The two-inning reliever

It hasn’t become as rare as, say, seeing a pitcher throw a complete game anymore, but it still seems pretty rare in baseball these days.

That is, seeing a relief pitcher pitch not one, but two innings, in an outing. It doesn’t seem like that would be asking too much, but managers are always thinking ahead and know that a two-inning outing for a top reliever today could mean he can’t be used tomorrow.

In the last week or so, we have seen Buck Showalter use both Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara, two of his best relievers, for two-inning stints.

Showalter believes several bullpen pitchers can be - and are - more than just one-inning guys.

“They can go more than an inning, they are just not asked to because it takes away from their availability every day. I think that is the case a lot,” he said.

“Kevin Gregg could throw two or three innings, but because of what it keeps you from doing down the road, you have to have multiple pieces (in the ‘pen).

“Back when, guys would have three-inning relief outings but you were pretty assured that the starter was going to go six or seven innings the next day. I don’t know if we have that luxury.

“Sometimes you can’t go two innings unless you have a low pitch count in that first one and a good outing that you can continue,” Showalter said.

It would seem that a two-inning outing can be big for a team. For one, that could mean fewer pitchers used and each time you pass that baton, the next pitcher may be having a bad day. Plus, you keep a good pitcher having a solid season, like Koji and Johnson, in the game longer to impact that game more.

After going two innings in just five of his first 28 appearances, Johnson has done it in four of his past seven outings.

Uehara went two frames just one time in his first 29 games, but has now done it in two of his past four outings.

The plus side is keeping a good pitcher in the game longer. Negatives could be you pack more innings onto that pitcher and maybe he is available less later in the year, or maybe the risk of injury rises as his innings total does.

What do you think? Has the two-inning reliever almost become a thing of the past?

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