
(198 - 5:18pm, Oct 21)
Last: spivey

NewsblogOT - 2019 NFL thread
(36 - 5:15pm, Oct 21)
Last: my email address is hashtag 57i66135

NewsblogAstros enter World Series against Nationals as heaviest favorites since 2007
(38 - 5:03pm, Oct 21)
Last: Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams)

NewsblogCC Sabathia leaves possible last appearance with injury
(49 - 5:00pm, Oct 21)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

Gonfalon CubsRegrets
(45 - 4:46pm, Oct 21)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-21-2019
(20 - 4:38pm, Oct 21)
Last: RJ in TO

NewsblogNationals to host World Series watch parties at stadium for Games 1 and 2
(5 - 4:23pm, Oct 21)
Last: Jose is an Absurd Time Cube

NewsblogClinching heroics net Altuve ALCS MVP honors
(31 - 3:29pm, Oct 21)
Last: Hank Gillette

NewsblogCC Sabathia has a case for Cooperstown
(34 - 3:21pm, Oct 21)
Last: cookiedabookie

NewsblogWhy did Jeff Bridich give Nolan Arenado an opt-out clause?:The Athletic (paywall):Groke
(23 - 2:29pm, Oct 21)
Last: filihok

NewsblogCould Madison Bumgarner's bad road stats hurt him in MLB free agency?
(2 - 1:46pm, Oct 21)
Last: filihok

NewsblogYankees go decade without a World Series trip for first time in 100 years
(25 - 1:32pm, Oct 21)
Last: Lest we forget

NewsblogEric Cooper, MLB umpire for 21 years, dies at age 52
(9 - 11:56am, Oct 21)
Last: Perry

Page rendered in 0.5492 seconds
46 querie(s) executed