Carleton: Have relievers really gotten better over the years?

From Russell Carleton at on June 2, 2015:

At some point along the way, the pitch count made its way into the conversation. And then it made its way onto the scoreboard. And then it made its way into the rationale for actual pitching changes. And then it made its way onto the television screen. And it made its way into the strategy of the game.


Last year, the Royals made it to the World Series, and a big part of their success was the relief triumvirate of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. All three men threw gas, were lights-out, and allowed Ned Yost to “€œshorten”€ a game to six innings. But taking nothing away from the Royals bullpen, there was a point when people started looking around and realizing that a lot of teams seemed to have these fire-balling, lights-out guys who could throw 96. It used to be that teams were lucky to have one. Now everyone had three or four. It seemed like one reason that scoring was down was that a manager now had the luxury of only needing his starter to go five or six innings, and he didn’€™t have to rely on suspect arms in the bullpen to make a lead stick. Now, it didn’€™t matter as much if the other team tried to spoil a bunch of pitches by fouling them off.

Is that really what happened?

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Originally published: June 2, 2015. Last Updated: June 2, 2015.