Pittsburgh Pirates studying Golden State Warriors
By David Hill
It makes sense that, as a team finds an advantage, other teams will look to emulate them. This happens all the time in sports, as a team will find a way to gain a slight tactical advantage, and is then copied by everyone. Just look at the shift, or the specialist reliever. It is difficult to imagine a baseball game without either at this point.
It is strange, however, for a team to look to another sport for a possible advantage in their own. That is exactly what the Pittsburgh Pirates appear to be doing though, as they have been studying the Golden State Warriors as a potential model for an advantage during the regular season and, hopefully, into the playoffs.
Why the Warriors, of all teams? Well, the Pirates were looking to find ways to rest their players more, when they noticed that the Warriors were playing better by giving players fewer minutes. By giving the players more rest, and having the bench play more, the team as a whole may be sharper through the entirety of the season.
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Perhaps this is a further explanation of the depth and multi-positional players that the Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired and developed. Either Jeong-ho Kang or Jordy Mercer will likely be serving as the utility infielder. Corey Hart could play in right if needed. Sean Rodriguez can essentially play anywhere. Clint Hurdle will certainly have a lot of options when it comes to giving players a day off during the week.
It will be interesting to see how this plan of attack plays out during the season, particularly if the Pittsburgh Pirates plan on doing the same sort of resting schedule with the bullpen. While they have a top flight closer in Mark Melancon, will he pitch a little less frequently than in the 72 games he pitched in 2013 and 2014? Will the Pirates look to use their bullpen depth to have five or six pitchers appear sixty times, instead of having the appearances skewed towards their Big Three?
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the Pittsburgh Pirates can bring over from their examination of how the Golden State Warriors handle rest and playing time. If they can duplicate those results, and get the same level of success as the Warriors have had, the 2015 season could be one to remember for quite some time in Pittsburgh.