Last night Dusty Baker, manager of the Cincinnati Reds, did something that I haven't seen done in quite a while. He had his closer Aroldis Chapman work 2 complete innings. In today's baseball that's a rarity since most managers usually have a set up guy that pitches the 8th while the closer is used in the 9th. Last night the Reds' set up guy Jonathan Broxton was not effective giving up two runs without recording an out so here comes Chapman. Chapman being known as a flame thrower with some control issues and he actually is a flamethrower with an average velocity of 96-97 on his fastball and also had 2 walks in the 9th inning came in and worked the 8th and 9th inning. Not without any drama though. He had to escape the mess that Broxton left him and also had to quiet the "gritty" bats of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Jonathan Broxton has a 4-something era as Chapman's main set up guy so Chapman may be called upon to "close" games for more than one inning quite a few times especially down the stretch run where every win is vital.
The reason this is such a shock to me is because bullpens have taken on a completely new shape since the 70's and 80's. Before it was guys like Dennis Eckersley, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Rich "Goose" Gossage, Bruce Sutter, and Lee Smith who regularly worked more than one inning to "close" a game. Now a days managers want to "protect" their closers by stacking their bullpen with "specialists". There's the ever popular LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY) who comes in when there's a tough left handed hitter and is done after that one lefty so they only face one hitter. Then comes in a righty (who can be the closer) to face the other hitters of the inning. In Dennis Eckersley time he'd have to face every batter lefty, righty, whatever for more than inning sometimes even 3 innings.
Do you know who's to blame for this? That's right Tony LaRussa while in St. Louis he developed this bullpen by committee and that's why the closer role has changed. Even more of a reason why I can't stand Tony LaRussa, but that's a different post all together.