Nationals Baseball: Bullpen - really good? Or not?

Friday, April 07, 2017

Bullpen - really good? Or not?

Of course we don't know the answer to this today.  I think we entered the year with a couple of fair thoughts.  First, this was the most talented and reliable collection of arms the Nats had started a year with perhaps during the whole window. Second, there was still a measure of variability in these arms beyond the usual "Hey, it's the pen! they don't pitch much!" kind of variability.

The first sounds great but it also speaks to the general questions the Nats have usually allowed the bullpen to start with. This isn't an "A" pen right now. Looking at it it's a "B" pen with potential. But the Nats have been content to start with "C" pens and "B" pens with little potential, so this becomes a high water marks.  The latter speaks to the fact that while all these arms looked good on the mound last year there are fair questions to be asked of each and every one. What would not be a question? A healthy young arm that has pitched well in the majors the past two years. Well Treinen has pitched well for one. Kelley is questionably healthy. Blanton is old.  Glover has little experience. Each one of these have a lacking quality.

This doesn't mean the pen is bad. Like I said "B".  It doesn't mean they can't be great. But it does mean it's fine to have concerns about them and to look to the beginning of the year to allay/confirm those concerns.

How long should we wait?  I'm looking at about 12 normal situations for each pitcher. Don't ask me why 12. 10 seemed a little short. 15 a little long. 12 would be about a month of usage a tad on the heavy side but just a tad. 

What should we want to see? Here's a little quiz.  What do you think the average save percentage was in the majors last year? No. Lower.  No.  Lower

68%

If that seems low remember that you can have multiple blown saves in a game but only one good one. So it's not a great stat for seeing what a pen should do but you could use it to see how the Nats are looking compared to average.  Another thing that could be done is looking at just the save leaders and see how they do.  In general an average year for a good reliever will have about a 90% save percentage. So you should do your job about 9 of every 10 times out. You can give a little leeway for those in middle relief. Maybe say... 10 of 12? If you are around 9 of 12 that's getting to be not good enough. 11 of 12 and that's great.

It's a rough idea. Come up with your own if you like but that's where I am.  I'll update these stats as the year goes on and see how it works and how it matches up with the "feels" and with what the team is doing. 

30 comments:

Carl said...

Did you write this before or after the bullpen's effort last night?

Froggy said...

I hate rain delays. They mess everyone's timing up and always lead to weirdness.

I'm in the 'B' pen camp with you Harper.

Some positives from last night...Gio looked pretty good and got that first one out of the way. Boom! Zimmy continues his quest to be NL Comeback PoTY, (like I predicted last week). Eaton looks great. Bryce is Bryce so far and playing some pretty good D. Wieters will lead the league in IBB's.

As far as the pen goes, benefit of the doubt goes to Kelly and Blanton, as one game does not a conclusion or trend make.

Is the Werthquake back?? Maybe, but where is Rendon?

Adam VB said...

Want to talk about "feels," well I feels like Werth should've been subbed out of the game for Michael Taylor after he hit that homer in the 7th. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference but I doubt Realmuto would have scored from first in the 10th with a more athletic MAT out there fielding the ball down the line.

Fries said...

Rendon's looking ugly right now. I'd feel alright if he were taking good cuts and making solid contact, but dude looks lost at the plate. I know it's early, but I hope he finds it sooner rather than later

mike k said...

Like I said at the end of the last thread, if Turner's 9th inning hotshot went one foot to the left or to the right, we're not talking about the bullpen's collapse, but instead about the feel-good, never-say-die, scrappy Nats, lead by their scrappy young phenom who delivered the timely walk-off in the bottom of the ninth.

68%? For shame, Harper. For shame. If you're going for a per-game rate, you should only count blown saves where the team loses, and only one at that. If you're going to use every blown save in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, then you have to include every individual hold in there as well. I do think this illustrates the ridiculousness of the "blown save" statistic, though - if it's a hold situation, the stat should be blown hold.

Harper said...

Carl - after

Adam VB - Also Dusty didn't PR MAT for Murphy after he got on in the bottom of the 10th and represented the winning run. I don't think it's a MAT thing so Dusty not paying attn or favoring the vets (or favoring the vets for now so they can get their playing time in?)

mike k - oh save percentage is a fairly awful stat but you don't HAVE to include all the holds in there. If we're looking at bullpen effectiveness overall you need that but you can still get a decent impression of bullpen effectiveness in comparison without it.

BxJaycobb said...

1. I'm not worried about Rendon. As long as he is healthy, he will be fine. I have a hard time imagining that a ball fouled off ones calf is going to ruin ones hitting approach. It's crazy early. He's had like 8 ABs.
2. The most encouraging thing about the year so far is Zim never had 3 games where he looked this solid last year. Maybe one such stretch. If he can hit .270 with 20 homers...wow what a boost.
3. It's early. But I would keep an eye on Murphy's power. If I recall, after he came back from injury last year, he continued hitting singles, but his power was sapped. So far no power. Looks more like Mets Murphy. Super early. But I'm watching.
4. The biggest downside about Trea last year was his lack of patience/walks. He walked more in the minors, but if he doesn't have as high a BABIP, it does limit his potential. I'd like to see him walk more. We know he can crush the ball. But if he swings at balls out of the zone, the league will adjust.
5. I thought Gio looked pretty good....and I do mean "look." He clearly is in better slimmer shape. Not a great offensive team though, so we will see.
6. Little bit nervous about Harvey's start. Granted it's the Braves, so it is hard to credit him too much. But I watched the game and he had better command and velocity and life on his fastball than last year. Not 97-98 like pre surgery Harvey, but much improved. If he is a healthy 2.75-3.5 ERA pitcher this year, the Mets will be very tough.
7. I don't like bringing in Solis in the 9th yesterday and giving Treinen no room for error. If he's your closer then give him ownership.

Josh Higham said...

Leaving aside 3 games of stats and going with an eye test/feels approach, I think it's fair to be very frustrated and a bit concerned about the bullpen blowing a Gio-gem, but the Marlins have an offense that features several some very good hitters. Sometimes good hitters are going to win games over good pitchers, and yesterday is an example of that.

We have no substantive reason to believe that Kelley, Blanton, and Treinen are bad pitchers. Treinen, pitching for the third time in the series, gave up a single to a reasonably good pinch hitter and struck out Yelich, which would have been a very solid appearance if there hadn't been a man on 3rd to start with. Kelley and Blanton are a tad elderly and might be worse than last year but we will need a lot of evidence before we can predict DOOM for those two.

BxJaycobb said...

Bryce's second AB today was vintage bad Bryce. Hips swing out early and nothing but arms to wave weakly at outside pitch.

JE34 said...

What will this bullpen be like against a good team? Yikes.

Anonymous said...

Idea: maybe give Treinen a day or two off.

Josh Higham said...

Idea: pitch Treinen every day to follow in the tradition of Matt Williams by being so bad at game management that a potentially great team misses the playoffs.

BxJaycobb said...

Why is there no stories at all about how incredibly inexplicable it is that Jeremy Guthrie is starting tomorrow? It's the 5th game of the year and nobody is injured, yet were using a spot starter?. Either (a) Rizzo and Dusty are so incompetent that they oh so cleverly demoted Ross to AAA because they didn't need a 5th starter for a while and then only realized afterwards that they wanted to give stras extra rest or (b) stras is already having arm soreness and had to be pushed back a day. I'm going with (b). Although even if that's the case, it is utterly pathetic that the organization could be this dumb about demoting ross. Even if it all worked out, it still was needlessly too cute by half and probably made Ross feel like crap. How Chelsea jane/ no journalist asking "so is strasburg alreay hurt"? The circumstances are just bizarre.

mike k said...

Bx - I'm going with (a). Also, they haven't even used Difo yet, and adding him to the roster was the justification for starting Ross in AAA in the first place! But surely he's developing more sitting on the bench than he would be playing everyday in AAA, right?

It's really, really weird that Ross started in AAA if they needed a starter tomorrow.

dc rl said...

BX - I don't think it's that hard to explain. They liked the way Guthrie looked in ST, decided he was the best choice for long man inthe pen, and wanted to keep him around for a while. But they didn't like him enough to cut loose (or demote) one of the other bullpen arms. . . yet. So they told him he wasn't making opening day roster, but would get called up soon. After this spot start, he gets to stick as a long man for a couple weeks. When they need a 5th starter for a regular turn, they can bring up Ross for good, and decide then who's their weakest link in the bullpen and release or demote that guy (or find a reason to DL someone). In the meantime, Ross gets to work a bit in Syracuse, which isn't a bad thing; he wasn't great in ST, and he was hurt and not great at the end of 2016, so a short trip to the minors isn't crazy even based solely on recent performance.

BxJaycobb said...

Dcrl. I really doubt that's what's happened. If it was, why did they originally have stras scheduled to start today? Seems pretty clear stras was sore. And I'm fairly nervous about that. I also don't understand why none of the beat reporters have tried to clarify what's going on here. And lastly, there's just no chance Jeremy Guthrie is still an effective starter, no matter what he did in ST pitching against minor leaguers. So if he gets shelled today and we lose the division by a game, hopefully we'll get a nice explanation for why.

dc rl said...

All I can say is the beat writers I read (e.g. Zuckerman) have been writing for weeks that the way the schedule lined up they needed a 5th starter only for one start this weekend and then not again til April 22, giving them the ability to carry an extra bullpen arm til then. If they kept Ross to make this start, the choices would've been to use him out of the pen between now and the 22d, or shuttle him back to Syracuse for another reliever. Neither one of those is ideal either. I'm not highly confident in Guthrie, but if they thought he looked good in ST, its not crazy to give him a shot.

As for Strasburg, his next scheduled start after tomorrow is next Friday because Thursday's an off day. So if he didn't get the extra day now, he'd get it before his next start. If he's held back from THAT start, you can start worrying.

mike k said...

I was going to say that what dc rl is saying doesn't make any sense, because even with Guthrie the Nats aren't carrying an extra pitcher, but an extra bench player. and playing Ross in AAA so Difo can sit on the bench makes no sense. But I just looked up the Nats active roster, and apparently they sent MAT back to AAA when they recalled Guthrie, so yea, this is an extra pitcher.

Still, it makes no sense because if the Nats knew they needed a starter today, why not have Ross make the opening day roster, pitch him today, and *then* option him to AAA for Guthrie. Either they knew they didn't want Ross (unlikely), or Bx's (a) or (b) scenarios must be true.

Mitch said...

I came here to see if there was a reason that Jeremy F. Guthrie was starting today. Apparently he is the best that the Nats have to offer right now, and with Turner down with injury, I guess the season is over(?)

Mitch said...

And now the bullpen is going to be trashed. What was the thinking here, for this playoff bound team?

Zimmerman11 said...

Go home, Jeremie Guthrie... you're drunk!

Robot said...

Well, this is already ugly.

8 1/3 to go...

Mitch said...

At least we got some innings out of our emergency starter...

Froggy said...

Guthrie's 135.0 ERA must be some sort of Nats record, right?

Brilliant.

Mitch said...

Complete failure of management in week one. The ghost of Matt Williams is more persistent than we thought.

Froggy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sammy Kent said...

We stink worse than fresh chicken ****.

Froggy said...

So, to answer Harper's question at the top:

No.

BxJaycobb said...

It gives me no great pleasure to point out that this was the most predictable and idiotic roster move I can remember Rizzo making....but....see my last comment....

Anonymous said...

Well, about the only bright spots to yesterday were that the Mets also lost, and Luke Gigolo got lit up like the Fourth of July in his AAA start.

And the word is that his arm looks deader than ever. You can go ahead and book it now: he's going on the all-time list of biggest busted prospects in the history of the game.