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What Is Different About The Game Today?

Sandy Koufax - Image Credit: ESPN

LOS ANGELES, CA — Baseball has not changed as much as you would think. There are rule changes and colorful uniforms to accompany all the state-of-the-art bells and whistles at the new stadiums around the league. The game is mostly the same except for one big thing, pitching.

Today we see starters going four to six innings, followed by a parade of relievers who will pitch one inning each to complete a game. Sometimes they are excellent, and other times they could be better. It only takes one out of the possible three to five out of the bullpen to mess things up.

Today the bullpen is the most crucial part of the defense of any team. If I can play on a quote from the movie Forrest Gump, “Bullpens are like a box of chocolates; you don’t know what you’re gonna get!”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone calls to the bullpen – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

We see starters removed when teams are ahead for various reasons. Pitch count over 87, through the line-up three times, and my favorite, running out of gas! That is because they run less today between starts. Player development has been taken over by college graduate numbers guys who think it is too old school to have pitchers build stamina by running. That’s a big mistake. Look at all the pitchers who have broken down in the past ten years. The restrictions on total pitches, how they condition pitchers between starts, and how the bullpens are used today are not working.

Max Scherzer – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Watching a pitcher complete nine innings today is the equivalent of watching a no-hitter. By the way, seeing a combined no-hitter was always out of the ordinary but not anymore. Pitching a complete game is rare and has become a thing of the past. Here’s something to think about. In 12 Major League seasons, Sandy Koufax had a career record of 165-87, of which 137 were complete games, including 40 shutouts. Mighty Max Scherzer, who is in his eighteenth season, is 209-106 with twelve (12) complete games and five (5) shutouts.

Who knows? The next thing could be to have two legitimate starters and the rest bullpen pitchers. The number of good arms that will be damaged and careers cut short by overuse out of the bullpen will only increase. The game is relatively the same, but for one significant difference, pitching.

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