I was reading Joe Sheehan’s column today about the Yankees, which included the opinion that Joe Torre has “become too aggressive with his relievers—Yankee relievers have thrown 97 innings in 96 appearances, barely one per appearance.”  Sheehan suggested that all these frequent appearances might’ve “burned out” some of the Yankee relievers over the past few years. 

I wondered if a similar usage pattern might be some of the Reds’ bullpen problems — we know that Coffey and Saarloos are both among the league leaguers in appearances, despite relative ineffectiveness from both guys, and fairly long outings from the starters.

Through the first month, Reds relievers have made 79 appearances in 24 games (Belisle had the only complete game, so far).  Relievers have only thrown 63 innings in those 79 appearances.  That means the average bullpen appearance is a little over 2/3 of an inning.  Stated another way, Jerry Narron is using 4.16 pitchers per game, with the 3.16 relievers pitching only 2.5 innings. 

The thing to remember is that every time a pitcher comes into the game, even if only for 2-3 batters, he has already warmed up in the bullpen (at least once), and thrown a half dozen warmup pitches from the mound.  Those pitches add up, over a season.   

The usage pattern is also a little odd, considering that most of the Reds relievers are pretty interchangable, from a style standpoint, and that there’s no real LOOGY skewing the numbers. 

I’ve got nothing to back this up, but all this usage worries me, especially as the season wears on.  Guys like Santos and Saarloos are more than capable of throwing 2 innings at a stretch, which would allow other guys to have a day off now and again.