Beware the Middle Relievers

Sean KennedyCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2008

Ron Mahay, Geoff Geary, Huston Street, and other middle relievers are being discussed as possible trade bait. We should all be concerned.

Middle relievers are the worst bunch. They're not good enough to start and not good enough to close. They seem to be up and down each year and change teams often. Good with one team, bad with the next. Good one year, bad the next.

Yet there is a premium on their services (as much as they rarely deserve it) to bridge the gap between the starters and the closer.

Modern starters are six-inning pitchers. It's sad. The game has changed so much. Roy Halladay leads the Majors with seven complete games this year, and five others are tied at three.

Contemporary starters have it easy compared to their predecessors. And contemporary closers have a chance to ring up the saves in a way that their predecessors never had.

No one expects a starter to be perfect every inning—even the ace. If he gives up a couple of runs in an inning, it's probably manageable and not devastating. We tend to look at the big picture; their performance over six or seven innings, not just one.

That's the tough part about being a middle reliever. You only get one inning—at best. Every pitch and every out is huge, and every run is magnified way beyond that of the starers. It's a thankless job.

That said, most of them are still pathetic. Let's hope the Red Sox don't do anything regrettable. Remember Larry Andersen? Remember Eric Gag-me?

Need I say more?

Copyright © 2008 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.

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