It all began with the Tampa Bay Rays. When career closer Sergio Romo opened a game for the Rays on May 19th it set off a trend that would revolutionize the way managers managed games and worked their bullpen. While not every team has committed to using an opener, the rise of bullpen usage has increased significantly. Gone are the days of pitchers being expected to go 7 innings or on average pitching 200 innings a year. The rise of bullpen usage has really shown up in the playoffs this year, especially with the Milwaukee Brewers who came within one game of the World Series. This strategy was used to excess in game 5 when manager Craig Counsell removed starter Wade Miley after one batter, only to go with the bullpen the rest of the way. This was a highly questionable move on the part of Counsell as he would be taxing his bullpen potentially for the rest of the series. That day the move did not pay off as the Brewers paid as the Brewers dropped game 5 but it did pay off when Miley was then able to start Game 6, which the Brewers won. Come game 7 the lethal Brewers bullpen was not able to contain the Dodgers offense and had to watch as LA advanced to their second straight World Series. People will now be left to debate on whether Counsell managed his team brilliantly, taking a fringe playoff team to Game 7 of the NLCS, or if he overmanaged his team and ultimately lead to their downfall. I believe that what Counsell did was a brilliant piece of managing and unfortunately LA just had too much firepower for the Brewers to overcome. Counsell knew going into the series that his bullpen has been his strength so he figured he might as well go all in and use his strength to his advantage to make up for the Brewers lackluster starting rotation. So while I think there are definitely some cases of overmanaging, I think teams with strong bullpens are well off using their strength to their advantage and help them win.
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives"
- Jackie Robinson