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September 28, 2005

Bullpen Blues
by SG

Mike Mussina failed the Yankees yesterday, and the bullpen could not pick him up. The offense scored 9 runs, and lost. The performance of the bullpen this year has been atrocious. Some numbers for the statistically inclined, from Baseball Prospecus:


Mariano Rivera 69 76.3 2.996 3.353 4.596 4.925 22.8 29.5
Tom Gordon 76 78 1.55 1.837 2.827 3.067 17.4 9.9
Buddy Groom 24 25.7 0.339 0.34 0.373 0.373 -0.4 0.5
Shawn Chacon 1 1 0.128 0.143 0.153 0.165 0.5 0.6
Chien-Ming Wang 1 4.7 0.06 0.071 0.084 0.091 0.6 0.7
Colter Bean 1 2 0.001 0.001 0.002 0.002 0 0.1
Steve Karsay 6 6 -0.054 -0.052 -0.037 -0.036 -1.6 0.4
Jorge DePaula 3 6.7 -0.053 -0.053 -0.038 -0.038 -2.4 -1.2
Darrell May 1 2.7 -0.107 -0.087 -0.08 -0.067 -4.3 -6.5
Ramiro Mendoza 1 1 -0.096 -0.096 -0.085 -0.085 -1.6 -1.5
Felix Rodriguez 32 30.3 -0.122 -0.099 -0.017 0.005 -0.5 -5.4
Alex Graman 2 1.3 -0.118 -0.117 -0.095 -0.095 -1.3 -2.6
Tanyon Sturtze 62 73.7 -0.265 -0.123 0.559 0.682 1.9 11.3
Paul Quantrill 22 32 -0.154 -0.132 -0.061 -0.047 -6.9 -5.9
Jason Anderson 3 5.7 -0.225 -0.218 -0.186 -0.18 -1.8 0.5
Aaron Small 6 16.3 -0.218 -0.225 -0.13 -0.13 4.5 1.4
Al Leiter 4 12.7 -0.384 -0.372 -0.32 -0.311 -3.9 -4.7
Mike Stanton 28 14 -0.556 -0.397 -0.415 -0.294 -3.3 -1.7
Alan Embree 23 14 -0.588 -0.593 -0.5 -0.508 -6.5 -6.7
Scott Proctor 25 36.7 -0.696 -0.668 -0.457 -0.436 -6.3 -2
Wayne Franklin 12 12 -0.881 -0.755 -0.763 -0.636 -3.3 -0.4
Totals 402 452.8 0.557 1.758 5.41 6.447 3.6 16.3

The probability of winning the current game, given some information about how many runs each team has scored to a certain point in the game, how many outs there are, whether there are runners on base, and the strength of each team. Keith Woolner outlined a method for computing Win Expectancy given all of these parameters in BP 2005.

Expected wins added over a replacement level pitcher. WXR uses win expectancy calculations to assess how relievers have changed the outcome of games, similar to WX. However, instead of comparing the pitcher's performance to an average pitcher, he is compared to a replacement level pitcher to determine WXR.

Expected wins added over a replacement level pitcher, adjusted for level of opposing hitters. WXRL combines the individual adjustments for replacement level (WXR) and quality of the opposing lineup (WXL) to the basic WX calculation.

Expected wins added over a replacement level pitcher, adjusted for level of opposing hitters. WXRL combines the individual adjustments for replacement level (WXR) and quality of the opposing lineup (WXL) to the basic WX calculation.

Adjusted Pitching Runs (a la Thorn & Palmer in "Total Baseball").

Adjusted Runs Prevented from scoring.

As a team, the Yankees WX is .557, their WXR is 1.758, their WXL is 5.41, and their WXRL is 6.447. Their APR is 3.6 and their ARP is 16.3 However, take out Mariano Rivera and Tom Gordon, and you get a totally different picture. Without those two, their WX is -3.989, their WXR is -3.432, their WXL is -2.013, and their WXRL is -1.545, their APR is -37 and their ARP is -23.

This is all a fancy way of saying that the Yankee bullpen outside of Gordon and Rivera has cost the Yankees anywhere from 2 to 4 wins this season. This was painfully apparent last night as Mike Mussina tanked in his biggest start of the year and the parade of relievers who followed him were unable to do their jobs.

Obviously, the biggest problem is that the pitchers are not performing, but is there something more to it?

I've called into question Joe Torre's usage of his bullpen many times here, and I think it is at least partially responsible for the lack of performance by the bullpen. There is a fine line between getting a reliever enough work and overworking them, and Torre does not seem to be a good judge of this. A case in point is Tanyon Sturtze. Sturtze has never been a great pitcher, but appeared to rejuventate himself with a new role as a reliever with an added cutter. Torre used Sturtze, who had never pitched in more than 46 games in a season in 24 of 50 games from May 5 through June 28. To that point, Sturtze had a 3.43 ERA, but was on pace to pitch 66 games, and 162 innings as a reliever. Since then, Sturze has put up a 5.86 ERA, as his usage has returned to a more reasonable pace, but likely too late to help the Yankees this year.

It's very possible that Sturtze has just regressed to his career ability, but we can't rule out that his usage has been a problem.

With the loss of an effective Sturtze, Torre has not adapted. Scott Proctor, Felix Rodriguez, Wayne Franklin, and Alan Embree have not produced. For some reason the Yankee braintrust is reticent to use Colter Bean, who has pitched 2 reasonably effective major league innings, something that most of the current bullpen HAS NOT DONE. I tend to think that more regular work for Proctor and Rodriguez may have helped them be more effective, but there's no question that neither is doing their job right now.

For those who think Torre is not at least part of the problem in building an effective bullpen, I present the following list of names:

Joe Borowski
Todd Williams
Jay Witasick
Carlos Almanzar
Al Reyes
Armando Benitez
Juan Padilla

All relievers who have had success away from Torre.

It was a frustrating loss, especially when all the other teams that are fighting for a playoff spot with the Yankees also lost, but at least they did not lose ground. Let's hope for 7 strong from Shawn Chacon today.