This article is part of our Mound Musings series.
Last week, we looked at some potential endgame shakeups in the American League, and this week we'll do the same for the National League. I've always enjoyed looking at bullpens and the pitchers who toil there throughout the season. For one thing, if you can stay one step ahead of the other owners in your league, bullpen analysis can return a very nice dividend for your research, if you can predict the new roles in those bullpens as they evolve – and perhaps more than ever before, they are evolving.
Bullpens can be constantly adapting
Ideally, teams prefer to have fairly specific roles with regard to their daily bullpen assignments. In a perfect world, the starting pitcher would provide six, or, better yet, seven strong innings, whereupon the set-up guys would pitch the seventh and/or eighth inning before turning the game over to the closer to finish things. Yeah. That happens every game. The reality is mediocre (or worse) starting pitchers often get battered early on, and someone has to bridge the gap between, say, the third inning and the seventh inning. That's why a typical bullpen has six or seven available pitchers, and from a fantasy perspective the roles of the bullpen pitchers can be endlessly adapting and evolving. Today's closer can be tomorrow's fourth-inning mop-up guy, while last week's unheralded arm could be working in a key set-up role next week. With relief pitching, it's almost always a "what have you done for me lately" game. A few