Dear John: About This Bullpen Mess…


Gibbers! My man! Long time no speak, bud. It’s Stoeten.

You know? Stoeten?

I’m… it’s… OHHHH, you old pigfucker, you almost had me going for a second there!

But listen shit for brains — I kid! I kid! — let’s skip the niceties and get straight to the goddamn nut here. Right to the reason I felt I should talk to you today, Gibbers. The reason I *needed* to write to you today. And that’s… well…

Look, the back end of your bullpen is a bit of a clusterfuck right now, guy. And I know you know that, but also… the thing is, you’re really not helping it.

Whoa! Hold on! Don’t you fucking smash that bottle on the table and get ready to stab something, John. It’s me, John. It’s Stoeten. Don’t you fucking dare do that — you just listen. Hear me out, John.

I’m not one of the scumbag haters who desperately needs a direction for his finger to point (other than up his own asshole, amiright?). I see why you’re doing the things you’ve been doing. I get that Grilli has been outstanding enough to have earned the right to be bad a few times. I get that some of your so-called leaders went looking for a fight on Monday night, and got one that managed to lose you a setup man in the process — and I’m with ya, buddy, because I too oddly long for the maturity of Jose Bautista, who at least has never seemed to insist his teammates get involved in his many dumb personal battles. And, fuck man, Gibbers, I get that, even with a four run lead to protect, no matter what the supposed win probability is, you don’t exactly want the ball in the hands of Shrimp Tempera, or whateverthefuck his name is, or that weirdo Biagini, or whoever else is back there. You know I love the numbers, Gibbers, but I get it — it only takes a batter or two for “MEUH BUT THE ASTRONOMICAL WIN PROBABILITY” to turn into a real steaming shit-disaster.

I’m not saying that was smart on Tuesday night, though. Hoooo shit, don’t mistake that for me saying it was smart. The numbers exist *precisely* to tell you when your gut feeling is kinda fucking worthless, so maybe try to hear what they’re saying above all the gurgling. (It’s probably just the steak dinner disagreeing with your choice of bourbon, John. Have you ever tried a beer with clamato? I think it might be right up your alley.)

But shit, you almost got away with it, Gibbers! You were one outstanding Hyun Soo Kim at-bat away from fucking well getting away with it. JESUS! Just one incredible swing away — according to Statcast none of the previous 91 balls hit with a similar exit velocity and launch angle have gone yard — and don’t let those swine out there tell you otherwise.

Don’t let anyone tell you it was a good decision to have Osuna pitch four days out of five, though, either. Especially when he was already looking kinda tired — even if his velocity and movement are holding strong — and especially since he is now the 21-year-old with the highest workload of the entire PitchFX era (though, given that he was pitching as a pro in the Mexican league at 16, maybe that isn’t quite as damning as it sounds? He’s a horse! I know it too, John, it’s just… y’know?).

And damn straight I know you know better than I do that being a manager is a loser’s game — that there’s *always* another decision that could have been made when something goes wrong. You know me, Gibbers. That’s why I try harder to understand a manager’s mindset than I do wasting time looking for ways to blame you old fuckers. Ohhh, you’re not without blame in this, John, your calls just maybe aren’t as egregious as the shittiest of shitheads will insist as they strain to see your blemishes under a fucking scanning electron microscope.

And now you’re in a spot, John. Remember when you didn’t trust your lesser relievers to protect a four-run lead the other night? Well, now they have to protect your season. That’s kiiiiiiinda why, on the scale of “just about anything a manager does can be justified” to “holy shit that was dumb,” your overuse of Osuna tends towards the latter. And I’m being kind.

So much of the season feels like it depends on that collection of untrustworthy scrubs and Marcus Stroman right now, John. But that might not even be a bad thing! Stroman has been arguably your best starter in the second half! Granted, that’s mostly because of Estrada and Sanchez having hiccups, and Happ being a shade behind him in terms of IP, K/9, BB/9, FIP and xFIP (though Happ’s ERA has been a half run better, and he’s kept the damn ball in the ballpark). But take away that dogshit start in Oakland coming out of the All-Star break and he’s been even better.

So… you’re in pretty good hands, John. And I hope you think so too, because Stroman’s probably going to be available to pitch out of the bullpen on Sunday — and he damn well should, if the stakes are still this high by then. He can help you in all kinds of ways, John. You trust him, John. Let him help you. Let him. Help you.

Let Brett Cecil, who has been great lately (HAVE YOU NOT NOTICED???), help you too. Maybe even for more than one goddamned out! And Tepera, who hasn’t pitched since the 21st. Or Bo Schultz, who last pitched on the 18th. And Biagini, who has earned a little extra trust for three nice outings after being dogshit for nearly a month. And… well… uh… OK, maybe just those guys. But you’ve got relievers, John! You’ve got options. For fuck sakes, use them!

I know they’re not Osuna or Grilli at their best. I know Benoit was taken away from you in just about the dumbest and most bullshit way possible. I know they’re, evidently, not “your guys” at the moment, but you’ve got no choice now, John. And they’re not all bad! I mean… well… they’re… ugh. You know what I mean.

In a couple of days you can go back to your guys. After that you can add Stroman into the mix — didn’t Liriano look like he can handle a playoff start or three last night, John? — and then Benoit should find his way back. The extra days off that come in the playoffs will only help Osuna and Grilli get back to where they need to be. But you’ve got to get there, John. And holy shit, as strong as a position as you’re in, you sure as hell need things to go your way a bit to do that.

This is the bed you made, my friend. Osuna and Grilli need a breather, and as much as you damn near got away with it — as much as everything would have felt just goddamn peachy if Kim hadn’t managed to foul off that fucking changeup last night, or if he hadn’t quite caught as much of that fastball he hit out — you didn’t! We’re here.

It’s not the end of the world — and I know you know that — and, thank fuck, you’ll be largely protected from overworking guys like this from here out by the schedule, but… I don’t know, John… I don’t know. It’s just… CAN WE MAYBE LOCK THIS FUCKING THING DOWN ALREADY PLEASE???

I know that’s something you can’t make happen. It’s unfair to ask you that. So… it’s just… maybe try not to screw it up?

I know you can do it, John. Or… I mean you can not do it. You can accomplish not screwing this up anymore than it’s already been screwed up! Don’t let last night get you down! You’ve not got this! I don’t believe in your ability to screw this up!!!

So… yeah. Keep your chin up, John. At least until all the liquor in that Gatorade cup of yours is down. Then refill that fucker right away and save some for me, because these next few days we’re all gonna need it.

With something less than malice,