Reason No. 2: Closers by committees are adaptable to unprecedented situations
In my mind, a closer by committee basically just means added depth. When a team has more depth and options, the more adaptable it is to unprecedented circumstances. One of the most common unexpected situations in baseball is injuries. The Rays have shown when a bullpen pitcher goes on the injured list, the next man up comes in and does the job.
Oliver Drake of the Rays had a great 2019 and missed a lot of the 2020 regular season and the entire postseason, but the Rays were still able to manage and reach the World Series. Similar situation with the Yankees, when Chapman is injured, Zack Britton can easily slot in. Although the Yankees do not technically operate a closer by committee system, it is pretty close by adding lots of depth. Having multiple pitchers ready to pitch in a variety of situations provides managers with flexibility and practice for the bullpen pitchers.
In 2020, a closer by committee could have been extremely useful due to the unexpected COVID-19 positive tests around the league. If a team commits to one standout closer to come in for the ninth inning, the team would have to go to its second option if something happened to the closer. The closer by committee avoids this scenario by making anyone in the bullpen ready to pitch in any situation including the save situation.
Operating as a closer by committee or a Rays bullpen system allows pitchers to practice pitching in different situations. Nick Anderson, Kevin Cash’s number one guy pitched in the seventh, the eighth, or ninth depending on the game and when the game was at a turning point. This allows other of the Rays’ top bullpen options to get used to the different high-stress situations to prepare them in the long run. When a team only commits to a single closer, the second option does not have the opportunity to practice in save situations.
So even if the closer by committee does not work so well at the beginning, it provides valuable experience for bullpen pitchers to learn to pitch in different leverage situations moving forward. This is especially applicable to the Seattle Mariners because the bullpen is so young. And Dipoto and Scott Servais basically did just that during the 2020 season, allowing different young pitchers to pitch in different situations.