Setup man

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In baseball, a setup man (or set-up man, also sometimes referred to as a setup pitcher or setup reliever) is a relief pitcher who regularly pitches before the closer. They commonly pitch the eighth inning, with the closer pitching the ninth.[1][2]

As closers were reduced to one-inning specialists, setup men became more prominent.[3] Setup pitchers often come into the game with the team losing or the game tied.[4] They are usually the second best relief pitcher on a team, behind the closer. After closers became one-inning pitchers, primarily in the ninth inning, setup pitchers became more highly valued.[5] A pitcher who succeeds in this role is often promoted to a closer.[6] Setup men are paid less than closers and mostly make less than the average Major League salary.[7]

The most common statistic used to evaluate relievers, the save, is unkind to setup men.[citation needed] Due to the definition of the statistic, setup men are rarely in position to record a save even if they pitch well; but they can be charged with a blown save if they pitch poorly.[citation needed] The hold statistic was developed to help acknowledge a setup man's effectiveness,[8] but it is not an official Major League Baseball statistic.

Setup men are rarely selected to Major League Baseball All-Star Games, with the nod usually going to closers with large save totals.[9] Some setup men who have been selected include Brendan Donnelly, Hideki Okajima, Carlos Mármol, Mike Stanton, Jeff Nelson, Arthur Rhodes, David Robertson, Tyler Clippard, Hong-Chih Kuo, Brett Cecil, and Steve Delabar. A setup man has never won the Cy Young Award or the Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player Award.

Francisco Rodriguez, who was a setup pitcher for the Anaheim Angels in 2002,[10] tied starting pitcher Randy Johnson's Major League Baseball record for wins in a single postseason after recording his fifth victory in the 2002 World Series.[11]

Tim McCarver wrote that the New York Yankees in 1996 "revolutionized baseball" with Mariano Rivera, "a middle reliever who should have been on the All-Star team and who was a legitimate MVP candidate."[12] He finished third in the voting for the American League (AL) Cy Young Award,[13] the highest a setup man has finished. That season, Rivera primarily served as a setup pitcher for closer John Wetteland, typically pitching in the seventh and eighth inning of games before Wetteland pitched in the ninth. Their effectiveness gave the Yankees a 70–3 win–loss record that season when leading after six innings.[14] McCarver said the Yankees that year played "six-inning games", with Rivera dominating for two innings and Wetteland closing out the victory.[12]

Illustrating the general trend, both Rivera and Rodriguez were moved to closer soon after excelling as setup men.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zimniuch, Fran (2010). Fireman: The Evolution of the Closer in Baseball. Chicago: Triumph Books. pp. 154, 168. ISBN 978-1-60078-312-8. 
  2. ^ Felber, Bill (2006). The Book on the Book: An Inquiry Into Which Strategies in the Modern Game Actually Work. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-312-33265-5. Retrieved January 5, 2011. 
  3. ^ Zimniuch 2010, pp.168–9
  4. ^ Zimniuch 2010, pp.169
  5. ^ Zimniuch 2010, p.163
  6. ^ Zimniuch 2010, pp.165,168,171–3
  7. ^ Zimniuch 2010, p.169
  8. ^ Zimniuch 2010, pp.169–70
  9. ^ Rancel, Tommy (June 24, 2013). "Set-up guys who would be worthy All-Stars". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on October 11, 2014. 
  10. ^ Curry, Jack (October 11, 2002). "Rodriguez Is a Fantasy Player Like No Other". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 11, 2014. 
  11. ^ Johnson, Chuck (February 20, 2005). "Rodriguez set to close for Angels". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 11, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Zimniuch 2010, p.221
  13. ^ "1996 Awards Voting". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 9, 2012. 
  14. ^ Zimniuch 2010, pp.219–221