For this post, let’s work with two huge assumptions here. First, that what we’ve seen from Gabe Kapler in the first few games of the season is part of an intentional strategy based on his understanding of how to win baseball games. From this super tiny sample size, here’s what I’m gleaning is that strategy:
1) Platoon, rotate, and substitute position players frequently so that they are in their best match-ups and get regular rest.
2) Pull starting pitchers early so that they are not faced with a lineup three times and get more rest.
3) Have a large bullpen with many call-ups from the minors that is used frequently but for short bursts.
Again, we have no idea from just three games if this is Kapler’s long-term strategy or whether this is merely what happened over the first three games. But for the purposes of this post, let’s assume this is all part of Kapler’s master plan.
Second, let’s assume that this all works. I know this is very hard for people, given the criticism that Kapler has faced in the first week of the season, but let’s assume it. Let’s figure that, even though no position player is getting 650 plate appearances, they all do better with 450 to 550 because they are well rested for the full six months and produce better when the match-ups are favorable.
Let’s also assume that all starting pitchers not named Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber do better when they don’t face a lineup three times. Of course, there will be games like Aaron Nola’s on Thursday where it looks like the starting pitcher could keep going, but when all is said and done, starting pitchers just can’t hack it on a regular basis three times through the lineup, so pulling pitchers early helps prevent extra runs being put on the board. It also saves pitchers’ arms for a long season and prevents injury long-term.
And finally, let’s assume that using a large bullpen with favorable match-ups does a better job in innings 5+ through 9 than stretching out your starter, especially when those bullpen arms are used in very particular situations and match-ups that best fit their skill set. This prevents more runs and gives your team a better chance to win.
I know many of you in the comments are going to fight these two assumptions, but please don’t. That’s not the point of this post. Because what I want to consider is the optimistic scenario where these two assumptions play out. That the Kapler Way of Managing (TM) wins more baseball games and becomes the future of baseball.
As we saw in the first three games, what this would mean would be the following:
a) Interminable baseball, with almost countless managerial trips to the mound that result in position mixing, lineup swaps, and pitching changes.
b) No more full-time position players, as everyone would be getting rest days on a regular basis to keep them fresh and well matched up.
c) Starting pitchers going fewer innings, so not only continuing the longterm flight from complete games, but starters going into the 7th would become a rarity too.
d) Countless relievers in games and on the roster to fill the back end of the game, while staying rested and effective.
In other words, working on these two assumptions — that what we’ve seen is a new way of managing and that this works better than other ways — we’d have long, slogging games, with more interchangeable players in every position.
So here’s the question for you — if this works, are you ok with that? Would you be ok with the Phillies winning more games through these methods and with this result? Or is there a limit to what you’ll accept for winning and will you want something changed, even if it means winning fewer games?
Because, despite the outcomes of the first few games this season, there is a chance that Kapler is onto something and this is the future of winning baseball. After all, the rationales above aren’t so far-fetched. If they pan out, will you be ok with what that does to the game of baseball?
If Gabe Kapler’s methods are effective, are you ok with that?
This poll is closed
Yes - winning is good, no matter what.
Yes - longer games means more baseball, duh!
No - getting rid of regular playing time and starting pitchers going deep destroys the game, wins be damned.
No - longer games with constant bullpen switches are terrible to watch, no matter the outcome.