May 5, 2010, 12:45 PM EDT
After eight consecutive scoreless appearances Fernando Nieve finally gave up a run last night. Two of them, in fact, blowing a two-run lead in the eighth inning by serving up back-to-back homers to Joey Votto and Scott Rolen.
New York went on to win anyway, but Nieve’s incredibly heavy workload figures to catch up with him again if manager Jerry Manuel continues to lean on him. In most seasons the league leaders in relief appearances have 85 or so, basically pitching in every other game. Last night Nieve pitched for the third straight day and he’s worked 17 times in 27 games so far this season, which is a 102-appearance pace.
Mike Marshall, Kent Tekulve, Salomon Torres, and Wayne Granger are the only pitchers in the history of baseball to make 90 or more relief appearances in a season and Marshall is the only reliever to ever work 100 or more games in a season. In other words, if the Mets want to have Nieve available and effective in the second half they’ll want to ease up considerably on the workload.
And he’s not alone. Reds closer Francisco Cordero and Dodgers setup man Ramon Troncoso have already appeared in 16 games and Nieve’s bullpen-mate Pedro Feliciano is one of four relievers with 15 outings. I’m all for riding the hot hand (or arm) in the bullpen, but riding them into the ground in April and May seems short-sighted. It’ll be interesting to see if Manuel eases up on Nieve or if Nieve begins to struggle so much because of the overuse that the manager stops leaning on him for performance reasons.
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