Gabe Kapler is bringing a unique and forward-thinking style of managing to MLB. Even if it hasn’t come to fruition just yet.
Through four games the Philadelphia Phillies are just 1-3 on their latest 162 game quest. They’re a young rebuilding team who is also sporting a rookie manager, Gabe Kapler, who has taken a lot of heat over the first week of the season.
On opening day, the Phillies skipper decided to pull Aaron Nola after just 68 pitches and five and a third innings of work. After Kapler decided to pull his starter, who was through five scoreless innings, the bullpen imploded and gave away a five-run lead.
Despite the bullpen failing in this scenario, Kapler may have been on to something here. Statistics say that batters have an advantage over the pitcher the more times they see them.
According to FanGraphs pitchers, ops-against rises from .705 to .731 to .771 the first, second and third time through the order. Most managers try to get 90-110 pitches from their starter if they are still effective but new analytics show pitchers become less effective after facing a lineup twice.
That’s why most teams are putting a focus on the bullpen as opposed to the starting rotation. If you get five average innings out of your starter and then can turn it over to an elite bullpen you’re in good shape.
Kapler isn’t the only one who has thought this way. Last year, before the American League Wild Card Game Brian Kenny of MLB Network suggested that the Yankees “bullpen” the game
Bullpening a game is when you use only relievers instead of using a traditional starter. This is the future of baseball and Gabe Kapler can be ahead of the curve when it comes to MLB managers.
Yes, him forgetting to warm up a reliever before putting him in was bad but let’s not dismiss his new age thinking just four games into the season.
The Phillies are a couple years away from competing so they might as well work out the kinks of this relatively new ideology now, while they’re still in the building phase of the plan. If baseball really is going in this direction, and the Phils are two years ahead of the curve with Kapler it puts them at an advantage over the other teams in the league.
Don’t throw in the towel on Gabe Kapler just yet. Just because it’s different and not what you’re used to doesn’t mean it’s bad.