MLB relievers: A case for eliminating the 8-pitch warmup

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 29: Kenta Maeda #18 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up in the bullpen before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on April 29, 2018 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 29: Kenta Maeda #18 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up in the bullpen before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on April 29, 2018 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

4 reasons why a manager liked the 8-pitch warmup

I can think of only 4 reasons why a manager would want his man throwing eight more warmups on the game mound after he threw three to even six innings worth of pitches in the pen before you brought him in mid-inning:

  1. The manager and his bullpen coach didn’t pay attention to the pitcher’s bullpen pitch count.
  2. The skipper burned a lot of his pen in this game or the previous couple of games and left himself thin for a day or two.
  3. The pitcher’s in the manager’s doghouse and the skipper might want to deep fry him, maybe especially in his walk year.
  4. The other guys have more than one man on base when the pitcher comes in, with a big swinger looming at the plate, and the manager has either a crisis addiction or a suicide complex.

“Basically,” Herzog wrote, “if I warmed you up twice and didn’t use you, you had the rest of the day off.”

Sound as a bell. This would also require teams to think even more prudently about building their bullpens in the first place. What a concept.

It also doesn’t take that long to bring a pitcher in from the bullpen, whether he prefers to jog in from the pen or whether he hops the shuttle cart. Typically, it takes MLB relievers about a full minute to throw those eight game-mound warmups.

One less broadcast commercial slot to worry about, assuming those involved understand that the common good of the game isn’t always the same thing as making money for it. And that pitcher gets right to work facing a batter.

If a relief pitcher brought in mid-inning thwarts the potential disaster that compelled his coming in in the first place, and he has another full inning’s work ahead of him, then he can throw the usual eight warmups before he starts that inning.

But if he doesn’t have to throw eight more warmups on the game mound after he got hot in the pen already, and the manager needs him mid-inning, that’s saving extra wear on his arm, and the skipper a few extra ibuprofen or Tums. And just maybe a big piece of his eventual pennant.