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Old 12-27-2015, 12:38 AM   #1
Deft
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New Approach to Managing Pitching Staff

I have finally returned to OOTP! After 5 years and raising my girls, I finally have some free time and a new computer. What the community has done with facegen since we started experimenting with it back in the day is really impressive. Markus has done a great job with his fantastic franchise.

To the topic at hand, it is important to evaluate when runs are scored. In the MLB the first inning has 15% more runs per innings than the average, followed by the 6th at ~7%, the 5th at 6%, and then the 4th. As expected, the 7th-9th are the lowest scoring innings because of the reliever specialization.The first inning is most likely a factor of lineup selection as the first inning always involves the best hitters in the absence of pitchers hitting. The 4th-6th are an artifact of tiring starting pitchers and hitters becoming familiar with the starting pitcher's arsenal.

These facts can be utilized to revise how pitchers and lineups are used. Since the start of the MLB, starting pitchers have been considered the team's best pitchers, face the most batters, and command the largest salaries. But in the last 30 years, specialization of pitching has demonstrated that limiting innings and favorable matchups can be even more effective pitched innings as evident by the lower than average runs allowed in the 7th-9th innings. Another important fact of baseball is players can not return to the game after being substituted, this regularly forces teams to end games without their best pitcher on the mound and substitute hitters at the plate.

So how can these facts be utilized to best manage a pitching staff? My recommendations, better utilizes the last 5 player on a roster and places the best pitchers on a team in more critical positions for team success than they are used in conventional pitching staffs. To avoid confusion, I will only address the non-DL version of baseball.

1st-3rd innings
Each team has a bullpen reliever that can open it up for about 30-40 pitches and get through 1-3 innings without tiring enough to return to duty in 3-4 days. These pitchers are usually at the back of the bullpen that get mop up duty in blow outs. Rather than allowing the opposing team to choose their favorable L/R matchup in their lineup for the next six innings based on an announced conventional SP, roll out a 1-2 inning reliever as the starting pitcher. Given that most opposing managers will put their best hitters in the top of the order, a manager can start a favorable lefty or righty pitcher given an opponent's best hitters. This should reduce the first inning runs and allow the team to hold their best pitchers fresh for later innings. To prepare for later innings, the conventional SP can go straight to the bullpen and warmup in the first inning.

4th-6th innings
Assuming the opening pitcher gets through the first and potentially more innings, the last hitter on the roster can pinch hit for the opening pitcher to be replaced by the conventional starting pitcher. This would arrange for the starting pitcher with a normal 6 inning quality start to make it to the 7th or 8th inning rather than the 6th. This would stagger the gradual decline of the starting pitcher out to the 6th-8th innings rather than the 4th-6th. A variant to this would be to limit the conventional SP to 4-5 innings thus reducing the necessary roster spots for starters down to 4 instead of 5.

7th-9th innings
The back end of bullpen has been refined in recent years to a very successful formula. This approach should not be changed as the best pinch hitters and setup and closers are not used in earlier innings.

With this as a framework for in game pitch staff management, the team structure can be redesigned.
Current teams carry 11-12 pitchers (5 SP, 1 closer, 2 setup men, 1 lefty specialist, 2-3 long relievers or spot starters). The new roster recommendation:
(3 opening pitchers, 3 conventional SPs, 1 closer, 2 setup men, 1 lefty specialist, 1-2 long relievers or mop up pitchers)

What this does is allow teams to save the money they would normally spend for back end rotation pitchers on above average relievers. Given that RPs make roughly 2/3 as much as SPs, this could free up sufficient money to focus on better talent in the rotation and at the plate.

So how does this apply to OOTP and how do you simulate this concept in OOTP? I have tested this concept with using pitch count limits with using 3 man rotations populated with middle relievers and quick hooks while moving 3 SPs to middle relievers that are used more frequently and slow hooks. These moves allowed enough cash for top shelf setup men and closers. With these changes, I saw significant advantage over opposing teams that spend excessively for SPs while ignoring the value RPs.

Variants:
A couple interesting variant to this concept:
1) Instead of starting a bullpen reliever while on the road, start the last pinch hitter at pitching and hit him in the top two positions. This will totally disguise what pitcher you intend to start, and allow the eventual pitcher at bats be pushed later into game and also in a position to sacrifice bunt for the heart of the lineup. This variant works best for an AL team in the world series as it takes away the home field advantage from the NL team and also can be worked with a traditional starting rotation approach.
2) Another option is to pair left and right handed starters and play them in the same game. This takes advantage of forcing the opposing team to play their lineup hand first and then allows the team to faux start a SP for a limited to force the opposing team to burn their platoon players early.

A couple footnotes:
A study on the evolution of pitching staff usage.
All Innings Are Not Created Equal: How Run-Scoring Varies By Inning - Beyond the Box Score
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Old 12-27-2015, 08:04 AM   #2
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Great ideas. Lou Pinella suggested a similar idea when he was managing the Rays.

The problem with this is money. Agents and the MLBPA would likely resist this idea and the casual fan would be in uproar no matter how right you are.

Personally, I would be behind it 100% if the Rays switched over.


As far as OOTP is concerned I think the the AI would **** it up.
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Old 12-27-2015, 11:11 AM   #3
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My first thought is that, with only three "true" starting pitchers on your staff, if your "opening pitcher" gets lit up you're kind of screwed for the next couple of days. That and general wear and tear with relievers getting a lot more innings means you'd eventually need to push for 13-14 man pitching staffs and probably larger rosters overall.
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Old 12-27-2015, 10:10 PM   #4
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Your proposed use of pitchers is more like cricket than baseball, and I'm sure that it would run into furious resistance from players (and their agents). If teams bulled ahead and adopted it anyway, Opening Pitchers would gradually become a valuable commodity and start commanding the salaries that starters get today. Meanwhile, Long Middle Inning Pitchers - today's starters - would probably remain able to command almost as much as they do now. In the end, after all their objections, the players would wind up richer than ever.
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Old 12-28-2015, 10:18 AM   #5
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kansas city did something different last year and it worked well.

very rarely did they let their starters go through the lineup a 3rd time. i am not a staunch royals fan, so i can only assume they broke that rule on occasion - like shutouts or equivalent great pitching performances. sometimes due to a tired bullpen, too.

by using a starter a bit more than your suggestion, you can avoid most of the money issues that another post brought up, and you can still take advantage of increased use of specialized relievers.

this will likely create a competitive advantage over the course of a 162 game season.
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Old 12-28-2015, 05:02 PM   #6
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jaa36 did an interesting dynasty somewhat along these lines a while back: http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/boar...ll-royals.html
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Old 12-28-2015, 08:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deft View Post

7th-9th innings
The back end of bullpen has been refined in recent years to a very successful formula.
I've abused similar concepts in versions a few years ago. 12 RP Staff

I disagree with you strongly on the modern bullpen though. Your links show that modern teams are getting less value out of their top pitchers. If you really want to maximize this strat, the goal should be to get both more innings and innings in higher leverage situations from your best relievers. Modern roles should be forgotten and multi-inning appearances embraced.

If you look back at my results, 35 wins and 200 innings were common for my top relievers, capping with an insane 40 win season.

I'm not sure if it's still as easy to get dominant RP in the second round and beyond of the draft anymore. A big part of doing this was to demonstrate just how broken this was in the past.
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Old 12-28-2015, 11:24 PM   #8
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kansas city did something different last year and it worked well.

very rarely did they let their starters go through the lineup a 3rd time.
snip

this will likely create a competitive advantage over the course of a 162 game season.
Not sure what you mean by this. None of the 30 teams allowed SP to go through the lineup a third time with any regularity!

There seems to be no correlation between SP usage and success in the regular season. By simple observation KC played better than anyone in the playoffs. Their bullpen was great but they played better in every area than any other team.

If you want the data I can post it. Don't want to go OT but do want to explode myths.
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Old 12-29-2015, 12:16 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by RchW View Post
Not sure what you mean by this. None of the 30 teams allowed SP to go through the lineup a third time with any regularity!

There seems to be no correlation between SP usage and success in the regular season. By simple observation KC played better than anyone in the playoffs. Their bullpen was great but they played better in every area than any other team.

If you want the data I can post it. Don't want to go OT but do want to explode myths.
Here is what he means by that. This is just one article, but there were many written about this over the last few years.

The Royals and Rays are reinventing how teams use starting pitchers and it's going to drive baseball traditionalists crazy
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Old 12-29-2015, 03:23 AM   #10
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Not sure what you mean by this. None of the 30 teams allowed SP to go through the lineup a third time with any regularity!

There seems to be no correlation between SP usage and success in the regular season. By simple observation KC played better than anyone in the playoffs. Their bullpen was great but they played better in every area than any other team.

If you want the data I can post it. Don't want to go OT but do want to explode myths.
By the simplest observation, that being regular season wins, they finished 2nd to the Cardinals. The Cardinals also won the the regular season head-to-head 4-2. The Royals won the World Series because they played well when it counted, and the Cardinals stunk it up against the Cubs. But to say that "they played better in every area than any other team" is a stretch.

edit : And to continue with the topic of the thread, I think that Deft makes some interesting if not controversial observations. But, all that pales in comparison to the effects that a catcher with good framing skills has on the effectiveness of any pitching staff. I'd like to see MLB try using an automated strike zone to remove this exploit and make the game a little more accurate.

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Old 12-29-2015, 11:47 AM   #11
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I've abused similar concepts in versions a few years ago. 12 RP Staff

I disagree with you strongly on the modern bullpen though. Your links show that modern teams are getting less value out of their top pitchers. If you really want to maximize this strat, the goal should be to get both more innings and innings in higher leverage situations from your best relievers. Modern roles should be forgotten and multi-inning appearances embraced.

If you look back at my results, 35 wins and 200 innings were common for my top relievers, capping with an insane 40 win season.

I'm not sure if it's still as easy to get dominant RP in the second round and beyond of the draft anymore. A big part of doing this was to demonstrate just how broken this was in the past.
I used a similar strategy to what you suggested and I think the results are really biased based on the OOTP flawed handling of relief pitchers. I agree that single inning usage of closers and set up men is a silly limit but this area is not the worst application of current MLB pitching staffs.

If there were something I would like added to OOTP, it would be home and away lineups. The most powerful idea of this lists is being able to pinch hit in the 2 hole in the lineup as an away team to start the game. It disguises your true starter, pushes a pitchers plate appearance two more at bats later in the game, and sets up your pitcher to be in the ideal position for sacrifice bunting a good OBP hitter batting in the 9th or 1st lineup position to second base for the meat of the order.
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Old 12-29-2015, 12:17 PM   #12
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Your proposed use of pitchers is more like cricket than baseball, and I'm sure that it would run into furious resistance from players (and their agents). If teams bulled ahead and adopted it anyway, Opening Pitchers would gradually become a valuable commodity and start commanding the salaries that starters get today. Meanwhile, Long Middle Inning Pitchers - today's starters - would probably remain able to command almost as much as they do now. In the end, after all their objections, the players would wind up richer than ever.
The Cricket analogy is quite apt. In fact, in this world (given the roster management challenges), players who could be "all-rounders" and both fill bench lineup roles and eat innings in blowouts would become highly valuable.
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Old 12-29-2015, 01:31 PM   #13
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Not sure what you mean by this. None of the 30 teams allowed SP to go through the lineup a third time with any regularity!

There seems to be no correlation between SP usage and success in the regular season. By simple observation KC played better than anyone in the playoffs. Their bullpen was great but they played better in every area than any other team.

If you want the data I can post it. Don't want to go OT but do want to explode myths.

I never brought up the world series, because its results are totally irrelevant to the concept i was communicating. kc employs a different strategy in how and when they use their bullpen. by using that strategy, kc creates a competitive advantage over other teams, ceterus paribus.

when you look at info on SP as they go through an order multiple times, you see offesensive statistics skyrocket. so yes, most SP are chased during this time, and you can find plenty of data to support that claim. but, being so broad doesn't really prove anything relative to what i said.

the concept being explained is the difference between a more traditional bullpen management and a slightly different way of doing things... the means by which something occurs. how/when/why they are pulled is the key here. that would be the data you need to mine to prove one thing or another.

traditional thought does not actively avoid a pitcher going through a lineup a 3rd or even a 4th time. traditional usage attempts to get as many innings as possible out of the SP, regardless. the decisions to pull a starter are typically due to current performance and perceived fatigue. the last tidbit is the important part and what is different from KC's strategy.

KC made a concerted effort to avoid letting their starters see the opposing team's lineup the 3rd time, and in an active way, as opposed to a reactive way of traditional strategies. there were news items throughout the year that talked about their unusual strategy concerning the use of their pitchers. they were actively making use of what the data told them. i don't follow kc, and i don't speculate about a team i am not familiar with... the source of that info was the KCR, not in my head. i watch my hometown team, i don't bother with others'.

even though you can find examples of KC pitchers going longer, it is very likely at a lower rate than the league average. again this isn't an all-or-nothing, stubborn, dogmatic way of doing things. it's a bit more maleable than that.

e.g. if the pen is tired, you can't employ this strategy. if cueto is going for a no-no he's probably going out there until it blows up, regardless of inning and even to some extent pitch counts.

when possible and not detrimental to the near future of the team, they got their starters out of the game for different reasons than other teams. those different reasons created a competitive advantage via a better strategy for the pitching staff.

what's up with the bold? might as well capitalize it, too. funny stuff.

edit: thanks fuzzy... i looked at the link and i could have avoided all of this typing with one image... LoL yout can't argue it's bad SP getting chased early... becasue those are 2 good pitching staffs.
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Old 12-29-2015, 03:41 PM   #14
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I used a similar strategy to what you suggested and I think the results are really biased based on the OOTP flawed handling of relief pitchers. I agree that single inning usage of closers and set up men is a silly limit but this area is not the worst application of current MLB pitching staffs.
If I recall correctly, I think the AI behaved best when I stopped using the roles entirely, leaving them unassigned.

I could rant on the use of the modern pitching staff all day, but the worst problem has to be getting only 60 innings (many that have very low impact on outcomes) out of premium arms.

Quote:
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If there were something I would like added to OOTP, it would be home and away lineups. The most powerful idea of this lists is being able to pinch hit in the 2 hole in the lineup as an away team to start the game. It disguises your true starter, pushes a pitchers plate appearance two more at bats later in the game, and sets up your pitcher to be in the ideal position for sacrifice bunting a good OBP hitter batting in the 9th or 1st lineup position to second base for the meat of the order.
You're pushing for something that is against the rules. The announced starting pitcher would have to face at least 1 batter.
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Old 12-29-2015, 04:12 PM   #15
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edit: if you want more innings per outing, i bet the settings can oblige. test out the frequency of reliever use and how it affects length of use. i'm pretty sure there is a setting that will result in RP being used more than 1ip at a time more often. something in that area should do what you want.

bullpen roles: how to get the most out of top 4 relievers.

Reliever #1 - cl 9inning or later, if you want more innings, go ahead and do 8+ or later. i think you miss out on more high leverage situations due to fatigue, but i could be very wrong... just based on opinion.

#2 - sup 7+ (one with secondary role of CL or both if equivalent)
#3 - sup 7+

by doing both 7+, the better pitcher will be used more often and not just in the 8th inning.

(again, you could do 6+ or later and they will get more innings)


#4 - MR-use more often with secondary role of SU (on a rare occasion the 2ndary role will be LR for this guy)

(the rest, MR-use less often - unless they are good enough to shar time with your best MR, of course. sometimes i will tier it more (one with MR-normal usage) if there is big drop off from the 5th to the 6th releiver etc. otherwise i only want them used if necessary).

LR i use as secondary roles only. i will use it for the developing reliever that is a MR use less often type or the best one after my MR/SU guy preferably with above average bullpen stamina and a third pitch - 3rd pitch not required.

unless you have a completely dominant 140+ win team, you should see 60-70+ for your closer and can get over 50saves in better years.

your top 4 relievers will get tons of work. they trick is to limit the sucky relievers as much as you can. don't give them the LR role if you want to minimize their innings.

----------------------
quoted:
"If there were something I would like added to OOTP, it would be home and away lineups. The most powerful idea of this lists is being able to pinch hit in the 2 hole in the lineup as an away team to start the game. It disguises your true starter, pushes a pitchers plate appearance two more at bats later in the game, and sets up your pitcher to be in the ideal position for sacrifice bunting a good OBP hitter batting in the 9th or 1st lineup position to second base for the meat of the order. "

i must be missing something.. so the pitcher is in the 2 hole when away to start and pinch hit before they even play? but then your pitcher is in the 2-hole the rest of the game (except innings of PH) and he gets that many more at bats (sure outs).

unless someone's splits are so wretched, i really don't value l/r matchups that highly... the numbers have to back it up. so for a manager like me, hiding a SP is no real advantage. plus all the necessary subs and position switches can stil be made. you can replace a 3b in the 4th slot but they don't have to play 3b. so the moment the SP is revealed, the subs can be made without problems for the most part plus they say an optimal lineup only accoutns for 16-20 or so runs over a 162game season compared to a lesser optimal lineup.

about relievers (not quoted):
also i think the advantage of 1 ip will allow them to enter more games and in theory be available more often for high leverage situations as they arise - which is not predictable in any way, so availability is key.

if a team only has a couple dominant RP, then i'd be all for pitching them more than one inning in that situation. if i have 3-4 quality RP, i'd rather use them all 1ip at a time and have greater flexibility and availability over time.

it's not just about one game i nthe regular season. it's what you can maintain with a heavy workload.

postseason, throw all that out the window. pitch the guy 2innings if they haven't gotten through the lineup once, for sure. a RP #'s won't look as good as they normally do if they see the same batters 2 or 3times.

it shouldn't be about adhering to one theory or the other. context should dictate which should be employed. both have benefits and costs associated with their use.

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Old 12-29-2015, 09:52 PM   #16
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KC made a concerted effort to avoid letting their starters see the opposing team's lineup the 3rd time...

even though you can find examples of KC pitchers going longer, it is very likely at a lower rate than the league average. again this isn't an all-or-nothing, stubborn, dogmatic way of doing things. it's a bit more maleable than that.
Keep in mind KC had so so starters by in large and very good relievers so it would make sense to bring in your better pitchers to throw the final innings. If you have very good starters and meh relievers it would make more sense to keep the starters in and not just automatically pull them after the second time through the lineup. It all depends on how good your staff is and where it is strong and where it is weak.

To the the original post, if the guy who starts the game retires them nine up and nine down and there's no sign the other team is going hit the guy any time soon I'll be darned if I pull him.
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Old 12-30-2015, 06:20 PM   #17
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Keep in mind KC had so so starters by in large and very good relievers so it would make sense to bring in your better pitchers to throw the final innings. If you have very good starters and meh relievers it would make more sense to keep the starters in and not just automatically pull them after the second time through the lineup. It all depends on how good your staff is and where it is strong and where it is weak.

To the the original post, if the guy who starts the game retires them nine up and nine down and there's no sign the other team is going hit the guy any time soon I'll be darned if I pull him.
exactly... you can find examples where KC deviates from that strategy for good reasons, but the image shows how comitted they were to avoiding that lineup the 3rd time through.
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Old 08-02-2019, 03:21 PM   #18
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I thought I would revive this old thread in light of the rise of the Opener.
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