Bullpens As We Know Them Are Over!
What a great time to be a coach of a baseball team. With all the hype and publicity being pushed toward both Joe Maddon, and Terry Francona it gets me excited to be a baseball coach. No really! I get excited thinking about all the different manipulations and different combinations that I can use a bullpen in. How can I best deploy and manage my team to really undercut any type of advantage that my opponent might have.
The invention and use of bullpens is going to change in the game of baseball now more than ever. As the data, and strategy of the game have evolved we have seen teams over the past several years constructed to represent and take advantage of different wrinkles that will ultimately lead to more wins for their baseball team. Just to name a few:
Moneyball- Athletics, Red Sox (To some point)
Fielding Advantages- Royals & Giants
Watch as now all managers will begin to really use their bullpens that many “Stat Heads” have thought of using them over the past few years. It is almost a landmark moment for using bullpens the way that they have been intended to be used. Call this the breaking of the dam, and moment where it is now OK to bring in your best reliever to save the game in a better spot. Lets call this the “Showalter Francona Effect”.
The two managers and how they handled their bullpens in the 2016 playoffs could not have been any different. To remind you Showalter never took Zach Britton out of the bullpen where Francona has used Miller early and often. Mark my words there are coaches all over the world watching these playoffs thinking this is how it should be done. Managers should be progressive, and you will see fans, and baseball owners start to look for managers that are going to adapt and learn from the lessons from these playoffs.
You have younger coaches, and players who are thinking the exact same thing. My contention would be that if coaches are still going to be using bullpens as they have in the past going forward then you are going to hear a lot more. The bullpen is over as we used to know it. Adapt and move on, or potentially get run over.