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Bullpen 2017

Discussion in 'Red Sox Forum' started by nvalvo, Feb 27, 2017.

  1. nvalvo

    nvalvo Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    I would also hate that, even if Abad's better than he's shown us, but it doesn't look like they'll need to.

    The 'pen will probably be:

    Kimbrel CL
    Thornburg RH SU (but with a reverse split! good against righties, great against lefties)
    Kelly RH SU 1 option
    Ross Jr. LH SU 1 option
    Barnes RH MR 2 options
    Abad LH MR
    Hembree RH MR 0 options

    That leaves Carson Smith on the DL, and Eduardo Rodriguez, as the SP with (2) options remaining, rebuilding his strength and watching his innings count in managed outings in AAA. Some people might find that exasperating, and I may be one of them, but I've watched enough baseball to know how teams behave.

    That gives us six SP in Pawtucket: Rodriguez, Elias, Kendrick, Owens, Velazquez and Johnson. All of those guys should be viable for at least a spot start, which is really pretty impressive depth-wise.

    And a Pawtucket bullpen:

    Noe Ramirez RH 1 option
    Brandon Workman RH 2 options
    Williams Jerez LH 2 options
    Robby Scott LH 3 options
    Kyle Martin RH 3 options
    Luis Ysla LH 3 options
  2. Sprowl

    Sprowl Mikey Lowell of the Sandbox Dope

    Split from the 2/26 game thread...


    The Red Sox bullpen without Uehara and Tazawa won't be quite the same, but it might be better. Get well quick, Carson Smith.
  3. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

    I just don't see it. He's healthy and he's starting on Thursday. IF they were futzing around with building him back up slowly, he'd probably still be long tossing. The latter point really doesn't have anything to do with how the Red Sox will do things. I could see Theo/Cherington style hoarding of resources if they were still here, but DD strikes me as more of the type of guy who encourages the best 25 guys making the team. If there were recent evidence of him stashing a guy as effective as Rodriguez , then I could be swayed the other way, but I don't recall it happening yet.

    I think it's more likely one of those fringey bullpen guys gets moved, and/or one of the back end starters starts in the pen.
    If Abad or Hembree craps the bed in spring training, I just don't see them as someone they make room for. Robbie Scott seemed to do ok in his trial, and maybe Walden shows enough to replace Hembree as depth. Those are the AAA guys who replace those guys fungibility
    #3 grimshaw, Feb 27, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  4. nvalvo

    nvalvo Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    (Thanks for main-boarding this, Sprowl. Good call.)

    Grimshaw makes some good points; my sense of probability may be colored by watching Theo/Cherington FOs for more than a decade. Dombrowski might keep six SP on the 25 man roster, with one as a swing man in the pen.

    In that case, one of Hembree or Abad gets traded. We'll see.

    I think Farrell likes Hembree for his ability to throw longish stints. He had 19 outings of more than three outs, 8 of which were over 2, and four of which were over three. That seems useful. I think Abad's on the bottom of the depth chart, just because we don't really need a LOOGY given Thornburg and Ross.
  5. phenweigh

    phenweigh Member SoSH Member

    Agree that being able to throw longish stints is useful, but even without Heath it seems to be that Sox will have that ability with multiple guys already.

    Matt Barnes had 18 outing greater than 3 outs last season.
    Joe Kelly, as a converted starter will have that ability.
    Whoever of the six starters that is left out of the rotation will have that ability.
    Robbie Ross had 15 outing greater than 3 outs last season.
  6. Idabomb333

    Idabomb333 Member SoSH Member

    Just to nitpick here, that's betting all 13 of the potential MLB pitchers named are healthy through Spring training. How often does that happen?

    Of course trading those guys might be a good plan even with an injury to someone, but I don't accept your premise.
  7. HangingW/ScottCooper

    HangingW/ScottCooper Member SoSH Member

    I've been vocal in saying I don't think this bullpen is a championship bullpen. Having said that, relievers typically become available during the season so it's not the worst problem to have.

    I could see a scenario emerge where Kelly and/or Barnes wind up being statistically the best arms in the pen. There's clearly potential here, but I'm far from convinced this won't be a pain point this season.
  8. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

    If you think Kelly and Barnes - probably 4th and 5th on the depth chart when Smith returns could possibly end up being statistically the best which is curious - where you think they could improve? They upgraded from Taz to Thornburg. They have the new and improved Joe Kelly.

    I could maybe buy one or both of Kelly regressing and Carson Smith not being able to stay on the mound which is a definite possibility but then you have Wright (not pictured above) and Ross who has been solid. And worst case scenario, you still have Hembree and Robbie Scott and possibly even Workman.

    Even with a few down years - you have to take other team injuries into account as well, and I'm not sure many can match the Sox' depth.

    Can you name 5 bullpens projected as better in the AL alone?
    #8 grimshaw, Feb 28, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
  9. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

    What is a championship bullpen, exactly, and how often does a championship team actually have one? Here's how the last 10 champions ranked in reliever FIP– among the 30 MLB teams:

    2016 Cubs: 94, 17th
    2015 Royals: 89, 5th
    2014 Giants: 98, 18th
    2013 Red Sox: 93, 14th
    2012 Giants: 99, 22nd
    2011 Cardinals: 103, 25th
    2010 Giants: 89, 4th
    2009 Yankees: 94, 11th
    2008 Phillies: 87, 3rd
    2007 Red Sox: 93, 10th

    The mean FIP– for that group is 93.9. The MLB average for relievers over that period is 96.5. The median MLB rank for champions' bullpens is 12.5. In short, a typical WS winner's bullpen for the past ten years has been a little better than average.

    So I think the idea of a "championship bullpen" is a bit of a mythical beast--as is the idea of a championship rotation, or lineup, or defense. There are only championship teams, and lots of different ways to build them.
  10. shaggydog2000

    shaggydog2000 Member SoSH Member

    Fangraphs have them 12th in the MLB in WAR behind the Yankees, Indians, Mariners, and Orioles for AL teams. But they predict them 6th in both ERA and FIP, both times behind the Indians and Mariners for AL teams. I was surprised by the Mariners being in there, just because you never hear anything at all about the Mariners any more, but the other teams all make sense, mostly based off the value of their closers, which is where the big WAR numbers come from.
  11. Minneapolis Millers

    Minneapolis Millers Member SoSH Member

    Bullpens are so variable over the course of a season. I don't think season-long measurements like WAR or even FIP tell you much. The Sox in 2013 shuffled guys around quite a bit, especially in the 9th inning, until the Koji Revelation settled everything down. Heading into the playoffs, none of us were particularly worried about that bullpen. The Cubs' pen last year changed significantly when they doled out the prospects to get Chapman. Etc.

    Our pen this year is set up well for success, with quality and depth and Smith as a planned mid-season reinforcement. If it ends up short, but the rest of the team is chugging along mid-year, DD will find help. (After all, that's why we passed on Encarnacion, right?!)
  12. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

    The two which I think have distinct advantages are the Indians and Yankees - but the lower WAR is due to not having Carson Smith for much of the year and also doesn't factor in Steven Wright or Drew Pomeranz spending much if any time there. Wright is projected for 96 innings all as a starter, and Pomeranz is only projected as 10 relief innings. I don't think either of those scenarios are likely.

    A hidden benefit will also be how many innings they will get from their starters. I would think that could help preserve effectiveness since it will be less of a burden on the top guys.

    Personnel wise,I think they are - when healthy better than the non-Yankee Indian teams but usage is obviously hard to quantify. One of two all star starters will be in the pen along with Kimbrel and two lights out set up guys come June - knock on wood.

    Regardless - if they're 5th or 6th at worst - it certainly isn't an area of weakness.
    #12 grimshaw, Feb 28, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
  13. shaggydog2000

    shaggydog2000 Member SoSH Member

    The WAR numbers are almost all dependent on the closer and one or two setup guys. The rest are pretty much noise. In fact the WAR itself is pretty low compared to a single top starting pitcher or position player. I don't expect one of the starters used in middle relief to have a significant impact on the WAR. That's why I included the ERA and FIP numbers, WAR just isn't a great way to look at relievers under most circumstances. These are also projections, and of course there is high variance in the actual outcomes, just accounting for sample size when you look at relievers. I would bound them to be anywhere from average to a top 2 bullpen in the AL. But I would expect them to be a good top 5 bullpen. It would take a lot for them to completely fall apart and be below average.
  14. nvalvo

    nvalvo Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    There are also tons of rebuilding teams stockpiling pen arms with an eye to the in-season trade market. I'm thinking of the Padres, who look like a 100 loss team with several 10+ K/9 RP. So there should be availability.

    You seem very confident that Rodriguez will be in the rotation, but everything I'm seeing in the Spring Training coverage suggests you may be surprised, at least to start. E.g. Neverett and Bradford on WEEI described Wright and Pomeranz as having "the inside track" on the 4/5 spots during the broadcast yesterday.
  15. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

    Hadn't heard that part. I don't have a horse in the 4th/5th starter race, but that's another nice weapon to have if he starts in the pen.
  16. Minneapolis Millers

    Minneapolis Millers Member SoSH Member

    As the guy with options, there's little chance they stick Edro in the pen. If Wright and Pom look healthy, and either they outpitch Rodriguez or the team decides it doesn't want to lose other BP arms, he'll go to AAA and keep starting. I'd rather he start in the rotation with one of Wright/Pom going to the pen, but we'll have to see how it plays out. There's a decent chance not all 3 will be ready to go when the season starts...
  17. HangingW/ScottCooper

    HangingW/ScottCooper Member SoSH Member

    The line, "when Smith returns" sticks out here. When pitchers come back from injuries they are NEVER sure things. The comment on Kelly and/or Barnes emerging very well may be wishful thinking on my part but it's rooted in some success towards the end of the year, both guys were better down the stretch (Small sample size caveat noted).

    To the question about 5 bullpens in the AL that are better, I can't come up with 5 that are better, or 5 that will definitively be worse. As others said below, bullpens by their nature are largely difficult to predict. Failed starters emerge as great relievers and typically that's unpredictable. Having said that, my concern with this team is still the bullpen. The depth elsewhere seems more substantial than in the pen.
  18. dynomite

    dynomite Member SoSH Member

    I don't really get this concern.

    The 2016 Sox had the 5th best bullpen ERA in the AL, despite uneven seasons from Barnes and Taz (both had ERAs over 4.00), injuries to Kimbrel, Koji, and Carson Smith, and an additional ~30 terrible innings from folks like Ramirez and Abad.

    Barring a large run of injuries this season, I find it hard to imagine the 2017 bullpen being much worse -- and I think there's a solid chance it could be better.
  19. uk_sox_fan

    uk_sox_fan lurker

    I'm a believer that the more reliably the starters go deep into games, the better a bullpen's potential to live up to its full potential. I was looking through Fangraphs articles to try to substantiate what is really a gut feeling of how the stats 'should be' but I didn't find anything that IMO adequately tested the proposition (i.e. something that compared a bullpen's expected performance before a season to its actual performance regressed by overall usage).

    What does stand out, however, is the fact that the Sox have 4 starters among the 11 in MLB who averaged 6.5 IP/start last year. Sale posted his 5th straight such season and his 7.08 IP/GS was 0.02 the MLB leader (Kershaw), whilst Porcello was 4th in MLB at 6.76 IP/GS (behind Cueto). Price was 9th at 6.57 IP/GS which the pessimists would say is his lowest mark in 7 years but the optimists would point out was his 7th straight season above the 6.50 threshold. There were some nobodies (guys named Kluber, Scherzer, Verlander and Bumgarner) between Porcello and Price in the rankings. And rounding out the MLB Top Ten was Steven Wright with 6.53 IP/GS in his 24 starts.

    Sale, Wright and Porcello were 1st (6), tied-3rd (4) and tied-5th (3) respectively in complete games as well (Cueto was 2nd and Bumgarner tied 3rd, with Kershaw, Kluber and Nova tied with Porcello for 5th). Boston + Sale had 15 complete games last year which was 3x as many as any other club save SF (10) had all year. In fact, only one other club (2014 Indians) had double-digit CGs (11) in the past 5 seasons (though 5 clubs led by Phi with 18 reached double-digits in 2011).

    I don't have the resources to see how much bullpen performance improves over an expected baseline, but I did a quick set of regressions to see how a team's staters IP/GS relates to its bullpen performance. Looking at the team-level data for the past 10 years (i.e. 300 teams in all) there is a significant correlation between IP/GS and at least the nominal measures of performance (I was using mlb.com's stats and so did not have advance metrics available).

    For each extra IP averaged by a club's starters (which ranged from a high of 6.57 IP/GS for the 2011 Phillies to a low of 4.72 IP/GS for the 2012 Rockies) the clubs' bullpen posted .013 lower OB%a (-3.28 t-stat), .030 lower SLG (-4.89 t-stat), 0.516 lower ERA (-4.14 t-stat) and 0.081 lower WHIP (-3.57 t-stat). What's interesting though is that neither K/9IP nor BB/9IP were statistically significant (though K/9IP, which averaged an increase of 0.34, was close with a t-stat of 1.85). Could this be because K-rate and BB-rate are more closely related to the reliever's innate ability and the other performance stats are improved by more because the pen is better rested? Not sure I can make that claim but it does point to an area of further study.

    The takeaway for the Sox? If Price comes back healthy and stems his decline in IP, if Wright provides solid innings-eating through most of the season, if Porcello proves last year wasn't an aberration and continues to be Mr Reliable all year long again and if Sale is Sale and Pomeranz and/or ERod do their part, this rotation is in position to surpass the 6.5 IP/GS threshold not just for individuals but for the rotation as a whole. Only the 2011 Phillies (6.57) and 2011 Rays(!) (6.53) have done this in the past 10 years and only they, the 2010 and 2012 Phillies and the 2011 Dodgers have been over 6 1/3. The dividend that would result is a bullpen that remains basically rested throughout the season and would allow plenty of options for usage patterns that could only help.

    The takeaway is that this rotation has the potential to give the Sox' Bullpen a significant boost if they can match
  20. OurF'ingCity

    OurF'ingCity lurker

    Whole lotta ifs in that paragraph - you're basically saying that if every starter performs at their most optimistic projection and don't get hurt that will help the bullpen a lot. I think that's indisputably true, but it seems to me one of the key facets of a good bullpen is the ability to take some of the slack off if the starters can't go deep in a game, are dealing with injuries, etc.

    That said, I agree with dynomite and others that there doesn't seem to be any clear reason why this year's bullpen should be any worse than last year's barring injuries.
  21. Rasputin

    Rasputin Will outlive SeanBerry Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Those aren't the most optimistic projections for those guys. They're in the top half, sure, but it's not like Price pitching a little better than he did last year is remarkably optimistic, nor is it remarkably optimistic for Porcello to pitch like he did last year or for Eduardo Rodriguez to establish himself as a pretty good full-time starter,

    All the things mentioned are perfectly reasonable projections that don't require absurd optimism. It's pretty likely that at least one of them will happen. It's less likely that they'll all happen, of course, but that's just math.
  22. uk_sox_fan

    uk_sox_fan lurker

    Agreed - my 'ifs' were all caveats against misfortune happening rather than hopes and dreams. I'm basically saying that if Price and Sale don't get hurt and if Wright and Porcello were for real. Wright may or may not have the success he had last year before he got hurt but even if he regresses a little, he should still be an innings-eater- which is what this post was about.

    Porcello also topped 6.5 IP/GS in 2014 so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to think he could do it for the 3rd time in 4 years this season.

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