Sunday, July 29, 2007

It's time to fix the bullpen

Right now is such an amazing time, and an easy time for the Yankees to fix their bullpen. The asking price for pitchers like Eric Gagne and Octavio Dotel is enormous. And just about every team is looking for bullpen help. Even the Devil Rays made a trade for bullpen help.

Teams are so desperate they are asking the Yankees about their relievers. I say give them to them. The price is less for the Yankee relievers, and teams can talk themselves into the "Well, Farnsworth just can't handle New York" theory, and take his 100 mph, straighter than an arrow pitches off the Yankees hands. Take Scott Proctor. Take Mike Myers. Take Ron Villone. Take everybody but Mariano Rivera, and I'd like to hold onto Luis Vizcaino for now.

In Scranton's last 5 games, 4 of the starting pitchers have been wonderful. Matt DeSalvo got shelled. The other four starters were Phil Hughes, Jeff Karstens, Ian Kennedy, and Joba Chamberlain. In those 4 games, Scranton relievers got pounded for 12 earned runs, and 18 hits in 13 innings. In comparison, the starters pitched the other 23 innings of those games, giving up no runs and only 10 hits, while striking out 27 batters.

These four guys are ready to be challenged. Phil Hughes will start today for Scranton, and most likely for the Yankees this Saturday. Karstens, Kennedy, and Chamerlain should all be in the Yankee bullpen by Wednesday (the day after the trading deadline). The Yankees' big concern seems to be the transition from starter to reliever, and how this will impact their arms.

Forget about that. Move them up. Lots of people have made an instant transition to the bullpen.

Mariano Rivera did it in 1995, after having started every game he pitched from 1992 through mid-season 1995, he made the switch and was an instant success that year, and finished 3rd for the Cy Young the next season as a setup man.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched 24 games in 2004, all as a starter. Started another 21 in 2005, then switched to the bullpen, and had instant success.

Eric Gagne was always a starter, but did pitch in 9 games in relief in 2001. By 2002 he was saving 52 games with a sub-2.00 ERA.

Joe Nathan was getting crushed as a starter through 2002, where he started 25 games in AAA. In 2003, he pitched in an amazing 78 games, with a sub 3 ERA that would drop below 2 the next year.

The transition from starter to reliever for young pitchers isn't that hard. It's actually pretty easy. One of the problems young starters have in the majors is they don't have a well-developed third pitch, meaning at some point the hitter can guess, and will guess right on your fastball. As a reliever you don't need a third pitch. They don't have enough time to get used to you.

It's just frustrating watching these Yankee relievers, knowing that there are a number of arms in AAA that can outperform them right now. I'm not saying any of them should stay relievers (not that it would be a bad thing for 1 or 2 of them), but I am saying is that, with the exception of Hughes who can help in the rotation right now, the other three should be getting the ball from the starters, and handing it to Mariano Rivera. Hopefully on Wednesday.

1 comment:

Ross said...

Hughes went 6.2 innings of 3-hit shutout ball tonight. That means over the past week those 4 starters have combined to go 29.2 shutout innings, surrentdering just 13 hits.