A long reliever (aka long man or mop-up man) is a relief pitcher who is expected to pitch more innings per appearance than other relievers. Typically, a long reliever is called upon when the starting pitcher is struggling early in the game, generally before the 5th inning. He may also be brought in when the manager wishes to conserve the arms of other relievers, such as mop-up duty for the last few innings of a game in which either team has an insurmountable lead or an extra innings game.
Because long relief is rarely used in critical situations, it is typically the least prestigious role in the bullpen. The nature of the long reliever role, however, demands stamina more like a starter than a typical reliever. For these reasons, long relievers may be either young pitchers who need time to adjust to big-league batters before cracking the starting rotation, or former starting pitchers in the twilight of their careers. Often, however, long relief is the role of the swingman, a pitcher who isn't good enough to break into the starting rotation.
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