Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Quick Look at the Dominating Run by the Pirates' Bullpen

The Pirates bullpen provided another solid outing yesterday, 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Not quite as good as the dominating stretch we saw right before the All-Star break, but still very good. Over the last 30 days, from June 24, the Pirates bullpen has been the best in baseball. With the Pirates starters continually failing to go deep in games, the Bucs pen has pitched 104.1 innings in the 24 games played over that stretch, an astounding average of 4.1 innings/game, the most of any team.

During this run they have posted a 1.98 ERA (2nd), a 3.15 FIP (3rd) and a 3.55 xFIP (5th). The reason the Bucs are a little lower on the list in xFIP is that they have done an excellent job of keeping the ball in the park, allowing only 8 HRs, 0.69 HR/9 (3rd) during the current stretch with a GB% of 48.7% (5th). They've also done a great job of preventing batters who reach base from scoring with a league-best LOB% of 88.6%. (League average tends to come in around 70-72% depending on the season.) They have accumulated 1.6 WAR (1st) and are 9-1 (if you care about assigning wins & losses) with 11 saves (1st). Their 23.9% K-rate ranks 8th and their 6.6% BB-rate is 5th. Looking at some of the more advanced metrics, the Pirates also lead in WPA and RE24.

Here is a look at the individiual performances of the ten relievers who have seen action during this span. What stands out is how good a job Clint Hurdle has done of spreading out the workload among the group:


Juan Nicasio                             11      18.1        5
Jared Hughes                            11     13.2        3
Tony Watson                             13      13.0        1
Arquimedes Canminero            11      12.2        2
A.J. Schugel                              11      12.2        5
Mark Melancon                         13       12.1       2
Neftali Feliz                               13       12.0       3
Jon Niese                                    3        7.1        2
Jeff Locke                                    1        2.1       0
Kyle Lobstein                               1        0.0       0

Currently the Pirates are 50-47, 8.5 back of the Cubs in the NL Central and 3.0 games back of the second wild card spot with 65 game to play. With the trade deadline 8 days away it is going to be interesting to see if Neal Huntington seeks to add to the bullpen. The Pirates should have plenty of options once rosters expand September 1, but will Huntington look to supplement this group before then? One thing seems certain, the continuing struggles of the Pirates starters mean the bullpen may well decide the team's playoff fate.

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