Q. What is Dipoto trying to sell here and who is he trying to sell it to?
A. He's trying to sell the technological imperative to baseball guys in uniform who are accustomed to typewriters.
A brief glance at baseball history, from 1917-2017, confirms that --- > more relief pitchers are better. We're at 4.5 pitchers a game or so now, per team. All along that era, 1917-2017, unie's have grudgingly tolerated the next 0.5 RP per game extra but then -- > sworn on a stack of Eliases that the next RP would foul up the delicate balance of the pitching changes and, obviously, lose 100 games.
Q. What is the performance argument against more RP's?
A. Oh, you know. The ones Jerry Dipoto made in 2016. Like if you can just get that prrrrrecious 6.1 IP from your SP, it sets up your RP matchups soooooooooooo much better. And they pitch better in August, and yada yada.
The technical term for this logic is "incorrect." See 1917 vs 2017.
Q. So if Dipoto, having had his epiphany, can "wolf pack" his 2018 staff, what will that look like?
A. It will look like 13 different pitchers who post ERA+ over 100. If you think about it, there are lots of "NO NAME" defenses in sports history. The first one I remember was the 1972 Dolphins; nobody knew who Vern Den Herder or Tim Foley were, but that didn't stop them from being 140 ERA+ defenders. :- ) That would be a neat game in itself, the Denizens nominating their "no name" choices in sports history. ... Dr. D still remembers 1988, and Larussa backing up Eck with Gene Nelson and Rick Honeycutt and Greg Cadaret (who?) ... one announcer marvelled, "He just keeps putting those guns to your head and he just keeps pulling the trigger." Not that Rick Honeycutt was exactly a .454 Casull, but Larussa figured it out.
Dipoto has a fair shot of assembling a "no name" pitching staff in 2018. He really does, because of factors like
- Erasmo's new cut fastball, which protects his paintball vs LHP
- Mike Leake's novelty factor -- for a year or two -- in the AL
- James Pazos' career arc
- You can name lots of other stuff, depending on how much you like Moore's makeup, Marc-O's DL recovery arc, Vincent's invisible fastball, the $$ to Scrabble and Nicasio, what you think of David Phelps, etc
But the real point is this. The 2018 Mariners will be a team cresting the wave of a saber trend, one looking to exploit a basic understanding of the game. That will be flat-out fun to watch.
Q. Shaping up like what.
A. Even from a bed with rails left and right, Dr. D heard there is now an Official Top 4 SP's, with Leake 3 and Erasmo 4. The next three SP's will cage-match between Miranda, Marc-O and Moore. This is all official doctrine as we stand.
Last September, the 4 RP's with high leverage > 1.0 were Diaz, Vincent, Zip and Pazos. You got Phelps and Nicasio in there now. Next wave Altavilla, Simmons and the "pack." I guess G is left to stew in his own juices about the trash-canning of Nick Neidert?
Q. Anything else?
A. Here is a link from 538 that underlines the velocity in the bullpens. Notice that Dipoto is not particularly following this trend. And here is a typical modern article, quoting the Commish to the effect that --- > something has to be done about the pitching changes.
There is a whale of a lot of griping about the bullpen rules. This fact alone tells any intelligent man that the more of them, the better. If you got to widen the key against Wilt, he's probably pretty good, right? If you got to crack down on the manager ambling out to swap an RP, that's probably pretty good too.
The 2018 M's probly won't have great players, compared to Houston. But they can attempt to deploy superior strategy.