Wednesday, December 30, 2015


With the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman, the New York Yankees have placed themselves on MLB's bullpens' A-list for the 2016 season.  According to our post CHAPMAN COMPLETES THE ULTIMATE BULLPEN, "This trade is huge, giving the Yankees Chapman, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller as what is arguably the best back end of the bullpen in all of baseball. The best part of the trade is the Yankees did not give up any top-ranked “untouchable” rookies in the process." Shortly after our post hit Twitter, my inbox was filled with fans' opinions on Chapman's addition to the squad.

@snydesn2 said: "I was surprised (about Chapman); Yanks had back end of pen stabilized with Miller and Bet."  

@GreedyStripes said: "Betances is more valuable in 6th or 7th believe it or not." @suzieprof (me), "Like people are saying, starters only last five innings." 

Followed by @snydesn2: "If things stay status quo and you keep all 3, it's a five inning game for sure."
Welcome to winning in baseball in 2016, folks!

According to MLB's Bryan Hoch, "Chapman is set to join left-hander Andrew Miller and right-hander Dellin Betances in the late innings, giving the Yankees the top three strikeout relievers in the Majors and setting up a trio that could significantly shorten games next season." Yankee GM Brian Cashman is boasting a more exciting bullpen than last year.  Is Cashman actually being innovative? Not entirely. We may just being going back to the formula we created back in the late 1990s. Yet, this time, it's just a little bit different. This next generation of pitching is poised to preserve starters because of their high price tags and pitch counts in order to create a monster bullpen to carry teams into the later innings.

"Whether the responsibility is to cover the seventh inning or the ninth, or to induce a ground ball or retire left-handed slugger, today's bullpens are full of relievers who are assigned roles that come into play multiple times throughout every week of the long season," stated Mark Bowman in a piece for back in 2009.  His point is well taken as today's game of specialists in the bullpen continues to evolve.

Although scouting and the acquisition of at least one left-handed bullpen specialist has been common for multiple years, the demands placed upon relievers on a nightly basis have consistently increased.  Gone are the days when Hall of Famers Bruce Sutter and Rich "Goose" Gossage made multi-inning saves.  Now we call on closers to force three or four outs.

Joe Torre stated that "in '96 with the Yankees, that was like not managing at all with [Mariano] Rivera and [John] Wetteland. Years ago, you didn't have a setup man."  You didn't need one when you had guys like Goose waiting in the wings so to speak.  But, not always.  Later in Goose's career you had a different formula evolving into the one we have now.  

According to a NY Times article in 2000, "Few teams can afford to pay top dollars for a closer and two setup men, the way the Yankees have (with the Mike Stanton-Jeff Nelson-Mariano Rivera combo). Sparky Lyle could not coexist with Goose Gossage in the late 1970's, the team of Gossage and Ron Davis broke apart in the early 1980's, and the dynamic Cincinnati Reds trio of Randy Myers, Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton -- the Nasty Boys -- fractured after one incredible season in 1990.

Mel Stottlemyre, the Yankees' pitching coach, said the relievers in the Yankees' bullpen have shaped personal goals into ''the team concept."  'We really have that, probably much more than any team I've been associated with, because they take a lot of pride in their roles','' Stottlemyre said in the same NY Times article.

With multiple options in their bullpens and access to data on match ups, many managers attempt to take advantage of situations that play into their relievers' strengths. And this is what the Yankees hope to do with their next generation of pen dwellers Betances-Chapman-Miller.  Or will it be Chapman-Betances-Miller or will it be.... who knows.  What we do know is that bullpens rule the roost in today's game and we will do whatever works for us as we move into the next generation of pitching in 2016.

--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
BYB Hot Stove Columnist
Twitter: @suzieprof

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