Sarris: On the return of the bullpen fireman

From SABR member Eno Sarris at The Athletic on June 21, 2018:

In​ 1974, Mike​ Marshall went 15-12 with a 2.42​ ERA​ in 208 1/3​ innings. With​ 21 saves. Without​ starting​ a​​ single game. He got into 106 games! Last year, Marc Rzepczynski got into 64 games and got 94 outs (to Marshall’s 625), and nobody blinked an eye. The trend has been clear: fewer outs per pitcher, and more specialization.

That’s been a trend for 30 years. There might be a new trend just starting right now.

Right now, 34-year-old Jesse Chavez is on pace to pitch in 48 games for the Rangers… and rack up 100 innings. He won’t have 15 wins and 21 saves like Marshall once did, but he’s one of the poster men of today’s version of the bullpen fireman: Chavez comes in when the team needs innings, he’s not just a mop-up guy.

A higher profile version of Chavez, maybe one that fits the Marshall mold better, is Milwaukee’s Josh Hader. The lefty power pitcher is doing his best Andrew Miller impersonation by racking up six saves and two wins in 38 2/3 innings in 24 games for the Brewers. He’s had 12 two-inning outings and just one that didn’t last a full inning. Only five NL teams get fewer outs from their starters than Milwaukee does, and Hader is the glue that keeps the bullpen together.

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Originally published: June 21, 2018. Last Updated: June 21, 2018.