I brought up this topic a bit in yesterday's gameday thread, but I just wanted to make another post fleshing the details out a bit when I talk about what the Diamondbacks could learn from their philosophy.
First of all, to cut out the chorus of knee jerk responses, this isn't a bullpen by committee. The A's have a set closer in Huston Street who is their best pitcher. They use him in the most important situations. The biggest difference is that they have an organizational philosophy that all of their players can recite about what a "save" is to their team.
I first noticed then when I was watching a post game interview with Eric Chavez. He said something to the effect of " We had the lead going into the 8th inning when the 3,4,5 hitters were coming up so that was the save."
Don't you see the elegance in this approach? I think even Foulpole would agree that saves are a wonky stat - all saves are valued the same whether it's a one-run lead a three-run lead or if you're facing the bottom of the order compared to the bottom of the order. If you save your closer for strict "save" situations, most of the time that means they won't be used in the situations with the highest leverage. Also, the great thing about this approach that many "sabr" bullpen approaches lack is that it still provides that routine and predictability that most relievers cite as an important facet of success. You can see the "save" coming from an inning away and you aren't forced to have your number one reliever constantly get up and down adding to their fatigue.
As a young organization with a strong farm system, it wouldn't be that hard to implement this philosophy. Lyon, too, should be able to adjust to this approach given that it was less than a year ago that he filled that eighth inning role. We shouldn't be losing these close games with our best reliever never getting off the bench.