FAQ: How Sparky Uses His Bullpen Topic

when you suss it out, we will give you five figures

signed, the chinee
3/6/2010 8:38 PM
Wondering about no-hitters and whether that still factors in to Sparky's decision-making process?

In a DL league, I had Caruthers with a no-hitter thru 6 innings (85 pitches) and had a 5-1 lead ... but reached his TPC-80 (not MPC-90).

Dont get me wrong, I'm glad he was pulled on schedule ... but thought that there was some logic to keep a pitcher in a bit longer if they had a no-hitter going.

Bob Caruthers, W (10-8) 100 6.0 0 1 1 5 1 0 85 3.48
Frank Knauss 98 1.2 1 0 0 1 0 0 20 2.96
Jack Pfiester 95 1.1 0 0 0 0 1 0 17 1.50
3/7/2010 8:25 AM
According to article #41 in the Knowledge base:

  • Anytime the starting pitcher is throwing a no-hitter after the 7th with a lead and is under his MPC, the sim will not remove him (even if he has exceeded his TPC).
  • So there is some logic here, but it was too early in the game for it to apply to Caruthers in that situation.
    3/7/2010 9:26 AM
    I have a couple of teams mid season that are going nowhere. I can experiment with them first before deciding on setting up an experimental league. I will keep a journal and see if anything useful can come of it. Edit my thinking if you will. Here is how I am thinking about proceeding.

    Pregame entry:
    Adjust pull settings to 3 for all pitchers. Keep default autorest settings. Using 15 pitches per inning adjust TPC and MPC accordingly for each pitcher. Check "any" for available inning for relievers. Relievers tagged Setup A and Setup B. Record fatigue levels for each pitcher.

    Postgame entry:
    For each pitcher change record PC, what inning he was pulled, score and situation. record who was called in to game his fatigue level.

    I'll do this with one team pull setting 3 and one team pull setting 2. After a whole bunch of games and a whole bunch of pitcher changes and entries I can change pull settings to 1 and 4...then end the season on 5

    What should I change or adjust in your opinion? Keep in mind I am attempting only to find out what I can about how the pull setting logiic works in a very specific way. Nothing yet about closers, mops. this can be fine tuned later for that.

    3/7/2010 10:14 AM
    Completely agree with just4me; mop will be used before the closer in a tie game, from time to time. "Only when losing" is a rule that is broken, depending on what Sparky "sees." I've also had this confirmed by Support, who have called it "one of the first rules that gets broken."

    Understanding you don't want to get into everything at once, but the question of handedness is for me a nasty one, and is not confined to specialists. LHP are brought in from a full pen to face RHB in key situations a lot of the time. I've even had it happen that LHP faces LHB, and the sim switches the opposing batter to RHB but leaves in the LHP.

    Personally, I'll go along w/skindogg: I would love to know how my pitchers can be used according to my wishes. I have done a lot of wrangling on this, though, and my conclusion is that I cannot know it with any degree of precision, as things stand. I've been told by Support that if you want that degree of control, you've got to play Live.

    In some strange way, here's what Sparky does: he looks at the total "supply" of pitchers and doles them out accordingly, sometimes hoarding them and sometimes being profligate. At the same time, he has not the slightest notion of what the game situation is on the ground. He does not look at who the next hitter is, or why it might be a good idea to close a game down NOW instead of two innings from now; and I say this in spite of my continuing impression that in this sim, batting order is unusually important. What the sim does with hitters and what it does with pitchers are completely disconnected. There is no process that simulates reasoning with regard to how to play things.

    My 2 cents.

    3/7/2010 10:36 AM
    rasluggo: I agree that the "only when losing" is one of the first instructions that gets overriden; in algorithm 2c I have it as the 2nd (and sometimes 1st) instruction that Sparky will overlook if he has no available pitchers.

    As for the LHB/LHP situation, my opinion is that unless you have designated a pitcher as a LH/RH specialist, Sparky does not consider the platoon advantage that much when bringing in a pitcher. Which I am personally fine with. When I want Sparky to favor a specific pitcher in platoon situations, I use the specialist options. But this is very very rare.

    And for what it's worth, in my opinion the SIM does a pretty good job with managing the pitching staff. Sparky has to simultaneously try to do 3 things: win the game, follow your instructions, and manage the supply of pitchers. And possibly a 4th: mimic what a "real" manager would do as closely as possible. I believe that programming that level of complexity is very very difficult, and in probably 150+ games in any given season, I am pleased with how my pitching staff was handled. In the 10 or so games when I am not pleased, most of the time it's because I made a mistake or didn't adjust settings properly. I would guess there are no more than 2-3 games in any SIM season in which I feel Sparky really makes a suboptimal decision. That's pretty good (and for what it's worth - a much better proportion than almost any real life manager I could name.)
    3/7/2010 11:02 AM
    I don't have any specific examples but I believe the order of these two is wrong:

    -- Use a rested starting pitcher in relief, even if his "relief" box is not checked
    -- Use a fatigued pitcher (probably starting with the "least fatigued" pitcher)

    I believe that Sparky will go to a tired RP before he will go to a rested SP who isn't set to be used in relief. I think the "relief" checkbox is more powerful than the auto-rest in this situation.

    I frequently find my whole 'pen tired and typically I'll see my setupA at 70% come into the game, it's exceedingly rare to see a non-relief starter in those situations.
    3/7/2010 11:34 AM
    With which I largely agree, contrarian23.

    Because I find this an interesting and worthwhile thread, I would make a couple of more general observations, putting me up to about 4 cents worth.

    Any owner is smarter than Sparky, because owners are human and Sparky is not. Nevertheless, Sparky is in one way---his ability to compute---superior to most humans. Humans cannot see, or do not care about, what Sparky sees; and Sparky certainly doesn't care about what humans see.

    Secondly, let's look at the question of "caring." Humans do care, at least sometimes, whether a certain pitcher is brought or not, and such is the basis of the complaints. Recently, across many disciplines, there has been a burst of literature hashing over the not-unfamiliar proposition that humans are risk-averse when they make decisions. Most of them, some contend, would rather avoid losing something than taking a risk to gain something.

    I suggest, then, that human baseball mangers quite often will manage in a "risk-averse" fashion, but Sparky never will; he will only manage so as to maximize the overall probability of gain. By and large, as you point out, this tends to work. Consider, however, the special situations, which while rare can nonetheless be spectacular.

    By the latest reports, the Air France flight went down last year because, being strictly faithful to available inputs and to the absence of key inputs due to icing, the fly-by-wire systems and computers on the plane abruptly shut themselves down, the effective result, which was complicated, being to deny control of the aircraft to the men flying it. In another case, it has been credibly suggested that one of the factors in the financial meltdown---and in no way am I suggesting that human wrongdoing was not everywhere present in the matter---was that too much trust was placed in certain computer alogorithms. These algorithms worked fine, most of the time---except that they relied 100 percent on a certain slice of historical data, which did not enable to them to understand or react when something unexpected happened.

    The point being, with regard to pitchers and baseball games, that 10 games a season blown because of what most humans would see as "incorrect" decisions on Sparky's part, are a lot of games to lose in that way, in highly competitive leagues.

    (Humans being humans, also, there is surely a bias in all the complaints in the direction of looking at how many times Sparky gets it "wrong" rather than how many times he gets it "right.")

    Still, I would like to see Sparky be much more flexible, i.e., be more willing to relinquish control to human managers.

    Undoubtedly, as you say, this is quite difficult indeed for programmers to accomplish; and in a business sense, you get the programming you are able to pay for. That the sim works as well as it does is a credit to its creators.

    3/7/2010 11:35 AM
    Quote: Originally Posted By jfranco77 on 3/07/2010I don't have any specific examples but I believe the order of these two is wrong:

    -- Use a rested starting pitcher in relief, even if his "relief" box is not checked
    -- Use a fatigued pitcher (probably starting with the "least fatigued" pitcher)

    jfranco, you may be right about this. This is one I've been coming back to since I first wrote this stuff down in a Word doc about 3 weeks ago, and I have had my doubts about it. I'm going to watch this one carefully - if any other owners can post specific observations on this situation, I would appreciate it.
    3/7/2010 11:43 AM
    Brilliant thread by contrarian. It adds another thoughtful chapter to the body of really good discussion on this forum. I was wondering how RL IP/G affects use of the pull setting.

    Let's say you have two SP, one with RL 6.5 IP/G and the other with RL 8.5 IP/G. Both have thrown 90 pitches through their first 6 innings. Both have a TPC of 100 and a MPC of 110. Both give up a walk and a HR to the first 2 batters i n the 7th, Both have a pull setting of "2," and neither has reached either his TPC or MPC.

    Leaving aside the "who's available" issue, is Sparky more inclined to pull the pitcher with RL 6.5 IP/G who is approaching his RL IP/G average than the one with RL 8.5 IP/G who is not? For the sake of argument, let's say exact same scenario as above, but the game is entering the 8th inning rather than the 7th. Again, for the sake of argument, let's say both pitchers have a low PC of 90 through 7 innings. Is Sparky more likely to pull the pitcher who has passed his RL average IP/G than the one who has not, all other things being equal?

    I guess what I'm driving at (in my roundabout way) is how much Sparky's logic depends not just on your pull, TPC and MPC settings and who you have available in your bullpen, but what Sparky "knows" about your pitchers' in-game fatigue, which you can guess at but won't know as precisely as he does?
    3/7/2010 12:47 PM
    Good point.

    Further, talking directly about the sim:

    What is the evidence that Sparky in fact proceeds on a case-by-case basis, looking first at this pitcher and then at that pitcher, etc.?

    Are the owner settings really instructions, i.e., control inputs that apply in limited, specific ways (whether or not this is what WIS says they are)?

    Or are the owner settings in some way handled globally? Does Sparky read them all at once, or all together, and using that information as his "knowledge," does he prioritize the use of pitchers according to his own lights?

    Or---is there, in general, a shut-off threshold according to which Sparky chucks all of the instructions and goes to Plan B, if any?

    I think one of the things to look at is what all of the "exceptions to the rules" have in common. Is there something that Sparky is always trying to get at, in those situations?

    'nuff for now.
    3/7/2010 12:54 PM
    For those interested in reading more about this topic, here are some good threads worth checking out in the knowledge base:


    Article 15: How Sparky chooses when you have multiple available pitchers with the same role designation.
    Article 30: How the mop-up is used.
    Article 36: What the different roles mean and some general guidelines on how Sparky uses them
    Article 39: How autorest works (key point: a pitcher fatigued below his autorest setting is treated exactly as though you set him to "rest")
    Article 41: TPC vs MPC
    Article 46: When Sparky will use a pitcher who had been set to "rest"
    Article 47: Why a pitcher may be in the game (this article heavily influenced my outline of "algorithm 1")
    Article 770: How LH/RH specialists are used
    Article 591: How the SIM determines its pitching role recommendations (one read of this will make you realize you should never just take these as given)
    3/8/2010 1:15 PM
    Quote: Originally posted by winnetka1 on 3/06/2010set up a theme league. ask people to join and set aside egos and ambitions and follow very regimented  instruction on how to set pull settings, rest level, set up a, set up b, mops, closers etc. Create a thread in theme league owners forum so situations can be reported on in a formatted way continuously throughout the season. we could create enough data to crack the code so to speak. get 8,12,16 guys willing to pony up a season and follow strict instruction regardless of wins/losses.

    I'd willing to pony up two teams if anyone wants to get this going...
    3/10/2010 10:44 PM
    7/1/2010 1:03 PM
    Good stuff contrarian.  One thing I didn't see discussed here is the A/B designation on pitchers.  The rules say that Sparky is supposed to use A ahead of B as long as A is rested above his rest setting.  I recently had the 1st game of the season in which the Long B pitched while Long A didn't even appear in the game.  I honestly can't see any reason for Sparky to have done that, and probably the only reason I noticed was that it was the 1st game of the season.  Just wondered if you have come across that kind of thing before.
    7/2/2010 8:42 PM
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    FAQ: How Sparky Uses His Bullpen Topic

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