The Tampa Bay Rays, one of the more uniquely run organizations in baseball, have reached the World Series. A lot of teams have adapted to the ruthlessly efficient, businesslike model that the Rays have excelled with, but nobody managees their pitching staff quite like the Rays.
After teams like the Rays and Astros attained success by emphasizing cost efficiency and youth, many other teams have taken a similar tact, with great effect on the landscape of baseball, from the minor league structure to the free agent market. Front offices are beholden to their ownership group, this new way of fiscal responsibility was destined to spread across the game.
I can’t say that the pitching management scheme will be the same. The Rays most defining characteristic is unflinching faith in their bullpen. While it is certainly a new way of doing things, I’m not sure it’s replicable across the league. Consider what their pitching strategy requires, and where a team like the Twins fails to match them.
It requires having multiple relievers with high end enough stuff to work two to three innings at a time a few times a week, or the ability to use many different pitchers in high leverage situations in several games a week. How many pitchers in the Twins organization could you see them doing that with?
Would you want Tyler Duffey working two innings an appearance a couple of times a week? Would you want Sergio Romo working the first inning every day of a weekend series? Would you confidently trust Jose Berrios to work the necessary volume of innings when he works to give that bullpen a break?
The Rays success is a new way approach, but the constructs to get there are the same as they’ve ever been. They need good development, particularly of pitchers, and they need the talent on the roster to achieve this strategy. Sure, it’s a new way of playing the game, but there isn’t that much difference in running the organization.
There are no shortcuts to becoming the next Tampa Bay Rays.