What To Do About the Bullpen

How to fix the bullpen?

  • A. Move Houck to the pen, and Richards/Perez back to rotation

    Votes: 9 11.4%
  • B. Move Houck to the pen, with Seabold promoted and moved into the rotation

    Votes: 13 16.5%
  • C. Promote Valdez and Rios and shed some dead weight (Robles, Davis)

    Votes: 22 27.8%
  • D. Add some players, like Brice, Ort, Feltman to the 40-man, promote them, and shed dead weight

    Votes: 26 32.9%
  • E. Hang tight and hope guys that are currently on the team get better

    Votes: 21 26.6%
  • F. Something else

    Votes: 2 2.5%

  • Total voters
    79

cantor44

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The bullpen is hemorrhaging. And with the the elimination of waiver deadline deals, the Sox have no capacity to acquire a player of any value from outside the organization. This is beginning to feel like an existential problem, that needs a remedy and quickly. But how?

Braiser and Darwinzon might help in a bit, but Darwinzon not rehabbing yet and Braiser is not throwing well in his rehab so far.

At present, the basic options seem to be moving Houck to the bullpen and Richards (or Perez) back to the rotation; promoting a guy already on the 40-man roster, like Valdez, Rios, or Seabold and reshuffle accordingly; or adding some guys in the system to the 40-man, like Ort, Brice, Feltman, and then promoting them.

Or they could just stay the course and hope some guys start pitching better. Though I think they need to try to find creative solutions here.

Thoughts?
 

brandonchristensen

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Why flip Richards with Houck when Richards has been a lone bright spot recently?

They’re underperforming like crazy and will get better, but it might be worth trying someof the kids.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The bullpen was fine on Saturday. The bullpen was also exhausted after Saturday. I think the best thing to do about the bullpen is to give them some rest. Difficult to do with no days off for the next 10 days.

They're not going to make wholesale changes by calling up guys who aren't presently on the 40-man roster. Swapping guys between the rotation and the pen does nothing as well (we'd be right back to "this rotation is terrible," no?). I think the only thing they can do is try to get through the next couple days then bring up a couple fresh arms on Wednesday when the extra roster spots are added.

They need a long outing out of Pivetta tonight. They need to abandon the idea of a bullpen game tomorrow and put Sale and everyone else on a regular 5 day schedule for a while.
 

BaseballJones

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Rotation: Sale, Rodriguez, Eovaldi, Houck, Pivetta
Bullpen: Barnes, Ottavino, Whitlock, Taylor, Perez, Davis, Robles, Sawamura

I'd keep the rotation but one of the real problems is that again, the starters aren't going deep in any games. And these days, "deep" = six innings. So the bullpen guys are getting way too overworked.

But also... Robles and Davis are not good. They have really never been good. They weren't good when the Sox picked them up. They're nothing but depth guys, not guys you want in a contending bullpen. And the good relievers are also struggling lately - Sawamura, Barnes, Taylor.

Whitlock has been great all year but even he had one meltdown recently that really hurt. And Ottavino has been solid but he can't go every day.

So something has to give. The starters HAVE to go deeper into games. That will give the bullpen a little more rest. I think the good relievers will be fine if their workload is managed a little better. But I'd dump Davis and Robles somehow (for some reason I'm not crazy down on Perez...can't figure out why). And here's a list of guys I'd consider bringing up:

Durbin Feltman - having a solid year in AAA. In August his stats are: 10.0 ip, 4 h, 1 r, 1 er, 4 bb, 12 k, 0.90 era, 0.80 whip. Worth a look-see.

Philips Valdez - we've seen him be okay in the majors (with some notably good performances) and his AAA numbers are fine overall.

Marcus Walden - I don't think he's good but he's not worse than Davis or Robles.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Rotation: Sale, Rodriguez, Eovaldi, Houck, Pivetta
Bullpen: Barnes, Ottavino, Whitlock, Taylor, Perez, Davis, Robles, Sawamura

I'd keep the rotation but one of the real problems is that again, the starters aren't going deep in any games. And these days, "deep" = six innings. So the bullpen guys are getting way too overworked.

But also... Robles and Davis are not good. They have really never been good. They weren't good when the Sox picked them up. They're nothing but depth guys, not guys you want in a contending bullpen. And the good relievers are also struggling lately - Sawamura, Barnes, Taylor.

Whitlock has been great all year but even he had one meltdown recently that really hurt. And Ottavino has been solid but he can't go every day.

So something has to give. The starters HAVE to go deeper into games. That will give the bullpen a little more rest. I think the good relievers will be fine if their workload is managed a little better. But I'd dump Davis and Robles somehow (for some reason I'm not crazy down on Perez...can't figure out why). And here's a list of guys I'd consider bringing up:

Durbin Feltman - having a solid year in AAA. In August his stats are: 10.0 ip, 4 h, 1 r, 1 er, 4 bb, 12 k, 0.90 era, 0.80 whip. Worth a look-see.

Philips Valdez - we've seen him be okay in the majors (with some notably good performances) and his AAA numbers are fine overall.

Marcus Walden - I don't think he's good but he's not worse than Davis or Robles.
Pretty much 100% behind this. Cora also has to let Richards and Whitlock go 3 innings when starters can't go more than 5.
I'm leaning towards calling up Seabold as a starter and get Houck into the bullpen for the remainder of the year even though my long term view of Houck is as a starter. He's going to be in the pen for the playoffs, so best to get him into some middle inning-man on second situations now.
 

BringBackMo

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I’m ready to roll the dice on promoting Seabold into the rotation and moving Houck to a bulk role in the pen in which he works twice a week for a couple of innings. We don’t know that Seabold is ready but he’s shown flashes of the kind of AAA dominance that you like to see before giving a starter a shot in the majors. The real issue, though, is that given the current makeup of the rotation and the pen, a case can be made that Houck going twice a week for 4 or so total innings is more valuable to the team than him going once a week for five. Not giving up on Houck as a starter, but I think this move could help the Sox In September.
 

BaseballJones

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Pretty much 100% behind this. Cora also has to let Richards and Whitlock go 3 innings when starters can't go more than 5.
I'm leaning towards calling up Seabold as a starter and get Houck into the bullpen for the remainder of the year even though my long term view of Houck is as a starter. He's going to be in the pen for the playoffs, so best to get him into some middle inning-man on second situations now.
I forgot to put Richards in the bullpen mix, where he's been pretty good actually.
 

amRadio

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There are only two roster spots coming open in September. Given how small the bench is, I assumed one spot would go to a position player. I also assume they can move people around without burning options in September, so maybe they'll initially go with two pitchers to give the staff a minute to breathe. Maybe I'm wrong about that though.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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There are only two roster spots coming open in September. Given how small the bench is, I assumed one spot would go to a position player. I also assume they can move people around without burning options in September, so maybe they'll initially go with two pitchers to give the staff a minute to breathe. Maybe I'm wrong about that though.
"Burning options" is not really a concern. The only players with options who haven't already "burned" theirs for 2021 are Sawamura, Darwinzon, Taylor, Dalbec, Renfroe, Verdugo, and Devers. Unlikely that any of them are going to be optioned and even if they were, they probably wouldn't be down long enough to actually officially burn the option anyway (not that preserving options is necessary for any of them).
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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The challenge is with the 40-man. The only minor league pitchers on the 40-man are Jay Groome, Bryan Mata, Yacksel Rios, Connor Seabold, and Phillips Valdez. First two are obviously not candidates to be called up.

Bazardo and Brasier are on the 60 day DL, so activating them will requiring DFA. I’d assume Perez, Rosario, and Potts are most in danger of losing their 40-man spots. Franchy being DFA’d seems like a possibility too.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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There are only two roster spots coming open in September. Given how small the bench is, I assumed one spot would go to a position player. I also assume they can move people around without burning options in September, so maybe they'll initially go with two pitchers to give the staff a minute to breathe. Maybe I'm wrong about that though.
The only position players in the minors on the 40-man are Wong (seems like a lock to be called up), Ronaldo Hernandez, Franchy, Hudson Potts, and Jeisson Rosario. I’d assume that the September call ups are guys who are already here (Arauz, Duran, etc.)
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The only position players in the minors on the 40-man are Wong (seems like a lock to be called up), Ronaldo Hernandez, Franchy, Hudson Potts, and Jeisson Rosario. I’d assume that the September call ups are guys who are already here (Arauz, Duran, etc.)
Then there's Kike and Arroyo when they return from COVID. I suspect that the two extra spots will primarily be used for pitchers and they'll go with a 3-man bench the way they have for nearly the entire season. If specific needs arise, they'll make changes just as they have all year.
 

grimshaw

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I mentioned it in the other thread. I'd DFA Robles and get Bazardo up. There is no role he can reliably fill right now and he's no longer under team control.
It was worth rolling the dice to see if he could be the 2019 version of himself, but it turns out that nope, he really is the crappy pitcher he had been in 2017-18, 2020 and this season.

Kutter Crawford and Seabold wouldn't be available until 9-1 and 9-2 respectively either.
 

BringBackMo

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I mentioned it in the other thread. I'd DFA Robles and get Bazardo up. There is no role he can reliably fill right now and he's no longer under team control.
It was worth rolling the dice to see if he could be the 2019 version of himself, but it turns out that nope, he really is the crappy pitcher he had been in 2017-18, 2020 and this season.

Kutter Crawford and Seabold wouldn't be available until 9-1 and 9-2 respectively either.
You're right about Robles. Good point. Bazardo has begun his rehab but I'm not sure how far along he is. Is he expected to be ready soon?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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You're right about Robles. Good point. Bazardo has begun his rehab but I'm not sure how far along he is. Is he expected to be ready soon?
Bazardo spent the last couple weeks in Ft Myers pitching for the FCL team. He made his first rehab appearance for Worcester yesterday (1 IP, 1 BB, 2 H, 2 R, 2 K). Probably a couple more outings from a call up. They presently have an open spot on the 40-man due to Kike and Arroyo being on the COVID IL, so he can be activated anytime.
 

brandonchristensen

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Is there a reason they're only doing 28 players?

That's such a small boost for these teams. Now shitty teams can't let their young guys get a cup of coffee either.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Is there a reason they're only doing 28 players?

That's such a small boost for these teams. Now shitty teams can't let their young guys get a cup of coffee either.
I think the biggest reason is that a lot of folks saw it as damaging to the competitive balance to have those shitty teams giving guys cups of coffee in games that had implications for playoff teams. 28 seems like it's the compromise number between no expansion and the old full 40-man expansion.

The minor leagues have games scheduled right through the end of September now, so it's not like teams would be able to call up an extra dozen players without hurting their affiliates ability to field a full team for their remaining games.
 

VORP Speed

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I think the biggest reason is that a lot of folks saw it as damaging to the competitive balance to have those shitty teams giving guys cups of coffee in games that had implications for playoff teams. 28 seems like it's the compromise number between no expansion and the old full 40-man expansion.

The minor leagues have games scheduled right through the end of September now, so it's not like teams would be able to call up an extra dozen players without hurting their affiliates ability to field a full team for their remaining games.
I think it’s at least as much that as the game gets younger and roster management evolves, particularly around pitching, it totally changes the nature of the game to have essentially unlimited depth in September. Do you want to play the Rays with a 20 man bullpen and 10 man bench? They’d use 10 pitchers, 4 pinch runners and 6 pinch hitters every day. It becomes a different game for 1/6 of the season.
 

jon abbey

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I think it’s at least as much that as the game gets younger and roster management evolves, particularly around pitching, it totally changes the nature of the game to have essentially unlimited depth in September. Do you want to play the Rays with a 20 man bullpen and 10 man bench? They’d use 10 pitchers, 4 pinch runners and 6 pinch hitters every day. It becomes a different game for 1/6 of the season.
But 28 is too low, it's very unhealthy for the sport and I bet is going to lead to some pitcher injuries next month. 30 or 32 seems like it should work all around.
 

GB5

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There are just too many innings that are being allocated to the bullpen even when things go well. The starting pitching just doesnt have the length: 40% of the staff has an upside of 6th innings.

Sale if everything goes perfectly can you get you 18 outs:
Houck: 15 outs

and that is not even getting into EROD. Pivetta has backed up his last two starts, but I generally feel that he and Evoladi can get you into the 7th.

For what it is worth, with all the nonsense this bullpen has pulled the past month, Sawamura's inning on Saturday was the most stressful out of control experience I remember in a while. Absolutely no idea where the ball was going. that was a root canal without novacaine.
 

brandonchristensen

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But 28 is too low, it's very unhealthy for the sport and I bet is going to lead to some pitcher injuries next month. 30 or 32 seems like it should work all around.
Especially since the rosters are 26 now. Adding two bodies isn't much help.

The season is so long, the reinforcements help keep people fresh. If Tampa wants to bring in 10 pitchers a game, let them - most of them will be AAA fodder that may not work out. But I am starting to wish that MLB was a shorter season.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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The Sox have the following players on the 40-man who they would seem very unlikely to call up even if they could:

Groome
Mata
R. Hernandez
Potts
Rosario

I’m assuming that ultimately, Brasier probably replaces Robles or Perez, if deemed heal

Kiki, Renfroe, and Arroyo come up; Munoz goes down.

Assuming perfect health; that leaves Arauz, Duran, Santana, and Wong fighting for the two additional spots.

If they could keep 30-32, they probably would but those guys seek pretty marginal to me- given the Sox lack of depth they seem unlikely to benefit from normal expanded rosters as others would.
 

AB in DC

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Is the bullpen really a burning issue at the moment? Fangraphs right now has Boston 5th in the AL in WAR, ERA, FIP, and XFIP. They do have the worst BABIP in the league, though, suggesting that the problem isn't who's on the mound but who's behind it.

Certainly they've been a bit overworked lately (especially with so many extra inning games and so few off days) but that seems manageable.
 

RIrooter09

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The defense is this team's biggest problem. It's making our pitching staff look far worse that they actually are.
 

joe dokes

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The defense is this team's biggest problem. It's making our pitching staff look far worse that they actually are.
This is where I am. The defense is playing a large part in making a reasonable/average staff and pen look like dogshit.
But I am not sure what to do about it.
 

Harry Hooper

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I'd prefer something like a 30-man roster in September, but only 27 players active for a given game.



The season is so long, the reinforcements help keep people fresh. If Tampa wants to bring in 10 pitchers a game, let them - most of them will be AAA fodder that may not work out. But I am starting to wish that MLB was a shorter season.
Having sat through multiple September Tampa bullpen parades organized by Joe Maddon, you do not want to let that practice continue.
 

Manramsclan

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I don't understand why the Sox would DFA Robles. He is not great but a guy throwing in the Upper 90's out of the pen is useful. He's basically Brasier except he has a history actually closing games at the Major League level. He is not the "Answer" but he can be a part of a good bullpen. He has just had higher leverage appearances than he probably should and that is not his fault.

Perez, however, should be DFA if he is not going to at least "open" games. His stuff doesn't tick up like some players do in the bullpen, and you can't bring him in with men on. He has come in with 5 run leads and blown them and if you can't pitch him then when can you?

I think that moving him back into the rotation as an opener is a good idea. II would like to see the Sox be creative and piggyback Perez/Houck. If Perez can get you 9 outs with a clean slate as starter that's a victory. Then Houck can come in and pitch in a long man capacity possibly get to the 8th. If Perez sucks you give him the quick hook and Houck will pitch and they are in the same situation that they were in before. If it doesn't work DFA him because he just doesn't fit anywhere else.

I've been wondering why Durbin Feltman hasn't gotten a call yet. I'd like to see him get a chance.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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This is where I am. The defense is playing a large part in making a reasonable/average staff and pen look like dogshit.
But I am not sure what to do about it.
Hasn’t there been a whole bunch of discussion already that showed that the defense what is fine? I believe it was in the ERod thread that showed he was just flat out unlucky and the defense behind him had very little to do with it.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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The bullpen’s primarily problems are in the games that Whitlock isn’t available. It’s very difficult to get 12+ outs without him, made even harder with Barnes not being trusted. It’s the reason why I think Houck needs to be moved to the pen.

It’s also not clear how much the defense is hurting the pen; while Ottavino, Barnes, Davis, and Taylor have much better FIP than ERA; the opposite is true of Sawamura, Whitlock, and Hernandez. Overall, Sox relievers FiP and ERA are the same.

Their biggest challenge is walks; walk rate of 4.3 is better than only Detroit among AL teams. In non-Whitlock games, and with Barnes, not trusted, Cora has to piece it together with the following walk rates

Sawa 5.6
Otto 5.2
Taylor 4.6
Robles 5.2
Davis 5.2
Hernandez 6.9

Perez doesn’t walk many but is awful against righties and gives up too many homers. I think he should be released.

Richards has been good as a reliever, if Houck stays in the rotation than stay should increase his usage.

Getting two relievers who profile similar to the guys they already had was less than ideal.

(To bring a guy like Feltman up, they’d have to DFA someone. For whatever reason, they’ve seemed really reluctant to do that this year).
 
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RIrooter09

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Hasn’t there been a whole bunch of discussion already that showed that the defense what is fine? I believe it was in the ERod thread that showed he was just flat out unlucky and the defense behind him had very little to do with it.
We’re dead last in defensive efficiency, and significantly worse than the next worst team (Baltimore). It’s a major problem.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Hasn’t there been a whole bunch of discussion already that showed that the defense what is fine? I believe it was in the ERod thread that showed he was just flat out unlucky and the defense behind him had very little to do with it.
That may be the case in ERod's starts, but the defense is still last in the league in efficiency, so they aren't exactly a neutral influence on the pitching staff overall.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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To what extent is defensive efficiency influencing by pitching with runners on base? The Sox whip (1.39) is third worst in the league. The teams with the four highest whip all have much worse era than fip, while the top six teams in whip have better era than fip.

Of course, worse defense will lead to more hits and more baserunners. Is there a way to see BABIP broken out by bases empty / runners on?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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To what extent is defensive efficiency influencing by pitching with runners on base? The Sox whip (1.39) is third worst in the league. The teams with the four highest whip all have much worse era than fip, while the top six teams in whip have better era than fip.

Of course, worse defense will lead to more hits and more baserunners. Is there a way to see BABIP broken out by bases empty / runners on?
You mean like this?

Bases empty = .338 BABIP
Runners on = .311 BABIP
RISP = .306 BABIP
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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That may be the case in ERod's starts, but the defense is still last in the league in efficiency, so they aren't exactly a neutral influence on the pitching staff overall.
Sorry to belabor this point- and I'm asking not in defense of the defense but just to get a better understanding of the statistics. I don't doubt that the Sox defense has been shitty... it's clear to anyone watching. Dalbec isn't good. Devers has range and all the good tools from watching but he makes so many mental errors and it seems since the AS Break that he's really gotten less focused rather than improving as was hoped. Xander I think is better than the stats indicate also but definitely isn't good back there. Arroyo and Kike have both been good overall despite the post AS blunders....But how many opportunities with the ball put in play does the IF defense really have during the last 3-4 innings? I just have a hard time putting the bullpen implosion onto infield defense. Barnes just isn't pitching as well... the entire BP walks a ton, putting guys on base and then screwing up shifts and positional adjustments, thereby putting the IF defense into a bad situation, and the OF as well as they have to play prevention positions rather than aggresive and more shallow.
 

grimshaw

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I don't understand why the Sox would DFA Robles. He is not great but a guy throwing in the Upper 90's out of the pen is useful. He's basically Brasier except he has a history actually closing games at the Major League level. He is not the "Answer" but he can be a part of a good bullpen. He has just had higher leverage appearances than he probably should and that is not his fault.
His velocity isn't really relevant since his command is terrible and 2019 is looking more like the outlier. That and he is not at all pitch efficient so getting any length out of him is difficult. Perez can at least take one for the team as the last guy out of the pen. Not that anyone would care if he also went.

The way the game is evolving, the bottom part of bullpens are being used in higher leverage situations league wide. You're not seeing 6 innings, set up, set up, closer much anymore. It's taking another arm or two. If you can keep a revolving door of useful AAA guys with options who really couldn't do worse than Robles, maybe you have more flexibility to bring in rested arms. The Sox haven't had much give in that department lately but from the way they are building so much depth it may be something they are focusing on for the future.

They may not feel like they have a better internal option or think it's worthwhile to clear room for one, but it's frustrating that they are losing games along the margins.
 
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Max Power

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But 28 is too low, it's very unhealthy for the sport and I bet is going to lead to some pitcher injuries next month. 30 or 32 seems like it should work all around.
If you give teams even more pitchers, they're just going to have everyone throw even harder for even shorter appearances and get injured just as often. Every attempt to protect pitchers over the last few decades has instead been used to try to get a competitive advantage. Innings pitched go down, strikeouts go up, and pitchers keep getting hurt. Adding even more roster spots strikes me as very unlikely to do anything but continue that trend.
 

cantor44

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This is where I am. The defense is playing a large part in making a reasonable/average staff and pen look like dogshit.
But I am not sure what to do about it.
And unfortunately as much as Schwarber adds to the offense, his presence has equally hurt the defense, putting JD or himself in LF ... He really needs to be able to play first base for his addition to the team to make sense in totality ...

So, yes, the defense has been terrible. Meanwhile, though, the pen has blown a shit ton of games ...no one is pitching well aside from Whitlock (and surprisingly, Richards!) ...Even with good D allllll those walks ... and deep fly balls that go over the fence ....
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Continues Bloom’s pattern of picking up players who have been really bad lately. He has a 7.68 era in 34 AAA innings. 14 bb / 38 k. Only pitched in 3 big league games last year, but ok numbers in 19.

Bloom’s fifth acquisition post deadline, I believe.
 

strek1

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This is where I am. The defense is playing a large part in making a reasonable/average staff and pen look like dogshit.
But I am not sure what to do about it.
Yep. Saw it again tonight at a critical time with the Devers error late in the game. Inexcusable.
 

jaytftwofive

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It was such a surprising first half, that's what makes this season so disappointing. I don't don't think there's anything left to do with the Bullpen or rotation for that matter. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer or pessimist but the realist in me says it's over. All we can hope for now is somehow some of them bounce back and try to get them back in the race. For the Wild Card of course. Like the Rays or not, you have to admire what they do with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.
 

Rovin Romine

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The bullpen was fine on Saturday. The bullpen was also exhausted after Saturday. I think the best thing to do about the bullpen is to give them some rest. Difficult to do with no days off for the next 10 days.
Cora's managing scared and painting himself into corners with his reliever usage. On Aug. 26, he continued with Whitlock, Richards, Barnes with the Sox up 10-2.

On the 27th, he did fine. (Despite a screwball lineup and committing lead-off to a callup.)

On the 28th, he used everyone, knowing Houck was starting the next day. By the end of the day he'd traded a coin-flip extra innings win for a gassed pen with a 4 inning starter the following day.

And then he got a no-hitter through 6. . .and couldn't land the plane.

Last night he had Sawamura up along with Espinal - but thankfully, he just let Espinal finish since the A.C. Aggressively ran aground somewhere south of Fairbanks.
 

cantor44

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Cora's managing scared and painting himself into corners with his reliever usage. On Aug. 26, he continued with Whitlock, Richards, Barnes with the Sox up 10-2.

On the 27th, he did fine. (Despite a screwball lineup and committing lead-off to a callup.)

On the 28th, he used everyone, knowing Houck was starting the next day. By the end of the day he'd traded a coin-flip extra innings win for a gassed pen with a 4 inning starter the following day.

And then he got a no-hitter through 6. . .and couldn't land the plane.

Last night he had Sawamura up along with Espinal - but thankfully, he just let Espinal finish since the A.C. Aggressively ran aground somewhere south of Fairbanks.
I will say I agree with Romine about Cora's usage of the pen the since the ASB. I've mentioned this before, but I think Cora smartly spreads innings and position player starts around the first half of the season. I think this is important for several reasons which I won't go into here, but they're obvious. However, Cora's has had two big left feet, certainly in the last month at least, when the team needed to kick things into a different gear. Of course there's been worse than a regression to the mean with the bullpen, so in some instances he's just had bad choices (like last night). Then again, the fraying of the pen is partly attributable to his quick triggers all around, burning too many arms in too many games too often.

An example would the game 7/28, Romine refers to above. Pulling Whitlock then burnt Perez and subsequently, and more importantly, Ottavino. It made no sense to put Perez in there (did anyone really think he's finish the inning?).

The quick triggers of Houck and Pivetta, famously, in the front games of doubleheaders when both were cruising on low pitch counts (73 and 58 respectively), caused all kinds of cascading troubles. (We see Cora has kind of learned his lesson there, by stretching both those guys in subsequent games, though ironically he pushed them when they weren't exactly cruising, revealing maddeningly brilliant reverse instincts, or the troubling penchant for overcompensation ...). There are many other examples, and I'll say, on the honor system, these are not hindsight criticisms on my part.

Then again, like, Barnes is now terrible and before he was playing at an all-star level. Had he maintained his first half performance, the whole season looks different right now. Sawamura, Taylor, and Ottavino, all looked stellar for a long stretches, and all are wobbly now.

I guess my point is, both things are true. Cora over taxed them, and has made a whole host of dubious decisions along the way, AND, well, some guys have regressed so much, that their drop off can't be attributable purely to usage. It's just a shit sandwich combo platter feedback loop of epic proportions.

And now COVID. So ... they only answers, it seems, are getting longer starts (and Cora learning how to ride out or not ride out a starter given his work THAT DAY, rather than just making formulaic - or compensatory - switches), and letting the young talent try to rise to the occasion.
 
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