The Kansas City Royals proved in 2013 that one of the surest ways to improve your bullpen is to find starting pitchers that can go deeper into games.
And, that brings me to what I believe is the smartest thing we did to construct those solid bullpens of yesteryear. We spent money on starting pitching. One of the reasons young guys like Matt Strahm and Will Smith were able to be used as bullpen arms during those years is because of Ervin Santana, Jason Vargas, and Edinson Volquez. It is probably not a coincidence that when we had our strongest bullpens, we also had multiple veteran starters that could throw 185 innings or more in a season. By comparison, our Opening Day starter in 2018 made less than 160 innings and our Opening Day Starter this year was shut down at 165 innings.
I really like Brad Keller and Jakob Junis and I will always love Danny Duffy. I even think bringing Mike Montgomery back was a good idea. But I would feel a whole lot better about our chances of a winning season next year if we did not need each and every one of them to have their best season ever just for us to be able to compete.
For a variety of reasons, Major League Baseball owners have suddenly decided to no longer engage in bidding wars for free agents, specifically free agent pitching. Most of those reasons revolve around collusion and wanting to keep an ever-increasing share of the pie away from the players, but I digress.
Regardless of the reasons, prices for free-agent pitching have gone from out of this world to being suspiciously reasonable. And, I cannot think of a better time to be an incoming new owner of a small market team eager to make your mark.