The bullpen started the season pitching poorly, then they were amazing, and now they're back to being bad.
I used to think the talent level was the main culprit leading to the bullpen's inconsistency, but I'm starting to see a trend with Terry Collins that is cause for concern...
Collins seems to run his bullpen by swarming the hot hand. I don't know if this is his call or something designed by Sandy Alderson. It can work well. However, when guys get overworked or become cold, it feels like he has no options to turn to.
Prior to Monday's game, Collins announced that Jeurys Familia and Carlos Torres were both unavailable, due to heavy workloads during the last week. Meanwhile, as Familia and Torres seemingly pitched every inning lately, Jose Valverde is nowhere to be found.
Later Monday, in the eighth inning, Collins turned to Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has done well regularly pitching in relief for the first time in his career. However, in the last three days, Matsuzaka has warmed up three times and pitched it two games, all while nursing a sore calf. Naturally, he had no control and blew a three-run lead, which eventually turned into a loss. This is probably too much work in a short amount of time for a guy who is used to preparing for and pitching every fifth day.
It's a work in progress, I understand. This is usually the case for teams early in the year. Managers need to test their bullpen's ability, workload and preparation to help guide their usage later in the season.
The thing is, I don't like how Collins (and Alderson) seem to be locking in on two or three relievers during a set chunk of time, burning them out, while ignoring other options. I'm not going to say this is wrong, because I don't know the reasoning behind it. But, from my sofa, I see a bullpen with limited talent repeatedly in situations where they're either doing well, but about to be burned out, or they're on the shelf and likely out of sync.
In other words, how is any bullpen supposed to click on all cylinders when it isn't allowed to get their collective cylinders clicking?