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MLB: Roles for Relief Pitchers, Save Statistic Makes Baseball Less Enjoyable

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees pitches in the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on May 1, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 5-2. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Shaun PayneContributor IIAugust 18, 2016

This idea that relievers have to be tied to very specific roles is the most ridiculous aspect of baseball right now. Most major league relief pitchers should be able to, and probably can, come in in any situation, in any inning and get a few outs. This idea that a manager has to name a “closer” and a “set-up” man makes baseball less enjoyable and, overall, less competitive than it would be otherwise.

Now for some smug sarcasm:

Yes, just what we all want to see: If Rasmus, Pujols, Holliday and Berkman are due up in the seventh or eighth inning of a tied game, or with the Cardinals down by a run, we all want to see the opposing team’s second or third best reliever come into the game. We don’t want to see a team’s best reliever facing the Cardinals’ best hitters. That would just make the game way less interesting and less competitive.

We would rather see the best pitcher come in an inning or two later when the team has possibly blown the game. Or we would rather see the best pitcher saved for getting three outs in the ninth, when his team already has a lead and possibly when a weaker part of the lineup is due up.

We just don’t want to see the best reliever face the best hitters with the game on the line. We’d rather see a guy rack up a statistic than see the best against the best.

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