Sunday, April 22, 2012

Worst to First: Bullpen Improvements

No, I'm not talking about the Orioles winning the AL East this season.  Nor am I literally saying that they are going from worst to first.  This post is really more about one area where the team has shown vast improvement over last season.

Last season the Orioles bullpen ERA was 4.18, good for 4th worst in MLB, and 2nd worst in the AL behind those pesky Minnesota Twins.  Not to mention that the FIP of 4.31 that group posted shows we could have been even worse.  Those were good times.  No lead was safe, and excitement at the end of games was common (especially for other teams).

This season however, things are looking up.  The bullpen has an ERA of 2.25, the 4th best mark in MLB this season and 2nd best in the AL behind that team from New York.  Granted, FIP calculations (the O's bullpen has a FIP of 3.78 this season) suggest that the 'pen is in for some regression.  Despite this, the bullpen has impressed, and here's how they've done it:

Kevin Gregg

Let's just move on... nothing to see here.

Troy Patton

Oh Buck.  Patton versus left-handed batters: 13 batters faced, 3 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks.  Patton versus right-handed hitters: 18 batters faced, 6 hits, 3 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 0 Ks.  If we would stop putting Patton in against right-handed hitters he might be able to bring that 4.91 ERA down.

Pedro Strop

Strop has been a pleasant surprise thus far as I imagined he'd have a few more growing pains than he has.  He's sporting a 2.25 ERA with a 2.45 FIP and 2.79 xFIP to prove it's not a fluke.  Good stuff.  He's also striking out a batter an inning and getting 78% groundballs.

Darren O'Day

O'Day is sporting a 1.29 ERA, mostly as a result of his phenomenal peripherals.  O'Day has K and BB rates of 9 and 2.57 batters per 9 innings respectively, and has stranded 100% of the runners on base against him.  I would also expect his 47% GB rate to come up a bit meaning he might be able to sustain some of this success.

Lindstrom, Ayala, Johnson

These three are currently posting a combined ERA of 0.00 over 21 IP.  Ironically, Johnson has pitched pretty poorly, with a low K rate and a high BB rate, but that hasn't caused him to slow down as he leads the AL in saves.  I obviously don't expect all 3 to finish the season with 0.00 ERAs, but thus far they've been impressive.

At this point a perennial weakness looks like it might be a strength for this team.  Honestly, I wasn't sure about the bullpen heading into the season, but 3 of the pickups made this offseason have turned out pretty well so far.  Worst to First, one part of the team at a time.

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