Assouline: The fall of the swingman

From Julien Assouline at Beyond the Box Score on January 18, 2017:

We usually think of starters and relievers as different entities. The starter is the pitcher who starts the game, and the reliever is the pitcher who comes in to relieve the starter. It’s wonderfully simple. But starters don’t always start, and defining what is and isn’t a starter can sometimes be difficult. Pitchers are often used in different roles, even during the same season.

Take Clay Buchholz’s 2016 season as an example. He threw 13913 innings over the past year, but not all of them came as a starter. In fact, only 21 out of his 37 appearances came out of the rotation — meaning that in 2016, Buchholz made 16 appearances out of the pen.

Due to bad performance, and the Red Sox high expectations, on May, 29th, Buchholz made his first appearance as a reliever. It was the first time he had made an appearance out of the pen since 2008, and it was only his third appearance out of the pen in his entire career.

Buchholz, though, isn’t alone in this regard. In fact, as I was able to find out, pitchers whom one might label as starters, pitch innings out of the bullpen more than one might think, but that trend is drastically decreasing.

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Originally published: January 18, 2017. Last Updated: January 18, 2017.