Taking the specialty relief pitcher to extremes

One of the aspects of baseball that must bore casual and haphazard fans is the game’s increasing reliance on short term relief pitching. Such maneuvers even test the patience of diehard fans like me.

It happened again tonight as I watched the late innings of the Giants-Pirates game. In the top of the eighth, the Giants put runners on the corners with nobody out. The Pirates replaced Evan Meek with lefty Joe Beimel to face Aubrey Huff, a left-handed hitter. Beimel retired Hough, then was sent off to make way for righty  Jose Veras, who would give up a sacrifice fly to Buster Posey and then got Pablo Sandoval.

In one half inning, the Pirates went through three pitchers. That’s hardly uncommon in close games, but it still bugs me, maybe more so while watching on TV because it means another commercial or two.

Way back in the late 60s when lefty Sam McDowell was the ace of the Cleveland staff, the Indians would occasionally pull him off the mound and park him at second base while a righty came in to face a right-handed batter. After the righty got his man (hey, it actually happened occasionally for the hapless Tribe of those days), Sudden Sam would come back to the mound to face another lefty.

That was crafty managing, and it was a kick to see a southpaw stationed in the middle infield.

Just once this season, I’d like to see a manager make that kind of move, rather than sticking to the stats and continuing the routine procession of righty, lefty, righty.

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2 responses to “Taking the specialty relief pitcher to extremes

  1. I remember one time the Mets of ’80s did something similar. I believe it was an extra-inning game, though, and they may have been running out of players, but they alternated Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell between pitcher and right field. I can’t really remember how successful it was, but it was one of those fun moments.

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