Recently however, many owners have put a premium on not just the quality of innings pitched of the pen, but now the quantity of quality innings is equal if not more important. Instead of great setup men and closers, many owners now draft all aspects of the pen early and search for high durability "lights out" relievers.
- In ATB IX 22 relievers accumulated 90 or more innings.
- In ATB X, the number rose to 28
- In ATB XI again the number rose, this time to 36
- In the current season an astounding 50 pitchers are on pace to exceed 90 innings, despite four less teams than then last season.
Here's the key - the average ERA of the Top 10 pitchers with at least 90 innings pitched has improved for four consecutive years:
The Men Behind The Trend
Here are the standout seasons over the past four years.
Items to note:
- Kent Tekulve and Jeff Zimmerman are the only two pitchers to appear twice
- I personally love the ATB XI Zimmerman role the best. 140 innings, 1.88 RCERA, and he was the full time closer for DC as well as the starting setup man vs both Lefties and Righties.
- How about Ellis Kinder's 17 (!) wins in relief in ATB XI?
- Analyzing their usage we have 11 setup roles, 9 long relievers, and 5 closers
This season there are several high quality long duration relievers. All listed below are on pace for at least 90 innings of work.
- Three qualifying relievers have yet to give up a run: Jeff Zimmerman (20.2 IP for LDS) John Wetteland (18 IP for BT), and Pat Jarvis (17.2 IP for SBD)
- The best RCERA (0.45) belongs to Special Sauce's Jack Quinn
- Several fairly unfamiliar players are having great starts: Fransico Liriano (1.91 ERA for PR), Phil Regan (1.14 ERA for PR), and Houston Street (1.64 ERA for LDS)
And he's not the only DC reliever used in this unique way. Steve Howe, Joe Neale, and Mike Jackson are all on pace for close to 100 innings of work and have combined for a 1.97 ERA thus far.