MLB: Proposed Rule Change for Relief Pitchers

Bob MilesCorrespondent IJune 15, 2008

While watching the Red Sox battle the Reds yesterday a pet peeve that I had previously shelved came roaring back to me.  

As usual Jonathan Papelbon comes in to close out the game for the Red Sox. With a one run lead Papelbon quickly got the first two outs before surrendering a two strike, game tying home run to Edwin Encarnacion sending the game into extra innings. In the top of the tenth inning Kevin Youkilis and Coco Crisp slam back-to-back home runs ultimately earning Jonathan Papelbon the win.


Not to single out Papelbon, but this is just the latest in a series of wins earned by closers throughout the years, that completely baffles me. A closer enters the game and fails to do his job, yet thanks to the offense the closer earns a positive statistic on the back of his baseball card. Even more concerning is he gains leverage in future contract negotiations due to inflated statistics.

On the offensive side of the rules, a hitter does not benefit from reaching base on an error.  Not only does he not benefit but it is actually factored in as if he had made an out adversely affecting his batting average. Why should this be any different for relievers?

Major League Baseball needs to take a hard look at how the relief pitchers are scored. If a starting pitcher must pitch five full innings to earn a win why should a relief pitcher be eligible after failing to do his job and being bailed out by the offense? If the reliever fails to earn the save he should be ineligible to earn a win regardless of the outcome of the game.  At minimum, a two-inning outing should be required to earn a win following a blown save.

In professional sports where statistics rule and the Scott Boras’ of the world are quick to fabricate new ones that will benefit their clients, MLB needs to take a look at rewarding failure to get the job done.