Bullpen v3 is an effort to at least moderately curtail the "Super-Reliever" phenomenon, whereby managers have historically been able to have certain pitchers pitch 200+ innings in relief, sometimes upwards of 250 (and 300+ in All-Time Greats). A recent survey we conducted found that a large majority of the Strat-O-Matic 365 community regards it as a problem that needs to be addressed. The changes we've made will be in effect for the 2019 season, All-Time Greats 9, the Dynamite 2000s Mystery Card player set, and beyond.
Our main philosophy was to focus on more realistic bullpen construction, more reasonable and less exploitable settings options, and more realistic rest patterns. We wanted to mostly avoid adversely affecting relievers' in-game performance, and instead have the computer manager be more judicious about bringing them in. We found that the logic in the game engine had some notable deficiencies regarding rest patterns that we've attempted to address.
While we know we'll never reach the point where bullpens in Strat-O-Matic 365 will look exactly like today's real-life bullpens, where teams utilize a double-digit number of relievers over the course of a season, we expect that these changes will result in managers constructing bullpens that more closely resemble at least a traditional concept of a realistic bullpen, and with more predictable and realistic results.
In our testing, we have found that these changes resulted in would-be "Super-Relievers" pitching approximately 65-75% of the innings they would have previously pitched, which turns out to be still many more innings than a modern pitcher would pitch in real life, but is in line with our initial goals, which was to diminish the problem without making changes that would be too drastic.
Bullpen construction and settings
- The Pure Reliever requirement has been raised by 1 (from 4 to 5 for modern seasons beginning with 2019 and the Dynamite 2000s Mystery Card set; from 3 to 4 for ATG 9 and beyond)
- The number of Super Hal Bullpen Roles a given pitcher may have has been limited to 2
Not having a limit on Roles prompted managers to assign all of them to their workhorses in an attempt to use them as much as possible, which is not only unrealistic, but also results in unpredictable decisions by the game engine because some of the Roles have additional internal rules that conflict with each other.
- Pitchers with the Mopup bullpen role may not have any "Avoid using before" checkboxes checked
A pitcher in the Mopup Role already has situations in which the computer manager avoids using him, so the "Avoid using before" checkboxes are unnecessary at best, and counterintuitive at worst, since they are all geared towards preserving your best relievers for more important situations.
- A long outing may now result in more than 1 suggested day of rest
Previously, one day of rest was always enough for the computer manager to declare that a given reliever was ready for duty. He would enter the next game with a possibly lower initial Suggested Pitch Count if he was worked hard before the rest day, but the computer manager would not hesitate to bring him in after just 1 day off. Now, if a given outing is particularly long, the computer manager may decide an additional, 2nd day off is called for.
- Now more hesitant to use a reliever for a 2nd straight day if the 1st day was a long outing
Previously, a long outing by itself (i.e. well-rested before the outing) would not mandate a day off the following day. The pitcher would enter a game on the next day with a possibly lower initial Suggested Pitch Count, but the computer manager would not hesitate to bring him in for this 2nd straight day. Now, if a given lone outing is particularly long, the computer manager may decide an immediate day off is called for.
- "Avoid using before" checkboxes are now less strict
These checkboxes were initially geared towards preserving your best relievers for more important situations, but managers would end up using them to bury their worst relievers. In our documentation we'd previously said, "This is close to, if not 100%, strict." We are now relaxing this strictness a little bit.
- Suggested Pitch Counts for relievers reduced by 20%
These were previously too high. Reducing them does not mean a reliever will necessarily get tired faster; it means the point after which giving up baserunners begins to tire him arrives a little sooner. This will not artificially tire relievers who are pitching well.
- Impact of Slow Hook reduced
We've reduced the impact of Slow Hook, as we realize it's one of the more effective means to create super-relievers.