Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Work That Bullpen!

"Man! This thing has been ringing off the hook!"

After learning the fate of Mariano Rivera, as well as thinking about who will be knocked out of the starting rotation once Andy Pettitte returns, the bullpen has been on my mind. So when I surfed over to SI.com yesterday, and looked their current MLB Power Rankings, I couldn't help but focus on the part about bullpen use. Here is what they had to say, after placing the Yankees 6th...
The Yankees have just one starting pitcher with an FIP under 4.00, and the league average FIP is 4.07. They need better starting pitching, especially with closer Mariano Rivera out for the year. The Yankees are set up well to be able to handle Rivera's loss in the bullpen, as David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and Cory Wade have all pitched very well, but the starters will need to pitch better to limit the innings their relief pitchers are forced to throw. Currently, Yankee relief pitchers have thrown the fourth-most innings in the AL at 93 1/3.
I was happy with that ranking, especially considering the team is currently 4th in the AL East, and has given up more runs than all but three AL teams. The offense has been frustrating at times, but they have scored 141 runs, the 3rd highest total in the younger league. Yet, just like they said in that excerpt from SI.com, it's the Yankee starters that are really causing the most problems for the team. Not only are they at fault for the team needing to crawl out of early holes, but they are taxing the bullpen.

At the time I started thinking about Joe Girardi, and the fact he's lauded for his ability to get the most out of the bullpen without overworking any particular reliever (Scott Proctor just thought about Joe Torre and touched his right arm with a frown on his face). The injury to Mo, as well as David Phelps being removed from the bullpen and added to the starting rotation, has certainly helped matters since the innings they've accumulated so far in 2012 won't effect how Girardi uses his relievers from here on out.

"My relievers are 1st in ERA over the last 3 years!"

So out of the remaining members of the Yankees' bullpen Cory Wade has thrown the most innings with 13.1. After that you have David Robertson with 12, Boone Logan with 11.2, Rafael Soriano with 10, and Clay Rapada with 8. I don't think anybody's concerned with the other two members of the bullpen, nor should they be. At least as far as being overworked.

Cory Wade is on pace for about 76 innings, David Robertson is on pace for 70 innings, and Clay Rapada is looking at about 46 innings, all of which are right around each of their 162-game MLB averages. Meanwhile, at his current pace, Rafael Soriano could only see 58 innings, which is 20 innings less than his 162-game average in his 11-year MLB career. The only Yankee reliever that could throw significantly more innings at his current pace is Boone Logan. However, it's hardly something to be worried about, since I'm taking liberties with the word "significant". Logan could see 65 innings, which is only 14 innings above his 162-game average of 51.

"I can go all night long."

To give you an idea of how they match up against other teams, here are a few notes...
  • The Baltimore Orioles have the 3rd most innings thrown by relievers, however they have three men that have thrown more innings than Cory Wade (the Yankee leader in innings thrown by relievers)
  • The Cleveland Indians are 5th, and have two relievers that have tossed more innings than Mr. Wade.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays are 9th, and have three relievers that have gotten more work than Cory.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays are 13th in total innings thrown by relievers, yet still have one bullpen arm with more innings on it than Wade's... Luis Perez's with 15.2.
  • The Boston Red Sox not only have the 2nd most innings thrown by their bullpen, but Scott Atchison leads all of MLB in innings by a reliever with 20.
So you could say that not only has Joe Girardi done a pretty good job in making sure his relievers haven't been worked too hard, in light of the fact his starters have not given him much length at all (starters are 10th in the AL as far as innings pitched), but in the future things are still looking good too.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)