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Counting innings, Sept. 1: An exercise in bullpen management

How should Kevin Cash deploy his bullpen over the next two days?

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

With the cascade of pitching injuries they’ve suffered this season, the Rays could have been in a tough spot right now. Today and tomorrow were the game two games that bill was supposed to come due — the point at the end of a long run of games where the bullpen would be stretched beyond its ability and the starters would be unavailable.

Surprisingly, that’s not where we are right now. Let’s check in on the Rays bullpen anyway, take a look at how we got here, and count innings the innings manager Kevin Cash has available going into the September 3rd off-day.

Here’s how the bullpen was saved:

  • On August 28th, Ryan Yarbrough pitched 6.2 innings (before leaving the game with a groin injury), which set up Pete Fairbanks and Diego Castillo to secure the remaining seven outs.
  • On August 29th, Josh Flemming pitched a scoreless 5.1 innings, and Ryan Thompson, Edgar Garcia, Aaron Loup, and John Curtiss got the remaining 3.2 innings.
  • On August 30th, Blake Snell pitched five innings. Anthony Banda (now DFA’d and traded to San Francisco for cash considerations) was then only able to get through one inning, but Aaron Slegers and Ryan Sherriff shutout the Marlins for the last three.
  • Yesterday, Tyler Glasnow dominated for six innings, and Garcia, Fairbanks, and Castillo finished out the night.

That’s solid work from the starters, which enabled a pretty nifty rotation of the relievers. Nobody was overworked, and likely everyone except perhaps Garcia is now available going into consecutive starts by Trevor Richards and a returning Charlie Morton. An off-day will follow.

Dominik Vega

So how should Cash be playing these next few days? First the constraints:

  • We think Trevor Richards is stretched out to about 90 pitches. Call that four innings, five if things go well.
  • We think Charlie Morton is good for about 40-50 pitches. Call that two innings, three if things go well.
  • If Castillo or Fairbanks pitch today, they probably cannot pitch tomorrow.
  • Slegers can probably pitch more innings tomorrow (let’s say 3) than he can today (let’s say 1+).
  • The Yankees are a very right-handed team, with Aaron Hicks at 3, Michael Tauchman at 6, and Tyler Wade at nine being the only lefties in today’s lineup. That means that there’s no obvious spot to use Loup, and to a lesser extent Sherriff and Reed. This consideration only really applies to high leverage.

So how do you plan out these next two days if you’re Kevin Cash? Answer in comments or game thread. I’ll throw mine in here as well.