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Jeff Passan hates the Rays bullpen (and every other bullpen)

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The anchor of ESPN baseball wants to fix baseball by breaking the Rays pitching approach.

Jeff Passan was recently a guest on Hannah Keyser’s excellent Yahoo! Sports web series, and has a “humble proposal” for fixing what ails the sport we all love: fewer pitchers!

Fewer active pitchers, at least.

The result purportedly, “grows stars,” “speed up the game,” and “induce more contact” by returning baseball to revolving around starting pitchers who shoulder significant innings, vaulting those pitchers into true face of the franchise types that can drive interest in the sport, and also adds offense because pitchers need to be able to last longer in games.

As built to start the season, the Rays did not take on the unique approach to building a bullpen like we might have expected.

As the Rays brought in the likes of Rich Hill (who starts today), Chris Archer (who starts tomorrow), and Michael Wacha (who may piggyback during this Yankees series), we speculated that the Rays were pursuing a slew of interchangeable “bulk” pitchers that could all cover twice through the order.

In other words, as we’ve been hoping since 2016, it looked like the Rays were finally ready to kill the start!

That didn’t happen.

Instead, the Rays assembled more short relievers than we could have anticipated, including Nick Anderson, Pete Fairbanks, Diego Castillo, Ryan Thompson, Chaz Roe, Andrew Kittredge, Cody Reed, Oliver Drake, and Jeffrey Springs. It was the kind of depth you build to withstand injury, and injuries have occurred (Anderson, Roe, Drake); nevertheless, the Rays bullpen remains traditional, the sort of pen that Jeff Passan clearly wants to get rid of!

Would Passan’s proposal break the Rays current approach? Absolutely.

Could Passan’s proposal lead a team like the Rays to take the opposite approach and finally kill the start entirely?