Bullpen v2 is an attempt to improve all aspects of relief pitching in SOM Online, and is the culmination of years of research, programming, and testing. The goals of the project included:
1. Give the user greater control over how his bullpen should be managed.
2. Improve the computer manager's in-game decision making.
3. Clarify certain mysteries about the game, bullpen-related or otherwise.
Bullpen v2 is available only for the player sets under the main SOM Online site, namely: 2007 season and later, ATG III and later, 1999, 1986, and Back to the '90s.
Bullpen v2 and all of its features are in effect for all newly-created leagues by default (i.e. all leagues that have been created as of Friday, June 26, 2009 at 12pm ET will use the older Bullpen v1), but Bullpen v1 will remain as an option indefinitely. To choose Bullpen v1 for your new league, click on "Advanced league options" on the "Create a New League" page, which reveals the choice between Bullpen versions.
To repeat: Existing leagues as of Friday, June 26, 2009 at 12pm ET will not suddenly start using Bullpen v2; all new leagues created after the release will use Bullpen v2 by default.
You are able to assign Roles to each member of your bullpen, which use an improved version of the CD-ROM game's "Super Hal" bullpen system to give you greater control over which relievers come in in which game situations. The possible Roles include Closer, Closer vs. L, Closer vs. R, Setup, LH Specialist, RH Specialist, Middle Man (early innings), Mopup, Tied & 9th+, Tied & Late (7th-8th innings), and Behind & Late. You'll even be able to assign a backup for each Role in case the primary choice is unavailable. Drag & drop interface preview (note that this is in priority order, so that Eckersley is the primary Closer, and Smith is the secondary Closer):
Don't Relieve Before
For each individual pitcher, you can indicate that you don't want him taken out for another reliever unless he has reached a certain Pitch Count Fatigue level. He may be lifted for a pinch-hitter if he is due to bat before his designated fatigue level, if the computer manager feels it is appropriate. This setting overrides all others, e.g. the pitcher will not "Avoid Left-Handed Batters" or be restricted to "Max 6 IP for start" if he hasn't reached his designated fatigue level.
Note that this is a very powerful, strict setting, and is meant to indicate that you trust your pitcher, up to a certain fatigue level, more than any alternative in your bullpen. Avoid using it on pitchers in whom you don't have as much confidence.
Snazzier individual pitcher control interface
There will be a new section where you can control ALL of your pitchers' individual checkbox settings (Quick Hook, Avoid L, etc.), including the new Don't Relieve Before setting, on one single page. Preview:
New play-by-play report features
Pitch Count Fatigue display (F9 - F0)
The "F9" (or "F7"... down to "F0") you see next to each play is the current pitcher's Pitch Count Fatigue level after that play was completed.
Super Hal Bullpen Role notification
Whenever a pitching change is made as a result of the new Super Hal Bullpen Roles system, it will be indicated on the play-by-play report, e.g. "SUBSTITUTE P - Jesse Orosco (role: LH Specialist)"
Quick Hook notification
Whenever a pitching change is made as a direct result of Quick Hook, i.e. the move would not have been made if the original pitcher were not on Quick Hook, it will be indicated on the play-by-play report, e.g. "SUBSTITUTE P (quick hook) - Sparky Lyle"
Computer Manager Enhancements
In addition to the above new features that will give you greater control over your bullpen, we are also improving existing features, as well as the overall intelligence of the computer manager. These improvements include:
- Improved Quick Hook
- More powerful
- Applies more when it should, less when it shouldn't
- Improved Slow Hook
- More powerful
- (Slightly) improved PH-for-the-pitcher decision making
- Improved Avoid L/R behavior
- fewer instances of such pitchers entering a game vs. their Avoid side
- fewer instances of such pitchers relieving fresh, like-handed, same Avoid pitchers
- Improved handling of pitchers that are tired
- Improved Setup man handling
- More automatic appearances in appropriate Setup situations
- Fewer instances of being lifted too early
- Improved decision-making vs. a pitcher due to hit next
- Fewer instances of pitchers getting left in to get shelled for inning after inning
- More lenient consecutive-games restriction
- Previously, there was a restriction in place wherein the computer manager would avoid using a reliever for a third consecutive game like the plague. This restriction has been relaxed so that a reliever may pitch a third straight game IF his workload over his first two was relatively light, while keeping the overall workload effects basically the same. The definition of "relatively light" is more forgiving for All-Time Greats sets than it is for more modern sets.
Q: The computer made a bad move for me. I thought you fixed it. It's worse than before. We waited all this time for this? You suck.
A: Programming what is essentially artificial intelligence is a difficult, inexact science, and the game would never be perfect no matter how much time we spent on it. I am confident, though, that we've made huge strides of improvement. So while you may still see some head-scratching moves made by the computer manager occasionally, I hope that on the whole you will be able to realize a significant upgrade.
We also anticipate that since a big deal is being made out of this project, the computer manager's decisions will experience increased scrutiny and criticism, and any remaining problems may suddenly be regarded as a downgrade by managers who never were dissatisfied by the bullpen logic in the first place. Although we acknowledge that this phenomenon simply goes with the territory, some benefit of the doubt would be appreciated.
Q: Why did it take so long to explain some of these things we've been wondering about for years? This info could've really come in handy.
A: There are a number of things which did indeed took me a long time to figure out thoroughly enough in order to provide a meaningful explanation, but aside from that, I'm not making any excuses. The most important thing is I'm doing a much better job at documenting things about the game now and going forward.