The Ole Ball Game

Who started short relievers and when?

Cy Young

Cy Young

Cy Young Sandy Koufax

V. Moore asked: I want to know when pitching changed that pitchers didn't pitch complete games.


Rick answered: Thank you for your question.

The decrease in complete games was gradual, without a doubt the product of numerous factors.

Factors such as increased medical research, MLB expansion with the subsequent increased number of games played, thus innings pitched, increased financial investments and the reluctance to risk injury to such a highly paid investment and many others have all made their contribution.

Below are two well written articles on the subject which you may find of interest.

The first located at: http://mikespickz.com/sports/2010/02/6-is-the-new-9-where-have-complete-games-gone-in-professional-baseball/

The second: www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/bb/6999225.html

As with almost everything in our society today, it has evolved to become the age of specialization.

Professional team sports are all built around the specialty theme. At it's onset, football players played both sides of the ball, every play of the game. Now it is an epic moment when a team takes a defensive player and inserts them into the offense for a play or two because they are faster than anyone else on the field.

One of the theories and somewhat of a reality in baseball, is that pitchers lose their effectiveness the second and third times through the lineup. It has become so specialized that some relievers may be used only to pitch to left handed hitters, as an example.

You can often watch a game come to a grinding halt as a team changes pitchers every batter, for 2 or 3 batters in a row.

The gradual development and modification to todays closer started from a pitcher who would throw 2-3 innings each outing. Today, if they enter in the 8th inning, it is big news that they are going to be asked to throw 2 innings. Everyone wonders if they can do it.

Starting rotations have gone from 4 starters to five. That may be more due to the increased number of games played due to expansion.

I listened to a Junior College pitching coach speak at a state clinic one year and he said they viewed every game as a 3 pitcher game. No expectations that a pitcher would go the distance. The plan at the outset was they would not.

It is a hot baseball topic and most, if not all baseball fans have a position on the subject. As with all trends in baseball, the evolution may come back around to it's initial roots. There are some modern day teams and closers who are starting to modify that model. The one which first comes to mind is Brian Wilson and the San Francisco Giants.

I hope you enjoy those articles. It is an interesting subject for sure!

Yours in baseball,

Rick



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