Traditional stats suck. Now all statistics will be subject to small sample size variation. But for stuff like wins, losses and ERA they are especially subject to it. Quite especially relief pitching. Because even one month into the season you can’t see any kind of tendencies forming around. Probably more than half of all bullpen arms have ERAs at or near 0 since they haven’t yet had a chance to have the kind of meltdowns that balloon ERAs. Then of course you have the other extreme where a guy has four or five good outings then he totally poops in next next one causing ERAs north of Saskatchewan. Neither extreme is representative of true talent level so you need at least half a season to get a handle on whether these RPs are any good.
K% rates and BB% rates are better since with a month of playing time you have many more samples but even they can be subject to intense variation this early in the season.
April 26th. Kevin Jepsen of the Minnesota Twins. We all make mistakes right? In Kevin’s case, his mistake traveled about 400 feet give or take. This is what happens when you fall behind the count and throw a 1-0, 94 MPH chest high fastball to Mike Napoli:
Dang that went yard! Should have located that first curveball better Kevin. It has to be quite frustrating since he already had two outs. He was about to close the door on the Indians when Napoli ruined his night. It was the only blemish on an otherwise good outing for Jepsen, but when your team is up only by a run, all it takes is one bad pitch to flush it all down the toilet.
The Indians would rally and win it by walk off in the bottom of the 9th but not before Danny Santana tried to steal second base and even replay review couldn’t save him. That robbed Brian Dozier of the opportunity to play hero since he immediately doubled to get himself into scoring position. At this point, Cody Allen intentionally walked the rejuvenated and resurgent Joe Mauer… only to lose the game to Miguel Sano. Joe Posnanski has an excellent blogpost on the perils and misadventures of intentionally walking hitters but even he would admit, this was the right time to do it: bottom of the 9th, opposing winning run at 2nd, first base open, a very dangerous hitter at the plate.. Yep, you give up a free base in this scenario. If Dozier scores it doesn’t matter who’s on first anyway. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t:
At least Jepsen got a nice shiny W to go along with the blown save. Step right this way Mr. Jepsen, we have great accommodations in this prestigious and hallowed club of shame…
April 29th. Brad Brach of the Baltimore Orioles. The surprising thing about Brad here – I can call him that right? – isn’t that he vultured, it’s that it took him so long to get here. So far this season he has more blown saves than holds. Roll the dice often enough and it will come up snake eyes. For Brach, Friday was snake eyes. Take a look at this 2-2 pitch to Brett Lawrie:
Snake Eyessssss. It was the first home run given up by Brad too! If you’re feeling a sense of deja vu that’s because like our previous entry, this was a chest high 94 MPH fastball. Remember that Brett Lawrie isn’t an MLB fringe player. He was a top prospect in the Brewers system and has shown flashes of great play. If there’s something Lawrie knows how to hit, it’s chest high fastballs. Fortunately for Brad, his teammates were there to pick him up (I don’t mean that literally, this wasn’t a fall-on-your-knees-on-the-mound Kershaw moment).
Or maybe he should thank Robin Ventura.
He has this tendency to leave his starters in the game for too long. For some reason, he thought it would be a good idea to put Carlos “Wild Child” Rodon, out for the 7th. Hey, maybe Carlos was up for it. But after two singles that put two men on with no outs you would THINK he would come in for the hook. Naaaah….
See Ya! Rienold for the three run shot. Brad should send Ventura a thank you note. Maybe he could have Jimmy Fallon write it:
(dramatic low volume piano music in the background)
“Thank you… dear White Sox… for hiring a manager with no sense of when to pull starters from the game.”
Brad Brach, 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA. Dennis Eckersley, eat your heart out
May 1st. Aroldys Vizcaino of the Atlanta Braves. Considering how horrific the Braves have been so far this season you would think opportunities for vultures would be few and far between. Yet here we are. Vizcaino was brought in to close the game out. I’m sure he was very confused since he’s the closer and closers only come in the game to preserve a victory. Oh wait, double take, the Braves actually have a LEAD in the 9th inning… carry on.
This was his THIRD save opportunity so far this season. Save OPPORTUNITY. That tells you how often the Braves are giving leads to the back end of their bullpen this year.
He didn’t start off very well because he walked Ben Zobrist. Man… never let the leadoff hitter get on base. He struck out La Stella so that helped his cause… but then he tried to pick off Zobrist and instead threw it beyond first base. Zobrist motored all the way to third and came home on an Addison Russell single:
I’m willing to bet you were expecting a 94 MPH fastball right? No, this was an 85 MPH changeup. I think. I didn’t look closely. May have been a slider. The fun part in all of this? The run was UNEARNED. Vizcaino retired the next two hitters and the run that scored didn’t get charged to him because it came in thanks to a throwing error. An error by Vizcaino… to top it off he gets the W because Nick Markakis broke the tie in the 10th with his own hit and Jason Grilli saved the game.
He’s now 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA.
This is why traditional stats suck. They make no sense!