Assessing IMO pitching is absolutely essential. Therefore, pitch profiling is essential in how to use your pitchers that you have on hand. My goal here is to give my very simplified version of profiling.
1st what is the difference between an SP and a closer or installed man? And who should I put where? First, an SP’s arm strength is able to take at least 5 innings from him where an RP cannot, a closer/configuration man normally throws 1 inning. 2nd SP needs to pace itself through the 5+ innings where a closer one is a one inning sprint, 3rd the mentality is different – the SP mentality is to win the game and usually needs more time to prepare to the game while a preparer or closer the mentality is not about winning the game, it is about retaining or salvaging a victory. Although the definition is very simple, the transformation of the mood from SP to 1 round RP is very difficult. Almost all pitchers start out as SPs, but very few will go on to become a perennial MLB SP. The twins had many promising SPs in the MiLB who couldn’t make it as a starter and also couldn’t make that transition to RP.
Duran was a very promising SP prospect, but his arm wasn’t able to sustain that durability on 5, so he was placed in the BP as a setup man. There is always some doubt as to whether an SP can make this transition or not. Duran exceeded all expectations by becoming a very reliable high leverage elite PR as a rookie. Duran has become a bright and shining star of the Twins, earning ROY’s consideration.
Long relief which is considered part of the BP, but IMO is the extension of the rotation. Why? While the long relief usually doesn’t pitch 5 innings, it usually pitches 3+ innings, needs more time to prepare, and shares the same mentality as the SP, to win the game. Who should benefit from a long succession? My list is; promising newbie SPs, SPs coming back from injury, any SPs that aren’t in the top 5, or any unproven SPs that can be used to mop up.
The old traditional pitcher game plan was SP to end the game or at least go 7-8 innings and finish with one of the two RPs you had on hand. The game evolved until the SPs never finished their games due to the demand for a higher bike, spin rate, etc. which puts a lot of strain on the arm and a plethora short RP is needed to complete a game. To win a game, you need a plethora of quality short RP constantly at your fingertips. Long relief is ignored.
My assessment on having a successful season pitching game plan, I believe we have 3 options. #1 have 5 aces and have some good short RP. This option doesn’t work because we don’t have a single ace. #2 have 5 good SP which can give you 5 quality innings with at least 4 short quality RP available in each game. This game plan doesn’t work as we don’t have the constant supply of quality short RPs so we lean on a few and burn them and later rotate. #3 have a long relief as an extension of the spin, for example if you have 4 aces and 1 which is not, you can complete the 1 with 1 long RP + some quality short reliefs. In our case, 3 to 5 long RPs depending on the number of quality short RPs we have.
This season is lost, but next season we will have to look into it. I would love to have 5 aces on the spin or have a plethora of quality short RPs on hand but unfortunately we don’t have them so option #3 is our only option.
My next segment I would like to discuss is my SP profiling.