Are bullpens being overused?

Sorry if it’s been a few days, wasn’t sure what to post next after that bad trade fiasco.

It used to be, not too long ago, starters were expected to finish the games they started. Now it appears to me that complete games have become a rarity. Let’s check some teams stats for the current season to see if they back me up. As it’s early in the season, this is admittedly a small sample size.

Complete Games for 5 random teams after roughly 40 games on the season.

St. Louis Cardinals 1
Detroit Tigers 0
San Francisco 2
Oakland 1
Toronto 1

Seems pretty low. Lets check out the histories of several known aces or workhorses and see what they suggest, whether there is an overall decline or if this is just a blip on the radar.

Adam Wainwright CG average per year: Between 2010 and 2013, he averaged 4. He may match that this year as he currently has one.
Justin Verlander: Between 2009 and 2012 he averaged 4, but he had zero last year and currently has zero this year.
Zack Greinke: After having 3 in 2010, he had zero in 2011 and 2012, one last year, and zero so far this year.

I could keep going, but the trend seems obvious: Complete Games are disappearing. Why?

3 big theories, which seem to go hand in hand. Deeper Bullpens, Lower Scoring Games and the Tommy John scare.

Bullpens ARE deeper, and thus managers use them more readily in the later innings, rather than trusting their starters to work out of jams. Plus close games means less margin for error, so managers get trigger happy. My problem there is if you’re paying a guy a hundred of million dollars or 2, he should be good enough to work out of a jam or 3. But that ties into the last reason: The Tommy John scare. Tommy John surgeries HAVE gone up drastically, as pitchers are blowing out their arms more frequently than ever. As a result, teams are afraid of losing their prized asset for at least a year due to surgery and recovery, so they err on the side of caution, monitor pitch counts and remove their starters at the first sign of trouble in the later innings. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if managers have a mandate from GM’s and owners to be cautious with their Golden Arms.

So those are the conclusions I have come to. I Think Bullpens ARE being overused, primarily to preserve those Golden Arms. Comments or Contrary Opinions anyone?

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