What To Do With The Bullpen?

by battlingbucs | Jun 18, 2014 - 1:05 PM
The last four games are of course an extreme but even when adjusting our mindset to correct for such it is clear there is something wrong with the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen. Something has to be done to try and fix the problem before it winds up costing the Pirates too many games. The primary focus of most has been on the individual pitchers and I'll get to that eventually but first I am going to start with the bullpen as a whole.

It is well known that the Pittsburgh Pirates lead the National League with 13 blown saves but what is less well known is that they also lead the National League with 84 save situations. What all of this means is the Pirates are successful (aka don't surrender the lead) in 84.5% of save situations which is the 5th best mark in the National League and slightly better than the 84.0% league average rate.

A few of other points of note in the average relief appearance a Pirates pitcher is asked to get 3.5 outs the highest rate in the NL and they are asked to throw 18 pitches per appearance the third highest rate in the league. Pirates bullpen pitchers are also entering these games in tighter situations than most other teams. With an average leverage index (a stat that measures how crucial a situation the pitcher is entering) of 1.139 the Pirates are putting their bullpen into more stressful situations than anyone in the NL save the St. Louis Cardinals.

Combine all this with the fact the Pirates bullpen has thrown the 4th most innings in the league (229 IP and only 3.2 behind the Mets for 1st) I think we can begin to see a problem. Far too often the Pirates are relying on their bullpen to pitch a lot of innings in what are very tight games. It is of course unavoidable to have the relief pitchers throw in these situations but the frequency in which the Pirates are doing so has to decrease in order to help take some stress off of the bullpen arms. Starters going deeper into games and the offense opening bigger leads would be two good places to start.

With all that being said the Pirates bullpen still has many other problems aside from their quantity and quality of workload. On the surface the 3.34 ERA for the bullpen looks solid enough coming in as the fifth best mark in the NL but once we look beyond that we begin to see some serious cracks. The pen's FIP ranks next to last in the league and its xFIP isn't much better ranking 12th. To top it all off they have also allowed the second... [Read More]
    8 Replies | 10,891 Views

Polanco Didn't Make Us Wait Long

by Steelreign | Jun 14, 2014 - 12:58 AM
While it wasn't a home run on the first pitch, in his first MLB at bat, the way that Starling Marte announced his arrival to the Pirates, Gregory Polanco used his first MLB home run, in the last at bat of his fourth game, to announce his arrival to the big leagues. Polanco's two run laser turned out to be the game winner in the top of the 13th inning of a game in which the back end of the bullpen tried their best to give it away. The blast by El Coffee capped his first five hit game in the majors, and he did it in under five games. The last time that a player had a five hit game within the first five games of his MLB career, was in 1933, a rare feat for a rare talent. Polanco's arrival has been anticipated since spring training and his white hot start to AAA season at Indianapolis, and he is the third piece of what should be the best and fastest outfield in all baseball. In his first four games, Polanco has displayed a quick bat that uses the entire field, but until tonight, the most impressive thing I saw from him, was when he beat out a routine grounder to second for an infield single during spring training. Aside from the obvious five tool talent, what stands out about Polanco is his pure joy for the game and the chance to be in Pittsburgh. How many young players would have kept wearing that bubble gum bucket throughout the post game interview? Another gem from the rebuilt Pirates farm system has now arrived in Pittsburgh, which seems to now be a regular occurrence, and out of all of those who have arrived before him, Polanco just might be the best of them, and that includes the reigning National League MVP.
    4 Replies | 10,034 Views

The Pirates Paradox

by battlingbucs | May 16, 2014 - 1:36 PM
Everyone is quick to blame the Pirates struggles on something. The rotation stinks, the bullpen is awful, the bats aren't doing enough, etc but is any of this actually true. Is a certain aspect of this team really performing that much worse than what should have been expected of them? My initial reaction was yes but then I took a step back and while I did notice something it wasn't what some might expect.

The Bullpen

Melancon's blown save has the most recent blame falling on the bullpen. The talk is now is that this is a subpar unit but the numbers really don't back that up. Below are the ERA/FIP for each of the Pirates 7 primary relievers thus far this season.

Gomez: 4.09/5.87
Watson: 1.42/1.94
Melancon: 2.37/2.67
Morris: 3.31/4.87
Wilson: 2.93/2.38
Pimentel: 3.18/4.15
Hughes: 2.70/3.80

Watson, Melancon and Wilson are continuing to build off of last year and post great numbers. Melancon's performance is certainly a step back from last year but Melancon was barely human last year so no big surprise. The threesome is pitching very well. The rest of the bullpen hasn't been pitching as well but they all have been at least by their FIP posting somewhat lucky results. Gomez is what he is a solid dependable long man who is going to allow some runs. Pimentel is a young pitcher still in need of work who probably only made the team due to his lack of options but even so he has held his own. Hughes has done nice work as the 8th reliever. That leaves us with Morris who is once again posting decent numbers despite poor peripherals. More was expected of him but he really hasn't been bad.

Noticeably absent from the above list is Jason Grilli. The start of his 2014 season wasn't great but then again we are talking about a measly 8 innings some of which he presumably pitched while hurting. Yu can mention him with the disappointments but you can't pin a lot on him due to his sheer lack of innings pitched.

The Rotation
I'm going to list the 5 primary starters just like I did the bullpen arms but here I will include ERA/FIP/xFIP

Liriano: 4.25/3.84/3.52
Cole: 3.76/3.95/3.49
Morton: 3.22/4.13/4.24
Volquez: 4.57/4.64/4.37
Rodriguez: 6.84/7.02/4.11

Liriano and Cole haven't been quite the work horses the Pirates and fans had hoped they would be but that isn't to say they have pitched poorly either.... [Read More]
    2 Replies | 24,965 Views

#Pens Can Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma

by Kipper | May 16, 2014 - 9:16 AM
It was announced that the Pittsburgh Penguins have fired both Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma. While it was all but certain that the #Pens would fire Bylsma, it was more of an uncertainty of they had the balls to fire Ray Shero who has been at least equally as poor over the last 5 seasons in failing the organization with poor drafts, bad contracts and poor roster construction that was built for the Regular Season, not the Playoffs.

Should be an active and fun Offseason for the #Pens and #Pens fans!
    34 Replies | 14,868 Views

Mano: How Will Sidney Crosby Be Remembered?

by ManO'Steel | May 15, 2014 - 10:50 AM

It's the year 2034 and the Pittsburgh Penguins have just won their 3rd straight Stanley Cup, officially becoming an NHL dynasty. Everyone is caught up in the moment that they forget about the little run from 20 years back - The Crosby/Malkin era. It began during the 2007-08 season when the Pens and their young nucleus made it to the Cup Finals, losing the series 4-2 to the Red Wings. It then reached its peak the next season during the ultimate Cinderella story - the Pens returning to the cup finals under an intern head coach to face the Red Wings once again, this time winning Lord Stanley in 7 games. Then, some would say it went downhill from there.

It's a really unique scenario because Crosby has won a Stanley Cup and has appeared in two of them. But it's about what he's done after that. No matter who you are - Pens fan or any other fan - Sidney Crosby will always be compared to one of the best to ever play, Mario Lemieux. As of Thursday May 15th 2014, Crosby is still regarded as one of the, if not the, best players in the NHL currently and many think he could go down as being one of the best to ever play. But not everyone may think that 20 years from now.

Both Lemieux and Crosby won their Stanley Cup(s) at young ages, 25 and 21 respectively. And if you look back in the past, both actually share some things in common with each other after that. Both would go on to accomplish more milestones after those years, both had a few injuries in the coming years, and, unfortunately, both would begin to fail in the playoffs. In the 5 years after that, both would continue to post great regular season records, get top seeds, & then lose to lower seeded teams, with Sid getting knocked out by them for the next 5 years and Mario would go on to lose to them 4 of the next 5 seasons (with the 5th being as a 6th seed losing to 3rd seeded Philly).

But if both of them would go on to have the same accomplishments after their cups, the same injury setbacks, the same postseason flops, then why is Lemieux regarded as a top-2 all time player and Crosby is being questioned for everything about him?

As far as I'm concerned, Mario led a team that in my opinion was far inferior to some of the teams Crosby has been on in the past few years. Crosby has had no excuses with the team Ray Shero has put around him, as the Penguins have been... [Read More]
    1 Reply | 15,894 Views

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