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  1. Luis Avilan is left handed.

    Comment by Adam — September 17, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

  2. But relievers are also not used to starting games and that leads to a different sort of pressure. I’d much rather start a guy like hudson or Hanson or medlen and tell him he’s only going four innings so he doesn’t have to pace himself. Then they are likely to have a similar spike in stuff, aren’t they?

    Comment by Crumpled Stiltskin — September 17, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

  3. I like the idea, but a manager won’t be brave enough to try it. He *might* be brave enough to pull his starter after 4 innings or so, even if he’s doing well.

    Nice little side benefit of your proposal for the NL teams: probably zero plate appearances by your pitcher.

    Comment by sporkless — September 17, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

  4. Yes, very yes. I’ve long wanted to see the “no starter” plan be tried out by some out-of-contention team (much respect to the Rockies for their little experiment this year, even if it didn’t go well), but here is a situation where it actually makes sense.

    If the Brewers make it in, though, they might be wise to keep the bullpen out of the picture.

    Comment by Toasty — September 17, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  5. An added bonus would be the flexibility of pinch hitting for the reliever in early game situations and ensuring the opposing team can’t pitch around the eighth hitter to exploit the pitcher spot.

    Comment by Cus — September 17, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  6. Sounds good in theory, but I doubt any manager has the balls to pull this off.

    Comment by Rey22 — September 17, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

  7. There is no way I’m going to do this. I’ve just recently warmed up to the idea that there are other times to use Kimbrel than just the bottom of the 9th inning of a game that we are winning by 1-3 runs.

    And you forgot about Chad Durbin. I love Durbin. He’s a bulldog. So he doesn’t have the good “stats” like FIP, xFIP, WAR, or SIERA (whatever that is) that the internet nerds tell me about, but let me tell you he knows how to pitch.

    I am considering starting Constanza in RF for Heyward though. Let me tell you, speed never slumps. And speed is what wins games like this one.

    Comment by Fredi Gonzalez — September 17, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

  8. Conversely, if the game went into extra innings your bench would be shortened since you had extra pinch hitters in the early innings. It might lead to pitchers getting ABs in the extra frames.

    Comment by Dave — September 17, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  9. This is a nice idea. Too bad creative managing is heavily discouraged.

    Comment by Dan — September 17, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  10. It is my understanding that the teams can make roster adjustments after the play-in game, as that is a separate round of the playoffs. If true, why not jettison your third through fifth starters in favor of some bench bats or an additional bullpen specialist, assuming you’ve got someone worth having for that 1 day.

    Comment by Dustin — September 17, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

  11. This is a creative idea but they would need to figure out how to get the normal starting pitcher who is going to relieve ready. Starters warm up differently and prepare differently and some (I don’t know the Braves’ starters so this may not apply) start off a little shaky and get better after a couple of innings. You wouldn’t want a starter in a high leverage situation coming into a game and trying to get a feel for his pitches.

    Comment by Average_Casey — September 17, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

  12. I love the idea, and it’s quite well-suited to the Braves’ roster, featuring no aces in the rotation but one oh-my-god-how-does-he-do-that elite reliever, a couple of above-average to good setup types, and several quality matchup specialists. Unfortunately, I think there’s a vanishingly small chance that Gonzalez (or Wren) bucks conventional wisdom and implements this strategy, especially given the way Medlen has been pitching.

    Comment by Anon21 — September 17, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  13. What about Joe Maddon? He’s fairly creative. Might he take a stab at this if his team makes the play-in game?

    Comment by rustydude — September 17, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

  14. This is a great idea and I’d love to see it tried out. Of course, you gloss over a major point in the phrase, “the more innings you can allocate to good relief pitchers.” GOOD relief pitchers. There are a lot of teams that this strategy would be a disaster for.

    Comment by ben — September 17, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  15. Is that right? If so that means 5-6 extra bats/relievers all told. 3 starters you’re not going to use under any circumstances, plus 2-3 of relievers that normally only get mop-up duty. Someone like Durbin, for example, has no business on the play-in roster.

    Comment by NatsFan73 — September 17, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

  16. Skip the Starter: When Stats Attack

    Absurd. It just isn’t true that the best way to continue in the post-season is to maximize the stat-glorified pitchers in any order. Starters are expected to go out there and limit runs. Relievers are expected to go out there and get outs. I know they don’t sound like a big difference, but the mentality is very different and messing with that is bad voodoo. Even if you have to walk your stud out there on short rest, that is better than having some reliever in when the crowd is still sober enough to make their cheers cogent.

    Comment by Irrational Optimist — September 17, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

  17. And who could blame them? If they did this and lost, they’d both be fired.

    Comment by TKDC — September 17, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  18. With the one off-day in the NLDS, this is basically trading (possibly) 2 games of Hudson and one of Medlen for 2 games of Hudson and 1 of Medlen. I’d rather let the starter know he needs to air it out, get 4-5 innings, and then have my stud relievers go out there, including innings 8-9 for Kimbrel.

    Comment by TKDC — September 17, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

  19. Alright I thumbs downed myself. Still uneasy about it, but warming up to the idea. Wait…now getting excited.

    Comment by Irrational Optimist — September 17, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  20. I meant trading for 2 games of Medlen and 1 of Hudson – you get the point. I don’t see that as that great of a gain to try a new strategy for 1 game.

    Comment by TKDC — September 17, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

  21. It’s better to play for the probable (no extra innings) than the improbable (extra innings).

    Comment by Baltar — September 17, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

  22. braves might be good example just because our bullpen is so good, but despite jesus having pitched the last month for us in kris medlen drag, i’m not sure that our starters are distinguished enough in quality for this to matter so much for us. one hudson or medlen start in the NLDS is only so much better than a hanson or maholm start, it seems to me. might be more important for like, the rays and a’s, right? of course, just having kimbrel and o’flaherty pitch as much as possible in the play-in is definitely good strategy, and freddie might even do that.

    Comment by chiefglockandhummer — September 17, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

  23. No.

    Comment by Baltar — September 17, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  24. I agree that Maddon is probably the most creative manager, but this one is probably too dramatic for even him to try. You would need a manager with rock-solid job security, like Earl Weaver or Whitey Herzog had.

    Comment by Dan — September 17, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

  25. Aren’t relievers for the most part starters who couldn’t cut it? I understand that pitchers are more effective over shorter periods so wouldn’t you want your best pitchers out there? Most likely that would include most of the starters and a few relievers (certainly for the Braves it would be Kimbrel and probably the lefties for matchup situations.

    Comment by Schlom — September 17, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

  26. “Bad Voodoo”?

    You’ve (probably inadvertently) put your finger on exactly why no manager in the game has the cajones to try something like this. Superstition and preference for qualitative over quantitative analysis is rampant in baseball.

    We’ll never get this kind of thinking applied to actual games as long as the only managerial candidates are former players.

    Comment by rarumberger — September 17, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  27. On paper, this is creative and a credible approach. It also puts the other team off-balance slightly, as they can’t align their starting lineup to try to do the best they can against the other staff ace or any given handedness.

    The ripple effect from all of this is probably that you get the purest read on which team is better, as both teams will put out their best lineup and best pitcher (starter or reliever) to begin the game, and then march down their rosters in order of quality of pitcher / bench bat, until one team emerges. It would be interesting to see, in that regard.

    However, in real life, this would be an abomination, because all the flippin’ pitching changes would make the one-game playoff games take 5 hours or more each. You think Yankee/Red Sox games are bad? Yikes.

    Comment by Chris from Bothell — September 17, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

  28. If I’m the Braves, I let Medlen start the game and go until he has to bat, then go to the pen. That way he throws 2-3 innings and would be fine to pitch game 2 of the LDS, if they make it. After that you go to Kimbrel for two innings and then match ups the rest of the way. I agree with the earlier commenter that you replace Minor and Sheets with two extra hitters, so that if the game goes to extra innings you have a couple of extra batters to pinch hit with, and still have Hudson/Maholm/Hanson to use if you run out of relievers.

    Comment by Mike — September 17, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

  29. I was thinking something similar when I started reading this post, but the — “From there, you’re dealing with a significantly larger pool of information from which to make decisions about which “starter” you want to use to pitch the last few innings.” — aspect of the plan seems to be why you would want to go almost exclusively with relievers in the beginning. If you just threw your best pitchers for shorter periods, you wouldn’t be able to set yourself up for the NLDS as easily.

    Comment by DJG — September 17, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

  30. “It’s pretty well known at this point that relief pitchers perform better than starting pitchers …” And there’s the problem. It sure looks like it from the rates, doesn’t it? And yet the majority of relievers, even of pretty good relievers, are failed (or developing) starters. Relievers do have all those advantages you cite, which make them “perform better” without actually being as good. It makes much more sense, as several above have suggested, to start a starter and have him go once through the lineup.

    Comment by Mr Punch — September 17, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

  31. Since there is a day between the play in game and the real playoffs, can’t you take this a step further and just let 6-7 or your best pitchers pitch the play-in game regardless of whether they are a starter or reliever?

    For instance, if I’m the Cardinals – I recognize that Wainwright and Lohse are two of my best pitchers this year. I also realize that Garcia is the best lefty on the pitching staff. Can I use Wainwright and Lohse in innings 1-4 and then sub in relievers like Lynn, Garcia, Rosenthal, Salas, Boggs, and Motte to close things out?

    Sure, it might jeopardize the next series a bit, but it would give you the best chance to win that one all important game at least.

    Comment by MSom13 — September 17, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

  32. This plan is exactly what I came to post.

    Comment by BillWallace — September 17, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

  33. The Pittsburgh Pirates (Jim Leyland) did this in Game 6 of the 1990 NLCS. From an ESPN article:

    Ted Power, Pirates, 1990 NLCS. Power was a reliever who hadn’t started all season when Jim Leyland tagged him to start Game 6 against the Reds. The reason? The Reds had a platoon-heavy lineup so Leyland’s plan was to get Lou Piniella to start the left-handed hitters and then bring in Zane Smith. Power gave up one run in 2.1 inning and Smith one run over four, so the plan worked, but the Pirates lost 2-1.

    Power was 35 years old and had pitched in 40 games that year, all in relief. He even had 7 saves.

    Comment by Bobby Mueller — September 17, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  34. Yes, I think giving any consideration at all to the Division series is a mistake. Maximize the one game. I’d start your best starter for one trip through the lineup or until they came up to bat depending on the leverage of their AB. Then start with your best relievers, probably mixing in your 2nd best starter for a 6-9 batter appearance.

    Comment by BillWallace — September 17, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

  35. It’s hard to know. A pitcher who is asked to pitch a little differently might need time to adjust. For example, some starters rely on their fastball more in early innings and might be uncomfortable mixing in a lot of off-speed stuff in the first inning. Etc.

    Comment by philosofool — September 17, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

  36. Many times, potential starters “fail” because they don’t have the endurance to last six or more innings — unless they dial down their per-pitch effort, which makes them ineffective. Guys like Kimbrel and Chapman can thrive as relievers because they can simply cut lose for a few outs and they’re done.

    Comment by RobBob — September 17, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

  37. Does anybody know what the roster rules are for the one-game playoff? I see 3 possibilities:

    1) Treat it like an extension of the regular season, so 40-man rosters.

    2) A separate 25-man roster just for this game, that you can change before the ALDS/NLDS. So in this scenario, you could theoretically remove some of your starting pitchers off the roster for extra bench bats, and then put those SP’s back on the roster for the ALDS/NLDS.

    3) The same 25-man roster that you must also use for the NLDS/ALDS. This way you can’t get sneaky about dropping SP’s off your roster.

    I have no idea what the roster rules are for this game. Is it one of these three? Is it something else?

    Comment by Bridgette Kerkove — September 17, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  38. What Dan says. If you try this and it back fires, you could lose your job. It doesn’t matter that it makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t matter if you lose 1-0 and your pitching strategy actually worked well while the offense choked. Baseball is extremely uncomfortable with suggestions that it has been doing things incorrectly for 100 years and will punish you for suggesting it.

    Comment by philosofool — September 17, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

  39. i like it more for the orioles. the thing for the braves is, medlen has been unbelievable. if his dominance continues, they might want to stick with him.

    Comment by henry — September 17, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  40. I’d be very surprised if it weren’t #2

    Comment by TKDC — September 17, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  41. ha, get it, brave?

    /shows self the door

    Comment by jim — September 17, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  42. I understand the thinking but I am not a fan of this.

    1) Most teams do not have 3/4/5 bullpen guys better than their 1/2 starter.

    2) If you win, your bullpen is seriously degraded for the next series.

    Comment by ttnorm — September 17, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

  43. I don’t like this for the A’s… Doolittle, Cook and Balfour for 2 innings each are not significantly less likely to give up runs than Anderson for 6 iinnings with his 0.91 WHIP. It might make some sense for a team without a true ace (Baltimore).
    Griffin has been as unhittable as Anderson. If the final Wednesday is meaningless, it would make sense for the A’s to skip his turn and then use him in the first game of the ALDS if they get there.

    Comment by baycommuter — September 17, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

  44. Leyland must have grabbed someone else’s hand rolled “cigarette” that day because he is the last person I would expect to try anything out of the ordinary.

    Comment by The Ronin — September 17, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

  45. Tony Larussa won a world series last year by taking his starter out after 3-4 innings and making it a bullpen game. Of course that could have been that the starters(outside of Carpenter) stunk.

    Comment by Harry — September 17, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

  46. So you’re saying the Rays won’t make the playoffs?

    Comment by Bryan — September 17, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  47. I think the idea itself is great, but unveiling it when the stakes are highest isn’t smart. We’ve long heard pitchers lament about not having a defined role and frequently see pitchers who struggle when their role is even slightly adjusted, so the risk of this happening in a winner-take-all game is just too high.

    Comment by Bryan Curley — September 17, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

  48. That’s why he suggests that the Braves rest their pen a lot for the last few games of the season. With 40 man rosters, giving Kimbrel et al. three days off is easy. Then each guy pitches throws about 15-30 pitches in the play in game, and maybe pitches the next day, which is normal.

    Comment by philosofool — September 17, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  49. Also, part of the point is that you have your starters ready for the LDS (no, not the Mormons) to follow….

    Comment by gobears — September 17, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

  50. Are you talking about Hammel(he is LDS)

    Comment by Tomcat — September 17, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

  51. Why wouldn’t the road team in a play in game bat a position player second (in the order) as the pitcher? Said team could then just put in a reliever after the top of the first and proceed with the bullpen game.

    Comment by ToMcN — September 17, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

  52. But isn’t doing this when the stakes are high part of the point?
    The current structure of a mlb pitching staff is to get the team through the season. The season is a marathon but one game is a sprint. A starting pitcher is the endurance runner but in a game game series you don’t need that. You need a combination of sprinters. One game is exactly the situation to do this, either in a one game series or a 7th game.

    Comment by Ron — September 17, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  53. When the Braves end up essentially certain to be in the play-in game, why not try this for one of the last regular season games (maybe 4 games from the end) so that the first time Kimbrel starts a game isn’t in the must-win game. If everyone feels good about the way it works, you use it for the play-in game. If not, you have time to figure out if it’s the tactic or just an off day from the relievers.

    Comment by Brooks — September 17, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  54. And have a left and righty warm up to hide who they would start. Sneaky.

    Comment by Ron — September 17, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

  55. interesting idea… I like it. Why not do it all the time as a road team?

    Comment by saskatunes — September 17, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  56. Well I like the idea, theoretically the second at bat of the game has a much lower effect on the win probability than later at bats. So yes, you’re skipping your pitcher first time through, but it’s bringing him up more often later in the game in a likely more meaningful situation.

    And deciding which hitter to use would be difficult. You don’t want to use your best bench bat, but you also don’t want a guy like Jose Costanza batting in the first inning.. Well maybe Fredi would, but he shouldn’t want that.

    Comment by Marcus Andrews — September 17, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

  57. people can laugh all they want at the “voodoo” stuff, but some pitchers just don’t react well to adjusting their roles. but in this case with the Braves, I think it could work well with having a guy like Medlen whose had extensive experience starting and relieving in the bigs (even just this year).

    Comment by snoop LION — September 17, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  58. Interesting idea, but you could possibly burn three of your starting pitchers and your most effective bullpen guys? Not sure this makes sense, but its worth advancing.

    Comment by Jon — September 17, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

  59. Its better to be in extra innings without any pinch hitters left than to lose without using your pinch hitters.

    Comment by Mitchell — September 17, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

  60. Tried researching this for a bit, it is not easy to find the answer. The only copy of MLB rules (the ones that govern the operation of baseball not playing rules) I found is pre 2012. Those rules basically said that the rosters had to be set before each series. So by that logic I agree with TKDC number 2 seems to be what it would be. It would not be a September roster unlike the tiebreaker games. I have not found a copy of the Major League Rules since the addition of the wild card game.
    While you could add a starter and wear him out and replace for the rest of the postseason it doesn’t sound like a great strategy because he probably not be the best pitcher on the team. The point of using bullpen guys is to have the best matchups to win the game.

    Comment by Ron — September 17, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

  61. I thumbs upped you for thumbs downing yourself.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — September 17, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

  62. I think this first part is wrong if I understand correctly. It’s essentially batting your pitcher 11th rather than 9th. Your pitcher won’t get any extra at bats or be more likely to come up in a crucial situation at the end of the game, and if he did you could just pinch hit. I think you’re second point is relevant though…you want your best hitters batting more, and putting a bench bat in the 2 hole over a good starting hitter is not necessarily a good move.

    Comment by Brendan — September 17, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

  63. 1) I think this would have to be something discussed in advance. If I were the manager thinking about doing this, I would talk to the GM to make sure he’s on board with it as well as the pitching staff. Theoretically, the inning shouldn’t make a difference (as a college pitcher, I’ve never thought any differently about it or struggled to change), but for some reason, some pitchers have trouble adjusting to a different inning, so I would make sure they are okay with it and don’t have a problem with it. If Kimbrel says he can’t start and can only throw the 8th or 9th, I wouldn’t mess with his head.

    2) While some relievers are failed starters, that does not necessarily mean that they are worse in a relieving role than a current starter. Some pitchers are moved to the bullpen because they don’t have the stamina or a third pitch, but they can be extremely successful as a one or two inning reliever. For example, Kimbrel is a better option for one inning than probably any of the Braves starters. In addition, a starting pitcher might have trouble if he goes and airs it out for one inning rather than pacing himself like he is used to and has done and practiced all year. So in that respect, many relievers used in one inning stints is better than a starter.

    Comment by Brendan — September 17, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

  64. Not sure if this point has been brought up, but there will be 25 man rosters in these “playoff” games. Not 40ish.

    Comment by Matt — September 17, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

  65. I cared so little I had to tell you about it! “where is the thumb sideways!”

    Comment by Kick me in the GO NATS — September 17, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

  66. This is my thinking as well (although I don’t necessarily think the idea itself is great).

    They’ve played the entire season in defined roles, and they could wind up with 7-8 more wins than the team they’re playing. They’re at home, and they’re the favorites. So in an effort to slightly increase your odds in the next round, you’re willing to completely change everybody’s schedule and workload for a single game?

    Plenty of relievers say they like consistent work, and don’t feel as sharp if they have too much rest. Yet we’re looking to give them plenty of rest in the final week, only to ask them to pitch more than a full inning in a do-or-die game? And you’re asking your closer to pitch in the 1st inning, and having your starters pitch in later innings with the game on the line?

    If this is a video game, it might make sense. In reality, it’s very risky. Players like defined roles, and there’s a chance a great pitcher wouldn’t be as great if you change his role for a day. The risk isn’t offset by any benefit, in my opinion, especially since there’s no evidence of there even being a benefit.

    Comment by vivalajeter — September 17, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

  67. I don’t think this is feasible. There are too many unknowns involved for you to get enough guys warmed up in the bullpen. Let’s say the Braves do this and start with Kimbrel. He walks the first two batters so you are forced to warm up a potential reliever, maybe two since there is a left-handed batter with a big platoon split coming up. Now if he walks another batter you might pull him which presents another whole set of problems. But maybe he gets out of it with a triple play on the next pitch and then starts mowing down batters on the first or second pitch. You’ve had guys warming up in the bullpen this whole time so you have to sit down those guys to give them rest (as they can’t warm up for 3 innings) and get two different relievers up. And so on.

    This seems like something that would work in Pursue the Pennant but not in real life.

    Comment by schlomsd — September 17, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

  68. So Dave is proposing using the best pitcher in one of the lower leverage spots (1st inning, noone on base)?

    Isn’t Kimbrel the type of pitcher you would leverage with men on base, where a strikeout has even more value?

    If you plan to get 6 outs from him I’d rather have him end an inning where there is a man(men) on base, pitch a (hopefully) clean inning and then get 1 or two outs in the next inning where he can hand off a low leverage situation to a lesser reliever (1 or 2 out, noone on)

    Even if you were to go with an all bullpen approach, it doesn’t seem wise to start your best reliever.

    Comment by Tom — September 17, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

  69. Yeah, but their pen stunk too.

    Comment by Sam — September 17, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

  70. The biggest issue I see is that you’re relying on 6 or 7 different relievers to all “have it” that day. If you throw a starter you could always just give him a short leash or just pull him when his spot in the order rolls around. If that starter has a hot hand you can ride him out.

    What happens if Venters is getting rocked and can’t get out of the third inning. And let’s say he’s penciled in as the third and fourth inning guy. Now you need O’Flaherty to put out Venter’s fire, which becomes an issue because he was supposed to get you through the fifth. No problem…of course until Fredi realizes that Venters was due up in the fourth…

    On paper it looks like a solid plan but it’s predicated on a bunch of guys all pitching well. I myself would probably go with my starter and situational guys to get me through 5 , have Venters and Kimbrel get the last 12 outs and hope for the best.

    Comment by jpg — September 17, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  71. Good point.

    Also, with every pitcher you bring into a game you increase the odds of using a pitcher that doesnt have his best stuff that day. If you use 7 pitchers to get through 9 isnt there a pretty good likelihood that at least one won’t have their command? Its a recipe for a big inning. Going with proven starter is a risk mitigation approach.

    Comment by Jason — September 17, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

  72. Mike Minor is actually pitching quite well these days: 18.1 IP, 1 ER in September. No way do I take him off the roster for this game. But I don’t see how starting Medlen can be considered a mistake given how well he’s pitched this year.

    Comment by Matt — September 17, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

  73. Exactly. Best comment here by far. Took a very interesting idea and made it better.

    Comment by Matt — September 17, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

  74. The ability to use Price probably precludes this.

    Comment by chuckb — September 17, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

  75. Having Kimbrel start or pitch anytime before the 6th won’t work. Closers are known to need the adrenaline hyped, which means he’ll perform as his career only when the game’s on the line: high leverage, 8th or 9th and close game.

    Comment by BillyF — September 17, 2012 @ 11:16 pm

  76. this is exactly what i was thinking.
    also, if you’re the braves, why not just put one of your better starters in for the first time through the lineup? eat a couple innings to save the bullpen and still have them fresh for the first playoff series.

    Comment by ben — September 17, 2012 @ 11:21 pm

  77. The Yankees did it because Nova got hurt. Not cause they chose to. Nova was pitching well enough to go at least five innings that game. Maybe this writer should know about the game rather than just looking at the box score and seeing Nova only went two innings.

    Comment by Ryan — September 18, 2012 @ 12:29 am

  78. Not at the end of the season it didn’t. It had Dotel, Lynn, Motte, Rzepczinsky, et. al. It wasn’t the same pen that pitched prior to the Rasmus trade.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — September 18, 2012 @ 2:59 am

  79. Of course the advantage of starting your best reliever is that he’d face the top of the order

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — September 18, 2012 @ 3:04 am

  80. Interesting idea, definitely enjoying reading all the comments. Unfortunately, we all know how much of a purist’s game baseball is, so I wouldn’t expect to see this strategy used any time soon. It would def be exciting to watch, as long as it wasn’t MY team doing it.

    The best argument against it is relying on so many relief pitchers to all pitch well on the same day. The more pitchers you use the lower those odds get. God forbid one of them doesn’t have their stuff that day, has a rough inning in the 2nd thru 4th, and now you’re down a couple runs. Now one of your better relievers is out of the equation, you’ll most likely need to pinch-hit for the pitcher from here on out, and you’ll be relying on a starter to come in and hold the line.

    We’ve seen this used before in deciding playoff games, a top starter being brought in late in a game, the ‘all hands on deck’ thing. My latest memory of it is Lincecum coming in in game 6 of the 2010 NLCS in Philly. For as dominant as he was that postseason, he was far less effective in that little relief stint.

    The mental/pre-game preparation aspect of this strategy is what’s being glossed over the most. All starters are different. They all have different routines on their day to start. Crazy superstitious stuff like eating the same meals or sacrificing live chickens. After 162 games, and qualifying for this wild-card game, NOW you ask them to throw all that out the window and come in in the 7th inning with possibly runners on base? That’s just flirting with disaster.

    Too risky if ya ask me. I might try this in my MLB The Show playoff games though.

    Comment by Craig Nasty — September 18, 2012 @ 4:25 am

  81. But if the Orioles used Chris Davis as their first pitcher they’d eventually lose his bat in the lineup, amirite?

    Comment by Curious George — September 18, 2012 @ 4:38 am

  82. And a one game playoff series isn’t enough to get the adrenaline flowing?

    Comment by AC — September 18, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  83. Degraded? You sure? They get a day off before the LDS and no reliever will likely throw more than a couple innings.

    Comment by Gomez — September 18, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

  84. FYI for those reading this article now, the answer is #2.

    Comment by Brian Snyder — September 18, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  85. Maybe not. They have corporate ownership, not a single owner or family ownership. If they try it, and don’t win the game, Wren might be able to make the case to the suits that it was a legit strategy by focusing on the numbers. I think it’s more likely that heads would roll in a traditionally-owned tea,.

    Comment by Karyn — September 18, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  86. Great plan. Use all your best relievers and all of your pinch hitters early in the game so that the manager has zero flexibility late in games when the stakes are highest. This is a plan only the opposing team could love!

    …in actuality, baseball managers have been managing these types of games correctly as long as I have been watching baseball. You start your best starter available. You then use him until the first sign of trouble. It is understood that there is a quick hook in must win games. Then you use your bullpen similar to how Cameron wants except, you save the best guy for high leverage situations in the last two innings. …sometimes, baseball is conservative because they’ve already hit on the best strategy.

    Comment by Jason H. — September 18, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

  87. I like this idea, but I have a few reservations about it.

    1) The aforementioned many times in comments “what if one guy is off” dealio. I think the article presents only the best case scenario and doesn’t seem to offer enough of an alternative for what happens if something goes wrong, such as if someone is just off that day or otherwise gets shelled and, say, loads the bases or whatnot. Seems a tad risky.

    2) Even if you rest your relievers, this is using a lot of relievers warming up a fair amount of pitches and going, say, an inning each, then going into the next game after one game of rest: What happens if your #1 starter sucks and needs to go early? You’ll need to do that again and your bullpen will be quite depleted from all the work over three days, so you’ll be on a thin rope.

    3) Wouldn’t you rather save your better relievers for the higher leverage situations to maximize their value?

    And, to me, #4 and most importantly…

    4) Why not do this the first game of the playoff series instead? If it fails, you don’t lose your one-game playoff and instantly go out, you still have games to make it up. Your #1 starter still gets use in the highest leverage games he can(The one-game, winner take all playoff, and he should be ready again around the elimination games), the rest of your starters are able to go as planned. Unless I am missing something, all you miss is the single off day, which I don’t think will matter too much given the strategy, and you still maximize the leverage stats? Am I wrong here or missing something?

    Comment by Ruki Motomiya — September 18, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

  88. The Orioles have actually been doing a variety of this strategy, but based around the fact that they have a ton of guys who have not been good enough to really be starters, but can be pretty effective for 2+ innings.

    So if you look at recent games, you’ll see the Orioles do stuff like “Randy Wolf starts and throws 4 innings, then Tommy Hunter for an inning, then Brian Matusz for two innings, then Jake Arietta for an inning,” and so forth.

    Most teams don’t have three guys who started 16+ games for them this year who are now not in the rotation, though. But even those 6th to 8th starters might be more effective for 2 innings each than a lot of higher in the rotation guys, especially when the O’s don’t have a true ace.

    Comment by John Thacker — September 19, 2012 @ 1:21 am

  89. Our you crazy? You don’t think the Braves have a significantly better chance of winning if Medlen starts rather than Tommy “Junkballer” Hanson? You obviously haven’t watched Hanson labor through every single inning he has pitched over the past three months. Hanson should not have been making starts for the last 6-8 weeks. I would much rather have seen the team pitch Delgado who gives us at least as good a chance of winning right now as Hanson and would be developing with every start. He was just starting to turn the corner it seemed to me when they pulled him out of the rotation.

    Comment by Joe Schmoe — September 19, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  90. This. Hudson gives up most of his runs in the first inning.
    Don;t want him going in as a reliever by any means.

    Comment by Brian — September 20, 2012 @ 11:15 am

  91. Sheets and his two above average pitches are actually well suited to bullpen duty. I would have no problem with sending him in and telling him to air it out.

    Comment by Dan — September 20, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

  92. I don’t buy it. If this was truly the case, you would want to leave relievers in for a couple innings per game so you minimize the number.

    Comment by Greg — September 23, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

  93. This is essentially the premise of my “10-man rotation” idea. The plan can help “starters,” too, by preventing them from facing the lineup more than a couple of times a game.

    Comment by Pip — September 26, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

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