FanPost

Bullpen: Early Returns

I posted this at DBBP, but thought it might make a decent Diary Entry here.

There is only one word that can describe the work of the bullpen over the fist 14 games:

OUTSTANDING

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/Statistics/Team/playerstats?team=ari&seasonYear=2007&split=128 &seasonType=2&type=reg&pagetype=pitching

Some points of Interest:

ERA
Bullpen ERA of 3.27 ranks 8th among 16 NL teams. Of course if you remove Durbin's 7 ER in 2/3 IP the bullpen ERA drops all the way down to 1.45 which would be best in the majors. I guess if you took the worst outing by any single reliever off of any teams bullpen stats in so few games played, they improve alot. But how many mangers allow a single reliever in there long enough to give up 7 runs?  

WHIP
Sans Mr. Durbin, the bullpen whip also drops from 1.48 to 1.32
The bullpen walk rate is still a little high though, even without Durbin. 22 walks in 43.3 IP

K Rate
Currently at 7.16 Not bad, but not exceptional

K/Walk Ratios
red flags here for Lyon, Pena, & Medders. Small sample size, but something to keep an eye on.

Homers
Medders and Cruz have given up all 5 homers by the bullpen so far this year. Nobody else has give up a long ball.

Overall, only Medders has pitched badly. And with his injury history, if I am one of the Melvin/Price/Byrnes troika making these decisions, I push to switch out Nippert and Medders roles RIGHT NOW, and give Medders some extra rest.

Which brings us to everybody's favorite topic:

Usage

So far, Valverde, Lyon and Medders each have 7 appearances, and Pena, Cruz, and Slaten each have 6.

On the surface, it appears that Melvin/Price/Byrnes have done a good job of spreading it around. They haven't. I don't think it has been terrible, but it hasn't been good. For one thing, Nippert only has 3 outings. There are at least a couple more games he could have been brought into, especially the way he has been pitching. In addition there have been at least a couple of times when it seemed that they have been too reluctant to let a guy go the second inning in an appearance.

I think having to get up and get warmed up and hot every day is more damaging than the extra inning once in a while.

All of that said, it really is hard to be too critical. The "innings eaters" have only been average and have not really been eating innings. As a group the starters are averaging just 6IP per start. A few more starts where the starters could pitch at least into the 7th inning wouldn't hurt right about now. Pitching into the 8th would be just peachy.

And the offense has not been clicking, and therefore the team has not had many large leads to work with, (none since the 3rd game of the Washington series). So Melvin has not had the luxury to let the starter go the extra inning with a big lead. (Or has needed to pull a reliever for a pinch hitter in tight ball games.)

What this team really needs over the next 5 games is at least one start that goes 8 innings and a couple of offensive explosions to give the starters and bullpen some wiggle room so Melvin doesn't have to start the one inning reliever revolving door thing so often. Using 3 or 4 relievers EVERY SINGLE NIGHT is going to kill them eventually, just like last year. But the offense and the starters have to do their part to keep that from happening.

We don't have the bullpen depth we had last year. One look at the Tucson roster will tell you that. Other than DJ Carrasco, there isn't anyone in the Tucson Bullpen that I would feel comfortable putting out there against major league hitters. Schulz is still too inconsistent, and Daigle, Murphy and Harville are just not good enough. Peguero might be somebody someday, but I don't think he's ready yet either.

I think at some point in the season, Byrnes is going to be forced to trade for relief pitching, especially if the team remains in the hunt for a playoff spot come the trade deadline. It's hard to imagine the bullpen as it is now staying intact well into August or September. (Or even into July)

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