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April 27, 2017 6:00 am

Flu-Like Symptoms: Blowin’ in the Wins (Part 2)

8

Rob Mains

What kind of team allows a lot of blown saves?

Last week, I looked at teams that are charged with two or more blown saves in a game. The conclusion was that the number of games with multiple blown saves is increasing, and that increase is largely due to more relievers per game (currently averaging over three per team), creating more opportunities for blown saves. (There, I just spared you reading 1,300 words).

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April 20, 2017 6:00 am

Flu-Like Symptoms: Wearing One

14

Rob Mains

Starters are lasting fewer innings, but the reasons may surprise you.

I’m going to show you a lot of charts in this post. So if you don’t like charts, read one of the other articles on the site today. They’re good!

I’m going to start out by showing you a chart and ask you to guess what it is. The x axis is the years from 1920 to 2016. The y axis is a familiar baseball metric. It’s not something obscure like my article on Monday about multiple blown saves. Here it is:

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April 17, 2017 6:00 am

Flu-Like Symptoms: Blowin' In the Win

9

Rob Mains

If a blown save is bad, what about two or more?

Something odd happened during the Giants-Diamondbacks season opener. No, not Madison Bumgarner hitting two home runs. And not the Giants losing a game they led entering the ninth inning, making Bruce Bochy think he’s living out Groundhog Day or something.

Rather, it’s something related to the scoring of the game. Here is the MLB.com box score for Giants pitchers in the game:

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April 11, 2017 6:00 am

Baseball Therapy: Whatever Happened to Predictability?

7

Russell A. Carleton

It's dinosaurs vs. nerds in the battle of bullpen usage.

In theory, spring training is the place to figure out what a team has become over the winter. The reality of baseball is that teams change, and the plan from last year might need some updating to reflect the new personnel. Got a couple of new faces in the bullpen this year? Well, we need to assign jobs to each of them. Otherwise, they’ll sit out there like little lost puppies, not sure what to do. But what if spring training wasn’t quite enough time to get everyone into place? What if your plans were suddenly derailed by an untimely injury?

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Tire-spinning, one inning at a time.

Note: This article, and the one that preceded it this week, is based on a presentation I made at the Society for American Baseball Research Analytics Conference in Phoenix this month. You can hear the audio here, and follow along with the slides here, should you desire. Fortunately, there is no video.

Part Two: The Legacy of the Modern Bullpen

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Bullpens are better than ever, but comebacks aren't totally dead.

Note: This article (and the one that will follow it later this week) is based on a presentation I made at the Society for American Baseball Research Analytics Conference in Phoenix. You can hear the audio here, and follow along with the slides here, should you desire. Fortunately, there is no video.

Part One: The Modern Bullpen

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Does an ugly blown save hurt a bullpen long after that game is lost?

It’s been a tough September in San Francisco. That even-year magic that should have been carrying the Giants to their fourth World Series title in the last seven years seems to have left AT&T Park (our own Rob Mains has all the gory details).

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The Reds' relievers set a record, the Giants' blow another late lead, and two starters elsewhere don't let their teammates get anywhere near the mound.

The Monday Takeaway

The Reds came into their series opener against the Cubs having allowed 239 home runs on the season, two shy of the dubious major-league record held by the 1996 Tigers. To avoid breaking it, the team that had surrendered 1.6 long balls per game would need to keep the opposition to two, total, over the next 13.

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December 17, 2013 6:00 am

Transaction Analysis: The Only Reed

13

Sam Miller and Ben Carsley

Kevin Towers forgets how he used to build bullpens, and the White Sox take advantage.



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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

Prospectus Today: Late-Game Excitement

8

Joe Sheehan

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.

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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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