What Does LRP Mean in Baseball?
Baseball is evolving in many ways. From the increased use of analytics to new strategies for using pitchers, it's clear there's new ways to play the game.
With these changes come new statistics, metrics and terms. One of those terms is LRP.
If you're wondering what it means, then keep reading.
What Does LRP Stand for in Baseball?
In a baseball context, LRP stands for "long relief pitcher", which is also commonly referred to as "long reliever".
A long relief pitcher is used to eat up innings when a starting pitcher is pulled early in a game.
For example, a team scores five runs in the third inning, causing the starting pitcher to be taken out of the game.
With many more innings left in the game, the manager opts to send in a long reliever to pitch for the next two, three - or more - innings.
With many specialty relievers not used to throwing more than an inning or two, long relievers are a valuable resource for teams as they bridge a gap between starting pitchers and short relievers or closers.
Other Facts, Figures and Related Info on LRPs
There are a variety of other things associated with LRPs that are important to know.
For one, long relievers are different from other relief pitcher roles, such as middle relievers and closers.
Middle relievers are regularly used to pitch just an inning or two. They are often a stepping stone at the end of the game to transition the ball to the closer, who pitches the final inning in an attempt to save the win for their team.
Another note about LRPs is that the long relief pitcher position is in fact not technically a position on the roster.
MLB teams divide their rosters by pitchers and position players, and they do not specify the specific role each pitcher on the roster actually plays.
Lastly, there can be a tendency for long relief pitchers to transition to a starting pitcher role if an opportunity opens up on their team. After all, these are pitchers who are trained to throw for multiple innings.
A good example of this is pitcher Garrett Whitlock of the Boston Red Sox.
Whitlock served in the long reliever role for Boston in 2021, but in 2022 he has been used by the Red Sox in the starting rotation multiple times thus far.
LRPs in the Big Leagues
Who are the Top LRPs in the Major Leagues?
There are a wide variety of LRPs in the big leagues today. Some of the top ones, in our opinion, are the following:
- Keegan Thompson. The Chicago Cubs pitcher is effective at eating up innings. In 2021, Thompson maintained a 3.38 ERA across 32 games/53.1 innings. So far in 2022, he has pitched even more than 2021. As of this article's publication date, Thompson has thrown 67.1 innings over 17 games and has kept a 3.34 ERA. That's an average of nearly four innings per game.
- Michael King. Off to a great start in 2022, Michael Young has pitched 41.2 innings for the New York Yankees across 26 games. He has 56 strikeouts and a 2.38 ERA so far. In 2021, King worked 63.1 innings over 22 games, ending the season with a 3.55 ERA.
- Keegan Akin. Baltimore Orioles pitcher Keegan Akin is averaging 2.5 innings per game so far in 2022. He's tossed 39 strikeouts and kept a 2.35 ERA across 46 innings this season. The previous season, Akin averaged nearly four innings per game across 24 games - all of which were in relief.
This is just a subjective list, of course. There are other solid LRPs in the game today.
Some other standout long relievers in the big leagues today include pitchers like Tanner Banks, Wil Crowe and Jalen Beeks.
Epic LRP Performances in Baseball History
There have been a number of memorable performances by relief pitchers going multiple innings in high pressure situations.
Here are some of the top LRP performances in recent baseball history.
During game one of the 1966 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Baltimore Orioles, Dave McNally was pulled in the third inning after walking three straight batters.
Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Moe Drabowsky was called in to get the Orioles out of the jam.
Drabowsky went on to pitch the next 6 ⅔ innings for the Orioles without surrendering an earned run.
In that timeframe, he worked with catcher Andy Etchebarren to strikeout 11 batters and get the win for the O's.
Another notable performance by a pitcher in a long relief role was Rollie Fingers in the 1974 World Series.
The Oakland A's hurler appeared in four of the Series' five games, throwing 9.1 innings in relief and keeping a sub 2.00 ERA.
For his solid pitching, Fingers was named World Series MVP, which is a pretty rare honor for a relief pitcher.
There have been many other noteworthy performances by a LRP besides these two. For example, Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt throwing four scoreless games in relief during the 2014 World Series.
Or New York Yankees pitcher Mike Stanton winning three games during the 2000 postseason, successfully bridging the gap between Yankees starting pitchers and lights out closer Mariano Rivera.
That's a Wrap!
We hope this article answered any questions you had about the LRP term and long relievers in general.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch with us.
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