There was a lot of talk about bullpens at the MLB trade deadline this year, mostly because it seems like every contending team has a giant hole in that area. Much credit was given in the NL to the Braves and Nationals for “shoring up” their bullpen on July 31, and blame cast on the Dodgers front office for not doing the same.
According to Ron Darling during Sunday’s Braves/Dodgers game, going into that game, it was the Braves and Nationals who had the worst bullpen E.R.A during the month of August.
Which got me thinking. I’m not sure anyone knows anything about relief pitchers anymore.
Also learned from Mr. Darling, so far in 2019, the leauge-wide bullpen E.R.A is the highest it’s been since the steroid era.
Read that again. Bullpens are terrible. Pretty much all of them.
So the question you have to ask yourself is this. If bullpens are now completely unreliable, and no one is really sure how to make the different pieces fit and work on any sort of consistent basis, why would you give up top prospects to bring in more relief pitchers? Why not just grab the best 12-13 pitchers you have currently and see if you can figure it out? Is there any proof that trading for relief pitchers, or making big free agent signings of relief pitchers, is any more effective? Because right now, “effective”, and “relief pitcher” don’t seem to go together.
There simply aren’t many relief pitchers shutting down opponents consistently year after year, and it’s a headache for managers, but it’s a headache for all of them.