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The Loop

Brewers starter throws three pitches, gets pulled. Has 'Bullpenning' jumped the shark?

September 25, 2018

MLB managers calling on specialist pitchers to get one out is not an uncommon occurrence. Almost always it's a left-hander that's sent in to neutralize the hitting team's big lefty bat. This is exactly what Milwuakee Brewers manager Craig Counsell did on Monday night when he called upon southpaw relief pitcher Dan Jennings to go up against Matt Carpenter, the St. Louis Cardinals' best hitter, who bats lefty.

The key difference that made this situation unique? Counsell sent out Jennings as his starting pitcher, and Jennings threw three total pitches to get leadoff man Carpenter out before getting pulled. Solid night's work!

Has the 'bullpenning' trend jumped the shark? Now we're just starting guys to pitch to ONE batter?! Nerds have officially ruined baseball.

Ok, sarcastic rant over. Obviously, bullpenning has not only not jumped the shark, but the trend has taken over the league. On Monday, my beloved New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays at their own stupid game, trotting out eight different pitchers, only one of which pitched more than an inning. The result? One run on two hits and a 4-1 win:

As a self-proclaimed old school baseball fan, this was certainly a weird sight, but the results don't lie, and now I feel like the Yankees would be stupid to not do this for next Wednesday's wild card game. And if whoever starts gets in trouble early, just like Luis Severino in last year's wild card game, you can count on this happening. 'Bullpenning' worked for the Brewers on Monday as well, as Counsell sent out nine different pitchers to win a crucial game over the Cardinals, 6-4. These are two playoff-bound teams that are giving it a try in must-win games. Is this where the game is going?

It's not something teams can do all 162 games, but it's certainly a viable option instead of a spot starter or pitching a guy on short rest, especially for teams with deep bullpens. The days of Matt Harvey captivating an entire stadium with nine K's in eight innings or Justin Verlander literally beating a team by himself aren't over, at least I hope, but they could become much more rare if the Brian Kennys of the world have their way.