There are some baseball analysts that feel the usage of bullpen pitchers could look a little different during the 2017 regular season. They feel we will see more of what we saw in how select bullpen pitchers were used during the postseason last year.
While that seems unlikely to me, we certainly saw some of the top closers and others used in more innings and, in some cases, much earlier in games than we are used to seeing them.
Andrew Miller of the Cleveland Indians and Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers both were heavily used in the postseason.
Miller pitched two innings or more in six of nine playoffs games and went 1 2/3 in another. In the regular season, he went two innings or more in four of 70 games for the Yankees and Indians. He was mostly a one-inning guy, throwing 29 innings in 26 games for Cleveland and 45 1/3 in 44 games for New York.
Miller threw 17 postseason innings over those nine games and was brilliant, going 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA with four walks to 29 strikeouts.
In the postseason, Jansen went 1 2/3 innings or more in four of seven games. In the regular season, he did that just once in 71 games.
In this a bullpen usage revolution?
“I mean no, not the way they were used then,” Britton said. “It’s not practical for a 162-game season, unless you want guys hurt in the first month of the season. There is something to having good depth in your bullpen and a lot of those teams didn’t have the depth that we have. You don’t have to rely on guys like that.
“You saw the workload that Brad (Brach) had when Darren (O’Day) was out last year and you see that took a toll on him towards the end of the season. So I don’t think we will see usage like the playoffs other than in the playoffs any time soon.”
In the postseason, there are more days off contributing to pitchers throwing more innings. In the Division Series for instance, there are two travel/off-days built in if a series went the full five games.
Managers, including the Orioles’ Buck Showalter, would seem to want a pitcher like Britton available for more games rather than longer outings in a single game once the new season begins. In a weekend series, if Britton went say, 1 2/3 or two innings on a Friday night, he might be unavailable for both Saturday and Sunday. If he went an inning, he could pitch twice, maybe even in all three games, in that same series. Stretching Britton out to win one game could backfire if he’s not around to close out the others.
Carter Japan-bound?: It has not been a great winter for sluggers that don’t play solid defense. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo did not get the contract some projected for him and now comes a report that Chris Carter may play in Japan next season. Last year, Carter hit 41 homers to tie for the National League lead, but he was non-tendered by Milwaukee and his market is not brewing at all at the moment, although Tampa Bay has shown some interest.
While Trumbo got three years and $37.5 million from the Orioles, Carter is getting barely a nibble, it appears.
Carter, like Trumbo, is a right-handed power hitter with a resume of both a lot of strikeouts and homers. He gains a few more on-base percentage points than Trumbo, but less in batting average. Over the last three years, while Trumbo has hit .253/.309/.477 with 83 homers and an OPS of .786, Carter has hit .218/.313/.477 with 102 homers and an OPS of .790.
The Orioles were once considered a possible destination for Carter, who made $2.5 million with the Brewers last season. That talk ended with the new deal for Trumbo.