Understanding bullpen usage can take a little time. For more information on manager settings that impact pitcher usage, read here - Manager Page.
Deciding When a Pitcher is Toast
Toast is a measure of a pitcher's performance.
- A pitcher who is doing well has no reason to worry about being toast - if a pitcher is getting hit hard, they may be toast.
- The decision of when to pull starters and relievers ranges from "First sign of trouble" (replacing pitchers as soon as their performance drops) to "As a last resort" (keeping pitchers in as long as reasonably possible).
To determine if a pitcher is toast, several factors are considered:
- The number of runs given up.
- The number of players reaching base, with extra-base hits having a greater impact.
- The number of runners in scoring position.
These factors combine to create a toast value.
- If a pitcher's toast value exceeds the toast threshold, which is based on a fixed value plus the manager's toast setting, the manager will make a call to the bullpen.
Special circumstances with closers:
- If the current pitcher is the Closer, the game is in a save situation, and the Closer has pitched less than two innings, they will not be pulled due to toast.
- If it is the 9th inning or later, and it is a save situation, and the manager's setting "Always use closer in a save situation?" is set to "Yes," the pitcher will be automatically pulled.
Deciding When a Pitcher is Fatigued
Fatigue reflects a pitcher's wear-and-tear in relation to their endurance.
- As a pitcher's pitch count increases, they start to fatigue.
- When a pitcher's fatigue falls below a certain threshold, they will be pulled.
- The settings for when to rest starters range from "Exhausted" (pull pitchers when they have completely run out of energy) to "Tired" (take pitchers out as soon as they show the first signs of fatigue).
- It's recommended to start in the middle settings and adjust from there, as extreme settings can have unexpected consequences.
- Fatigue depends on a pitcher's Endurance (EN) rating.
- Each pitch reduces a pitcher's Endurance, and when their endurance level falls below the manager's threshold, the pitcher is considered fatigued and will be pulled.
- Starting pitchers are not checked for fatigue until after three innings, except in specific circumstances such as the 7th inning or later in a tied game or when the pitching team is winning by a nominal margin with runners on base.
Bullpen Decisions on When to Use Setup Men and Closers
In close games starting from the 7th inning, the manager may decide to bring in a setup man or closer from the bullpen.
- These decisions take into account both toast and fatigue, meaning a pitcher may not be toast or fatigued but can still be replaced to bring in end-game relievers.
- The decision is based on factors such as the pitching team's lead, the number of runners on base, the current pitcher's effectiveness, and the inning.
- The manager's setting "Always use closer in save situation?" will bring in the closer in all circumstances when it is the 9th inning or later and a save situation, except when the closer's fatigue is below the Relief Pitchers manager's rest settings for when to pull relievers.
Who Gets the Call from the Bullpen?
When making a call to the bullpen, the decision on which pitcher to bring in is primarily based on the inning and game situation.
- Each game situation has a preferred order of pitchers to bring in: Long Relief, Middle Relief, Setup, and Closer.
- The first available pitcher from the preferred role is chosen.
- Available pitchers are those whose fatigue is above the Relief Pitcher manager's rest settings.
The preferred order of pitchers is as follows:
- 9th inning or later and a save situation: Closer, Setup, Middle Relief, Long Relief
- 7th inning or later in a close game: Setup, Closer, Middle Relief, Long Relief
- 5th inning or later: Middle Relief, Long Relief, Setup, Closer
- All other situations: Long Relief, Middle Relief, Setup, Closer
- For dual-slot roles (e.g., MR1/MR2 and SU1/SU2), the decision on which pitcher to bring in is based on factors such as the batter's R/L matchup, the overall skill of the pitcher, and the pitcher's R/L rating.
- Therefore, dual-slot roles are good opportunities to combine left-handed and right-handed pitchers.