MLB teams are using starting pitchers in new ways. Eventually, guys like New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom will have lesser roles.
This claim, while bold, has one word in it that makes it true. The word is “starting.”
Baseball has gone away from the good old days of starting pitchers dominating. They aren’t nearly as important as they were even a few years ago. Specialists out of the bullpen are gaining power. As a result, starting pitchers are fading out.
We still do see plenty of guys like deGrom all over baseball. Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Luis Severino, and others are still throwing fire and doing it with regularity. They’re just not doing it in as many innings.
Yep, baseball is changing. The days of complete games are nearly over. It’s a good thing Johan Santana pitched a no-hitter when he did. Otherwise, the Mets may never get one.
For as wonderful as deGrom is, he has only two complete games in 126 MLB starts. He’s not alone. All across the MLB landscape, elite pitchers are exiting earlier than ever before.
This certainly makes things difficult for Hall of Fame voters who will see starting pitchers win fewer games yet have other favorable numbers. It has other effects as well.
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We’re seeing one of them this season with the Tampa Bay Rays. In case you missed it, they’ve tried something called an “opener pitcher.” Instead of putting someone on the mound in the first inning with the expectation he goes five or six frames, they’re using a guy for an inning or two. As ridiculous as your grandfather may think this sounds, it’s working.
Mickey Callaway hasn’t had the same chance. In Jerry Blevins‘ start, he recently made, the Mets were desperate for anyone. Bullpen games are nothing new, but they are becoming far more common. Ya gotta believe teams will continue to experiment in new ways.
Guys like deGrom won’t feel the aftershock of this. They will remain as starting pitchers expected to last as long as possible. A 100-pitch evening is what the managers want out of them.
It’s the David Peterson and Justin Dunn level players in the minor leagues we have to think about. By the time they reach the major leagues, a starting pitcher may take the mound once every three days and last only three innings.
For better or worse, the starting pitcher is disappearing. Thank goodness we get to experience deGrom.
Someday in our lifetime, guys like him will become extinct.