The NY Times ran a good article about relief pitchers today that focused, in particular, on what it takes to close games. A couple of year’s ago, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein turned conventional wisdom on its head by fielding a team that hoped to contend without a “true closer.” After a few shaky outings by the bullpen, the Sox yielded to public pressure and installed someone to finish games. I still think that the idea is a valid one, especially in light of how relief pitching has evolved. The era of the specialty closer, i.e. the guy who enters the game in the ninth almost exclusively in save situations, is relatively new. And statistics indicate that most relievers will post similar numbers when closing or not. So why not use your best pitcher in the most crucial situations?
“Researchers who study human behavior know that people tend to focus on evidence that supports ideas they believe, and baseball executives are no exception.” I think that about sums it up.