Commentary

Converting relievers to starters

More and more bullpen arms are being moved to the rotation with surprising success

Updated: April 18, 2011, 12:29 PM ET
By Jonah Keri | FanGraphs
CJ WilsonMatthew Emmons/US PresswireA lot of teams could learn from C.J. Wilson's successful conversion into a starting pitcher.

Dennis Eckersley. Eric Gagne. Mariano Rivera. Most of the best closers of all time are converted starting pitchers. A so-so starter with one or two good pitches can become a 95 mph-throwing, ninth-inning terror when limited to 15 or 20 pitches a game.

But rarely does the transition go the other way. Only a handful of active starters have made the shift from long stints in the bullpen to the rotation, but there appears to be a trend toward trying relievers in rotations, and the Texas Rangers are blazing the trail. The question is: What kind of relievers are best-suited to switch to starting?

Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) is a staff writer for Grantland. His book, The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team From Worst to First, is a national best seller. His new book Up, Up, and Away, on the history of the Montreal Expos, is now available for preorder.