The Rays' bullpen, to put it kindly, is off to a rough start on paper. What is wrong with what was a perceived strength of the club coming into the season?
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September 18, 2008 11:17 am
A weaker group of bullpens among the contenders might make for a much more interesting October.
On Tuesday, Jay Jaffe examined the recent performances by the bullpens of the teams fighting for post-season berths. It hasn't been pretty in many cases; the Mets have struggled to find effective late-inning work in the absence of Billy Wagner, while the Brewers' relievers contributed to the firing of manager Ned Yost. The Diamondbacks' lost September is in part due to their problems in the late innings, and even teams that look like they'll make the tournament, such as the Red Sox, are managing around pen issues.
Now, more than any time in baseball history, games are won and lost in the
bullpen. As such, more attention has focused on the importance of a good
bullpen as oen significant difference between a playoff team and an
underachieving also-ran. Whether it's explaining the Mariners' inability to
contend despite fielding two of the 50 greatest players in history, or
defining how the Reds are in first place with Steve Avery in the rotation
and Dmitri Young riding the bench, the fortunes of a team's bullpen seem to
dictate the fortunes of the team as a whole.
We recently published the results of a study that looked at whether a good
bullpen could add some sort of synergy to a team's win-loss record above
and beyond the runs that they save, and conversely, whether a collection of
pitchers throwing AckerCurves and WengerTaters would snatch more defeats
from the jaws of victory than the run totals would suggest.
In the study, published at ESPN.com,
we looked at two sets of teams--those with the best bullpens in their league and those with the
worst--and compared the records for those teams with their expected
records, as calculated by the Pythagorean Method.
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