Of the top eight relievers by innings pitched in the majors this season, six of them are part of a pair of relievers on the same team.
Paving the way so far is Josh Rupe of the Rangers with 84.2 innings in just 43 games while teammate Jamey Wright checks in at seventh with 79.2 innings spread over a more conventional 70 games. Among all the pitchers mentioned herein, Rupe is alone in that his entering leverage index is a meager 0.56 and also showing a mediocre 47-41 strikeout to walk rate
At fourth and eight in the majors lies a pair of Phillies relievers. Chad Durbin‘s 81.2 innings in 64 appearances and Ryan Madson‘s 75 innings over 69 games. When your rotation is so bad that it continues to give Kyle Kendrick starts, you are going to have a lot of innings for your bullpen to soak up.
Finally, sitting back to back at fifth and sixth are a pair from the nation’s capital in Joel Hanrahan (81.1 innings in 66 games) and Saul Rivera (80.2 innings over 72 games). Saul Rivera has been quite the horse for the Nationals as he logged 93 innings last season as well and 88.2 innings split between the majors and Triple-A in 2006. Hanrahan was previously in the rotation so his high inning count for a reliever is a moderate one for a pitcher trained as a starter though it’s noteworthy that he hasn’t been used more in long relief stretches.
What these six do have in common beside a laborious workload is that each pitch for teams with sub par (and that’s a British-style understatement there) rotations. But what is interesting is that this trend was not present last season as each of the top five relievers in usage during 2007 were from different teams and the top team relievers in 2006 were all from differing teams. It’s another curious aspect to the 2008 season.
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