BOS bullpen 2018

joe dokes

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Aren't walk rate more predictable than hit rates? They are definitely more in the pitchers control. Has Joe Kelly been giving up fewer hits because of talent or luck?
That's beyond me. But what does predictable mean for Wright? Going forward for the rest of the season or reversion to his career rate?
Beyond that, I recall a BaseballProspectus analysis that knuckleballers defy the conventional metrics in several ways (BABIP the only one I can remember).
 

gedman211

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Yesterday was the first time he had a clean inning. He walks too many guys and we know about the knuckleball and WP/PBs. He's going to be a factor, but Cora really needs to figure out how best to use him. And God forbid it's wet or humid or cold or windy. Knuckleball pitchers are complicated.
Wright starts the 7th and/or 8th innings tied or with a lead. Period. He's the best setup guy we have. Brasier isn't far behind, and Barnes could still prove himself. But Wright is weak contact/popout machine.
 

oumbi

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Yesterday was the first time he had a clean inning. He walks too many guys and we know about the knuckleball and WP/PBs. He's going to be a factor, but Cora really needs to figure out how best to use him. And God forbid it's wet or humid or cold or windy. Knuckleball pitchers are complicated.
I am not debating or trying to alter your preference, but clarifying a point you make above. While wp/pb are a concern for knuckleball pitchers, this year over 50 innings, Wright has 0 wild pitches. Kimbrel has had 6 wild pitches in 60 innings.

So, to me at least, the narrative of wild pitches for Wright is not a concern. Though yes, he does walk more people than we like, but his WHIP is 1.24 this season.

Barnes WHIP is 1.2
Rodriguez WHIP is 1.285
Porcello WHIP is 1.16
MLB average WHIP in 2018 is 1.303

So Wright, for me, seems to fit in quite well in the bull pen, or even as a starter.
 

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I am not debating or trying to alter your preference, but clarifying a point you make above. While wp/pb are a concern for knuckleball pitchers, this year over 50 innings, Wright has 0 wild pitches. Kimbrel has had 6 wild pitches in 60 innings.

So, to me at least, the narrative of wild pitches for Wright is not a concern. Though yes, he does walk more people than we like, but his WHIP is 1.24 this season.

Barnes WHIP is 1.2
Rodriguez WHIP is 1.285
Porcello WHIP is 1.16
MLB average WHIP in 2018 is 1.303

So Wright, for me, seems to fit in quite well in the bull pen, or even as a starter.
When a knuckleballer throws a wild pitch, it's almost always called a passed ball.
 

joe dokes

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Well, prior to this year Wright had wild pitches assigned to him. Do we have any data or studies or some such thing to help support the contention in your post?
I think that accounts for the "almost always" in BMHHs post.

Anecdotally, it seems that most knuckleballs that elude the catcher hit his glove on the fly. Misses like that -- as opposed to balls in the dirt -- seem to get called as PBs.
 

lapa

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There’s a lot of work going into personality types in the workplace these days. It’s hard with small sample sizes and fuzzy concepts to quantify but it would be truly remarkable indeed if MLB was the only employment on planet earth where people’s personality was totally irrelevant. It seems to me that Hembree is in the group of people who ‘shrink’ when the shit hits the fan, that seemed the case even at the start of the season just looking at his body language.
 

joe dokes

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There’s a lot of work going into personality types in the workplace these days. It’s hard with small sample sizes and fuzzy concepts to quantify but it would be truly remarkable indeed if MLB was the only employment on planet earth where people’s personality was totally irrelevant. It seems to me that Hembree is in the group of people who ‘shrink’ when the shit hits the fan, that seemed the case even at the start of the season just looking at his body language.
The "early season" part of your armchair psychoanalysis doesn't quite square with his half a season run of baserunner-strander extraordinaire.

The reality about Hembree is that he's been an ok relief pitcher for a couple of years. Just ok. Which means he'll be good more often than not, but not often enough to be anything more than ok.

That aside, he's been bad in the last month. His body language is that of a pitcher who can't get people out. Which probably sucks for him.

The fact that he was successful most of the year despite the body language you speak of suggests that you're barking up the wrong tree.
 

sean1562

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are we going to give it to him? Kimbrel definitely seems like the kind of guy you thank for their time here and walk away from come free agency. I would be pretty hesitant giving anything to Sale long term as well.
 

lapa

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The "early season" part of your armchair psychoanalysis doesn't quite square with his half a season run of baserunner-strander extraordinaire.

The reality about Hembree is that he's been an ok relief pitcher for a couple of years. Just ok. Which means he'll be good more often than not, but not often enough to be anything more than ok.

That aside, he's been bad in the last month. His body language is that of a pitcher who can't get people out. Which probably sucks for him.

The fact that he was successful most of the year despite the body language you speak of suggests that you're barking up the wrong tree.
I’m not sure I follow
The armchair analysis was just an open question as to what body language and mental makeup might indicate different capacities to handle pressure in playoff type situations. How he does in the regular season COMPARED to when the heat starts to be felt
 

Clears Cleaver

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So, Craig Kimbrel's ERA just ballooned from 2.21 to 2.79.

I wonder how many $millions he just cost him on his next contract.
His postseason performance will have a lot greater impact on the next contract. And it seems that most closers who pitch deep into a postseason do not perform well the next season.

Best case scenario is Sox and kimbrel pitch well and they don’t sign him.
 

judyb

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I’m not sure I follow
The armchair analysis was just an open question as to what body language and mental makeup might indicate different capacities to handle pressure in playoff type situations. How he does in the regular season COMPARED to when the heat starts to be felt
I think the point is, if that's what his problem is, wouldn't you think he'd feel heat when they bring him into a regular season game with runners on base and no outs, too?
 

joe dokes

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I think the point is, if that's what his problem is, wouldn't you think he'd feel heat when they bring him into a regular season game with runners on base and no outs, too?
There's a larger point, too. Any sort of judgment based on "body language" and "mental makeup" when all you do is see a guy on tv for 20 minutes at a time a few times a week is a nearly worthless judgment.
 

charlieoscar

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Through game 160 the Red Sox have averaged using 3.26 relievers per game; however, that number has changed as the year has gone on:

Games 1-89---2.43; games 90--160---3.80
Games 1-114--2.97; games 115-160--3.98
Games 1-139--3.09; games 140-160--4.38
Games 1-149--3.17; games 150-160--4.55
 

JimD

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Through game 160 the Red Sox have averaged using 3.26 relievers per game; however, that number has changed as the year has gone on:

Games 1-89---2.43; games 90--160---3.80
Games 1-114--2.97; games 115-160--3.98
Games 1-139--3.09; games 140-160--4.38
Games 1-149--3.17; games 150-160--4.55
Not surprising, as games 137-162 coincide with both September callups (larger bullpen - gotta get those young guys work) and this year a healthy divisional lead (opportunities for in-game tryouts for the postseason).
 

judyb

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Plus the Sale situation, they couldn't use his replacement starters while he was on the DL for more than a few innings because they weren't stretched out or pitching well enough to want to leave in the game longer, and he had to do his short rehab starts in the majors because the minor league season had ended.
 

charlieoscar

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It started before September call-ups and there were other starters than Sale involved. For example: Porcello in games 3 to 111 had an ERA of 3.84 but in games 116-155 it was 5.73; Rodriguez had an ERA of 3.44 in games 9-97 and 4.91 in games 137-159; Eovaldi had an ERA of 3.38 in games 545-112 and 4.86 in games 117-157. Yes, they had problems with injuries to their normal starting staff and had to fill in, which led to shorter appearances by starters but if you look at some of their relievers, you find that there were a number of games when a large number of relievers were used because some of them weren't doing the job.
 
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Talk about rewriting the narrative. The bullpen, which was widely thought to be the team's Achilles heal coming into the playoffs, only let up a lead once the entire postseason; and that was Eovaldi during his masterpiece. Kimbrel remained terrifying, but rest of the pen (and the occasional starter) stepped up.
 

tims4wins

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Kind of amazing that, in 14 postseason games, 11 wins, Kimbrel never came in to protect a 1 run lead. He had the 2 run lead in game 1 of the ALDS. The rest of the pen (especially Kelly and Evo) deserve a ton of credit, as does the offense for doing what they did all season long - blow games open late. That was the signature of this team: confident, relentless, never lost faith, and put teams away late against opposing pens. All year long.
 

uk_sox_fan

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I said it in another thread, but for me the enduring image of this WS was seeing Sale, Eovaldi and Kimbrel all warming to come in for the 9th whilst Kelly was striking out the side in the 8th. With Barnes and Brasier also rested and available I can't think of a more thorough repudiation of the bullpen Achilles heel meme than that.
 

Lowrielicious

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I said it in another thread, but for me the enduring image of this WS was seeing Sale, Eovaldi and Kimbrel all warming to come in for the 9th whilst Kelly was striking out the side in the 8th. With Barnes and Brasier also rested and available I can't think of a more thorough repudiation of the bullpen Achilles heel meme than that.
I’ve always loved the term “fistfights at the bat rack” to describe a team teeing off on a pitcher(s) and hitters can’t wait to get out there.
That 8th inning bullpen situation was the pitching equivalent.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I said it in another thread, but for me the enduring image of this WS was seeing Sale, Eovaldi and Kimbrel all warming to come in for the 9th whilst Kelly was striking out the side in the 8th. With Barnes and Brasier also rested and available I can't think of a more thorough repudiation of the bullpen Achilles heel meme than that.
It was more than just a meme though. I think to not recognize that the bullpen was a legitimate weakness at some points is almost to disregard what an amazing job these guys did to shore it up.

While everyone was talking about what Craig Counsel and Joe Madden were doing with their openers and stuff, Cora was playing chess with how he used starters. We’ve seen starters move to the pen before or conscripted to emergency duty for desperate teams, but what Cora was doing — using bullpen days and timing his starters for certain spots in the opponents’ lineups — was unprecedented to me. Also, the way he lined up his starting pitching to cover for the fact that we didn’t have a lefty in the bullpen other than EdRo was masterful.

We won a World Series with the best bullpen stats of any playoff team with no ability to matchup because we had no lefty. Think about that for a minute. That’s a testament to managing.

But the real credit has to go to Tilt and Kelly. In the middle of August there was simply no basis to expect Joe Fucking Kelly would turn into righty Andrew Miller in the playoffs. But he did. He allowed Cora to use an extremely narrow bullpen tree as the bridge to Kimbrel. It was Brasier, Barnes, Kelly, and the “rover” de jour. That’s it.

The bullpen got better. And Workman should never buy a beer in Boston for the rest of his life for the way he repeatedly ate up huge innings while we were fighting off the Yankees and kept pitches off of Kelly, Barnes, Hembree and Kimbrel.

But what this was to me was a triumph of managing.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Ok, there's going to be some amazing stats at the end so hang with this one.

Since so many starters pitched, I'm not sure I've seen anything that broke down pitchers in the postseason by relief appearance. Here are the final numbers for pitchers out of the bullpen, for the 14 games.

Kelly 11.1 IP, 1 ER
Kimbrel 10.2 IP, 7 ER
Eovaldi 9.1 IP, 1 ER
Brasier 8.2 IP, 1 ER
Barnes 8.2 IP, 1 ER
Hembree 4.2 IP, 0 ER
EdRo 4.1 IP, 3 ER
Sale 2.0 IP, 0 ER
Porcello 1.2 IP, 0 ER
Workman 1.0 IP, 5 ER
Price .2 IP, 0 ER

So, a bullpen ERA of 2.71 skewed pretty heavily by the one bad ninth inning by Workman in the Houston loss.

Kimbrel's numbers are fascinating. 7 ER in 9 appearances is not good but you sort of have to view it all in context. Kimbrel closed the game in 8 of his 9 appearances. Although he gave up his 7 runs in these 8 games he never gave up the lead. (Obviously defense helped.) So, he may have given up runs but he never failed to get his outs before the other team was able to tie. In the one game he did not finish the game, he did not give up any runs.

So here's where it gets interesting. Not one Red Sox reliever who was pitching with a lead gave up that lead at any time, except for the one unearned run given up by Eovaldi in the marathon game in Dodger Stadium. Think about that for a second. These were the highest leverage innings that one can envision and not one reliever gave up a lead, except that one lone unearned run.

Need a more amazing demonstration of this stat -- Red Sox relievers came into the game in 23 save eligible situations in the postseason. They converted every single one of them. You want more? Every single pitcher on the team who pitched -- not just traditional relievers but anyone who pitched this postseason -- had a hold or a save except for Hembree and Price.

Kimbrel 6-6 on saves
Brasier 5-5 on holds
Barnes 3-3 on holds
Kelly 2-2 on holds
Eovaldi 2-2 on holds
Porcello 2-2 on holds
Sale 1-1 on holds
EdRo 1-1 on holds
Workman 1-1 on holds
 

The Raccoon

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Not one Red Sox reliever who was pitching with a lead gave up that lead at any time, except for the one unearned run given up by Eovaldi in the marathon game in Dodger Stadium.
I posted this in the Playoff moments thread as a question, since I wasn't sure about it and it seemed too crazy to be true (and I was too lazy to check all 14 box scores).
Going into the post season, relief pitching was the biggest weakness according to everyone (including myself). The guys stepped up, Cora did some magic and it turned out to be (one of) their biggest strengths.
 
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BornToRun

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Aside from David Price mowing pricks down, the bullpen’s excellence was my favorite part of this postseason.

Brasier shaking off the nerves after a hiccup in his first postseason game, “Get in the fucking box”, and getting 5 outs in a close game on the road in ALCS Game 4.

Barnes pitching out of a big jam in Game 1 in the ALDS and dropping a disgusting hook on Tyler White in Game 4 of the ALCS to preserve a lead. An under appreciated moment, in my opinion, was his outing in G4 against the MFY. The Yankees had just gotten to Porcello for a run in the 5th and made him really work to get out of the inning. Barnes takes over in the 6th and sets Judge, Didi, and Stanton down in order in a big spot where the MFY were in position to get something going with their best hitters up in a close game.

Joe Kelly firing strikes all October long culminating in a World Series where he struck out 10 over 6 scoreless innings. Dude didn’t issue a single goddamn walk all postseason. He couldn’t have possibly sacked up any more than he did.

And of course, the starters moonlighting as set-up men. Sale, Rick, and Evo all were given high leverage innings during our run and they all plowed through the opposition with ruthless efficiency.

Hats off to the bullpen, no way this title happens without them.
 
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JimD

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I hope that we will hear more about the planning that led to such a successful execution of the bullpen rover concept. It sounds simple - starting pitchers throw on the side between starts, so why not have them do so in a game situation - but I suspect that there was a lot more to it, especially given that having predictable routines is a key component of the job of a starting pitcher.

By comparison, Buster Olney noted on his podcast yesterday that he asked the Dodgers staff prior to game 5 if Walker Buehler might be available to pitch an inning and they completely ruled it out. It sounded as if they were being very protective of their young pitcher (which is not unwarranted), but it may also speak to the prep work that Cora and Le Vangie probably were doing during the latter part of the regular season to get ready for the playoffs - I doubt they just sprung this idea on the starters this month.
 

lexrageorge

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I hope that we will hear more about the planning that led to such a successful execution of the bullpen rover concept. It sounds simple - starting pitchers throw on the side between starts, so why not have them do so in a game situation - but I suspect that there was a lot more to it, especially given that having predictable routines is a key component of the job of a starting pitcher.

By comparison, Buster Olney noted on his podcast yesterday that he asked the Dodgers staff prior to game 5 if Walker Buehler might be available to pitch an inning and they completely ruled it out. It sounded as if they were being very protective of their young pitcher (which is not unwarranted), but it may also speak to the prep work that Cora and Le Vangie probably were doing during the latter part of the regular season to get ready for the playoffs - I doubt they just sprung this idea on the starters this month.
Also, during the regular season, the Sox made managing the workloads of their starting pitchers a high priority, especially Sale's workload early on. There is a substantial difference between throwing a number of pitches in a bullpen side session and throwing pitches in anger against Machado and Turner and Judge and Bregman. So it seems unlikely that the rover concept would be sustainable over the course of the regular season.
 

joe dokes

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Aside from David Price mowing pricks down, the bullpen’s excellence was my favorite part of this postseason.

Brasier shaking off the nerves after a hiccup in his first postseason game, “Get in the fucking box”, and getting 5 outs in a close game on the road in ALCS Game 4.

Barnes pitching out of a big jam in Game 1 in the ALDS and dropping a disgusting hook on Tyler White in Game 4 of the ALCS to preserve a lead. An under appreciated moment, in my opinion, was his outing in G4 against the MFY. The Yankees had just gotten to Porcello for a run in the 5th and made him really work to get out of the inning. Barnes takes over in the 6th and sets Judge, Didi, and Stanton down in order in a big spot where the MFY were in position to get something going with their best hitters up in a close game.

Joe Kelly firing strikes all October long culminating in a World Series where he struck out 10 over 6 scoreless innings. Dude didn’t issue a single goddamn walk all postseason. He couldn’t have possibly sacked up any more than he did.

And of course, the starters moonlighting as set-up men. Sale, Rick, and Evo all were given high leverage innings during our run and they all plowed through the opposition with ruthless efficiency.

Hats off to the bullpen, no way this title happens without them.
During the season, while every reliever had ups and downs, I don't recall too many stretches when they were *all* down. And while they were only all "up" for the first 6 weeks of the season or so, every one of them had really good stretches. I had expected that Cora would have to assess who was in an "up" stretch and lean on them. It turned out that, much like April and early May, they were all up.

I think what Cora did was a little different than "playoff Tito." Tito found a guy (Foulke, Miller) and leaned on him until they either did (Miller) or didn't (Foulke) crash. (Although both crashed afterwards). Cora found ways to use multiple guys.
 

Gash Prex

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I think one of the other important points is that almost no starter (rover or otherwise) was throwing anywhere near their full workload, ie 100-110 pitches in any of their playoff starts. It seems to me the decreased starting pitcher workload was re-deployed in 8th inning in other games, which is a great short term strategy, but certainly not a season strategy.
 

DeadlySplitter

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By comparison, Buster Olney noted on his podcast yesterday that he asked the Dodgers staff prior to game 5 if Walker Buehler might be available to pitch an inning and they completely ruled it out. It sounded as if they were being very protective of their young pitcher (which is not unwarranted), but it may also speak to the prep work that Cora and Le Vangie probably were doing during the latter part of the regular season to get ready for the playoffs - I doubt they just sprung this idea on the starters this month.
Buehler is a rookie who went 30-40 IP more than they wanted him to this season. At some point the long-term outlook for him and his arm has to come into play even in the World Series - and as it turned out, the Dodgers barely got any hits in game 5 so it would have been a huge negative if he came in.

Now Ryu for some reason, he takes a long time to warm up and he can't relieve. Maybe they tried and he isn't amenable to it. but that's the guy they could have really used.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I posted this in the Playoff moments thread as a question, since I wasn't sure about it and it seemed too crazy to be true (and I was too lazy to check all 14 box scores).
Going into the post season, relief pitching was the biggest weakness according to everyone (including myself). The guys stepped up, Cora did some magic and it turned out to be (one of) their biggest strengths.
Edit -- turns out I was off. Barnes did give up the tying run in the fifth inning of game 1 of the World Series but the Sox got two right back in the bottom of the inning.