Building a Bullpen, 2019 edition

E5 Yaz

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That is a misleading point. Having a go to closer allows the manager to mix and match his pitchers and shuffle them around depending on the situation—ex. Right lefty etc. Also it puts less pressure on the pen because rolls become more defined and pitchers get more comfortable with their roll. Don’t undervalue that ball players are creatures of habit and will perform better in situation where they feel the most comfortable and confident.
Having a "go-to closer" is simply not the element now that it was even 3 years ago. Analytics driven decision makers now understand that putting relievers in the best position to succeed is more advantageous than having defined roles by inning.
Many times this can come in the ninth inning, but if the opponents best hitters are up in the eighth of a close game, managers (including Cora) will try to use the most effective match ... rather than having a "go to closer" face weaker batters in the ninth.

Joe Dokes and Red(s)Hawks are on point here.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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That is a misleading point. Having a go to closer allows the manager to mix and match his pitchers and shuffle them around depending on the situation—ex. Right lefty etc. Also it puts less pressure on the pen because rolls become more defined and pitchers get more comfortable with their roll. Don’t undervalue that ball players are creatures of habit and will perform better in situation where they feel the most comfortable and confident.
You're not a very good dancer.

Who are you saying would have been pitching those 7th and 8th innings where Brasier, Barnes , and Workman have blown saves, if Kimbrel was available for the 9th?
 

Benni

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Jun 14, 2019
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"Not closer" is not the same thing as "less leverage."

4 of Barnes 6 blown saves this year were in the 7th or 8th inning. When he probably would have been pitching anyway. Only 2 were in the 9th.

None of Workman's 4 were in the 9th. 1 was in the 7th, 3 were in the 8th, when he probably would have been pitching anyway.

Brasier has one BS in the 7th and 2 in the 9th.

So even if they had Kimbrel or some other "closer," Barnes and Workman -- as the two best not-closers -- would likely be pitching in the 7th and 8th innings.
A good closer is a key to a great team. It allows everyone to fall into rolls and get comfortable. In the Sox pen no one is comfortable. Not one pitcher knows when they will be pitching. 6,7,8,9th innings. It’s really maddening and has contributed greatly to the this disaster of a season. When you have a solid closer there is no need to worry about the 9th inning. Now you put your best relievers out in the other 6,7,8. Workman, Brasier,Barnes,and mix in the rest of the pen. Without the added pressure of pitching the ninth the whole staff will fall into more comfortable rolls and the team will win more games. You saw it last year and you have watched this year. We still lead the league in runs scored so its not the hitting that is the problem. What is the one biggest thing we are missing from this team that we weren’t last year?
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Roles. Not rolls.

When you can't spell, folks often wonder how much you know. That may not be the case here, though.

Who is Tampa's good closer, btw?

Oh, and a hint to your last question: look at the starters' innings compared to 2018
 

Sam Ray Not

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Red Sox ERA

2019: Starters 4.73 (#19 in MLB) / Bullpen 4.60 (#18)
2018: Starters 3.77 (#8) / Bullpen 3.72 (#9)

When you consider (1) starters pitch roughly 150% as many total innings as relievers, and (2) the taxing effect of poor starting pitching on a pen, it's pretty clear the bullpen this season, while vexing, has been significantly less than half the problem, pitching-wise.
 

jon abbey

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Oh. (pun intended) so they just DFA'd him from the 60-day IL? unusual.
He is on the 10 day IL (or was), he just had the surgery. I agree it's a little odd to dump him instead of putting him on the 60 day IL, but I don't really know much about it.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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That is a misleading point. Having a go to closer allows the manager to mix and match his pitchers and shuffle them around depending on the situation—ex. Right lefty etc. Also it puts less pressure on the pen because rolls become more defined and pitchers get more comfortable with their roll. Don’t undervalue that ball players are creatures of habit and will perform better in situation where they feel the most comfortable and confident.
But this is exactly what they're doing already, mixing and matching in the late innings. Barnes and Hembree and Workman have been used this year pretty much exact how they were used last year with Kimbrel at the back-end...pitching the 7th and 8th and occasionally the 6th inning. The only difference is that one of them occasionally has to cover the 9th inning too.

To illustrate...Barnes has made 44 appearances this year. This is the breakdown of what inning he's entered the game:
7th = 9 times
8th = 15 times
9th = 10 times
10th or later = 1 time

Last year, in his 62 total appearances, it broke down like this:
6th = 5 times
7th = 22 times
8th = 26 times
9th = 6 times
10th or later = 3 times

I'm not seeing a significant difference in his role without Kimbrel (or some other designated closer) in the pen.

How about Hembree?

2019 (38 appearances)
4th or earlier = 1
5th = 4
6th = 8
7th = 7
8th = 7
9th = 7
10th or later = 4

2018 (67 appearances)
4th or earlier = 4
5th = 4
6th = 19
7th = 19
8th = 9
9th = 8
10th or later = 4

Again, not noticing a significant difference in his usage.
 

chawson

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If Matt Harvey’s any more inclined to believe his rotation days are done, he’d probably be worth a shot as a late-inning guy if he can still live at 95 mph. Seems like a big personality though.
 

joe dokes

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A good closer is a key to a great team. It allows everyone to fall into rolls and get comfortable. In the Sox pen no one is comfortable. Not one pitcher knows when they will be pitching. 6,7,8,9th innings. It’s really maddening and has contributed greatly to the this disaster of a season. When you have a solid closer there is no need to worry about the 9th inning. Now you put your best relievers out in the other 6,7,8. Workman, Brasier,Barnes,and mix in the rest of the pen. Without the added pressure of pitching the ninth the whole staff will fall into more comfortable rolls and the team will win more games. You saw it last year and you have watched this year. We still lead the league in runs scored so its not the hitting that is the problem. What is the one biggest thing we are missing from this team that we weren’t last year?
Everything that you say that the manager would be able to do in those other innings if they had a "closer" he is already doing -- . "Now you put your best relievers out in the other 6,7,8. "

It sounds like you're saying that the mere absence of a "closer" for the 9th inning is causing the other relievers to pitch worse this season than they did last season in nearly the exact same scenarios -- the 6,7 and 8th innings.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
If Matt Harvey’s any more inclined to believe his rotation days are done, he’d probably be worth a shot as a late-inning guy if he can still live at 95 mph. Seems like a big personality though.
The big personality doesn't worry me as much as the big numbers he's allowing. It's been four years since he was a good pitcher, and he's showing no sign of being a good pitcher this year. Why would we want any part of him?
 

geoduck no quahog

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I think I was polluted by the Royals success in 2014. What I remember was the last 6 outs of any game being lights out, provided both Holland and Davis were available (never mind Herrera) and KC held a lead.

What that meant to me was that those guys were facing at least 6 of 9 hitters and that the odds of those being the “worst” 6 hitters were tiny.

Not bringing in one of those 2 into an earlier hi-lev situation (limited to 7th, 6th or in the extreme, 5th innings) was less consequential because KC itself had at least 6 more outs to score runs if the lead was coughed up by the 7th.

I understand that not every game is lost in the late innings, but a setup and closer that shuts down the opponent also means that some games are won in the late innings.

If you have a lights out closer, and a great setup man, both confined to traditional roles, success makes sense. Of course it all comes down to talent (duh). If they don’t pick someone up, I’m crossing my fingers that Eovaldi can successfully take over the 9th inning regardless of leverage.
 

chawson

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The big personality doesn't worry me as much as the big numbers he's allowing. It's been four years since he was a good pitcher, and he's showing no sign of being a good pitcher this year. Why would we want any part of him?
Because he hasn’t lost his velocity, he’s (damaged but) not old, and it’d be free to find out.

You’re right that he shouldn’t be anywhere near a rotation. If he accepts that and commits to relieving, where he might be able to still run it up to 98 or so (which he hit last year) and reclaim some spin, then it’s possible he could be effective. His slider and change still seem to get whiffs. You’re probably right that it’s not worth it, but stranger things have happened.
 
Jun 12, 2019
28
A good closer is a key to a great team. It allows everyone to fall into rolls and get comfortable. In the Sox pen no one is comfortable. Not one pitcher knows when they will be pitching. 6,7,8,9th innings. It’s really maddening and has contributed greatly to the this disaster of a season. When you have a solid closer there is no need to worry about the 9th inning. Now you put your best relievers out in the other 6,7,8. Workman, Brasier,Barnes,and mix in the rest of the pen. Without the added pressure of pitching the ninth the whole staff will fall into more comfortable rolls and the team will win more games. You saw it last year and you have watched this year. We still lead the league in runs scored so its not the hitting that is the problem. What is the one biggest thing we are missing from this team that we weren’t last year?
"This disaster of a season.....". I wasn't aware that a couple games out if a playoff spot in mid-July constituted a disaster. Spoiled much?
 

bosox79

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In other news, Tanner Houck is being tried as a reliever in Pawtucket. He has, according to FG, a couple of different flavors of mid-90s fastball and this slider. Could get interesting.
I think it's going to be a permanent move too. He's a 2 pitch pitcher. It could get him to the bigs pretty soon though.
 

chawson

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Well, he seems to have temporarily mislaid it, then.....

Joe Kelly’s fastball gained about 3-3.5 mph moving from the rotation too. I’m not saying he would, necessarily, but if Harvey were to add 3.5 mph to his even diminished 2019 heater (93.2 mph), it’d be the hardest fastball in our pen.

Maybe a better comp, Ian Kennedy was one of the worst starters in baseball the last two years, throwing a lot less hard than Harvey. He’s gained more than 2 mph moving to the pen and is having a great year.

All I’m saying is that he still has enough velocity as a starter to potentially have value as a reliever. I’d bet against it, but there’s virtually no downside to find out.
 

Benni

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Jun 14, 2019
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"This disaster of a season.....". I wasn't aware that a couple games out if a playoff spot in mid-July constituted a disaster. Spoiled much?
I am sure you have watched this team. For a team that blasted through the league last season they are a disaster. They should be at the very least battling the Yankees for the East or at least putting pressure on them. Right now the Sox will be lucky to even make the playoffs. IMO that’s a disaster for a team that is still leading the team in run scored but is out of the playoffs if the season ended today.
 

Benni

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Jun 14, 2019
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Joe Kelly’s fastball gained about 3-3.5 mph moving from the rotation too. I’m not saying he would, necessarily, but if Harvey were to add 3.5 mph to his even diminished 2019 heater (93.2 mph), it’d be the hardest fastball in our pen.

Maybe a better comp, Ian Kennedy was one of the worst starters in baseball the last two years, throwing a lot less hard than Harvey. He’s gained more than 2 mph moving to the pen and is having a great year.

All I’m saying is that he still has enough velocity as a starter to potentially have value as a reliever. I’d bet against it, but there’s virtually no downside to find out.
I would take a flyer on Harvey. He might have some upside and we need all the pitching we can get right now.
 

Benni

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Jun 14, 2019
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Everything that you say that the manager would be able to do in those other innings if they had a "closer" he is already doing -- . "Now you put your best relievers out in the other 6,7,8. "

It sounds like you're saying that the mere absence of a "closer" for the 9th inning is causing the other relievers to pitch worse this season than they did last season in nearly the exact same scenarios -- the 6,7 and 8th innings.
That is what I am saying. But it’s not the same scenario because they’re is no set closer. So one of the better relievers has to be a closer each night. That’s more stress and strain on the whole relief crew. You are missing your main stud to close games and putting it on 3 or 4 other pitchers shoulders who can’t handle it. We have seen this all year. I believe the Sox are or were leading the league in blown saves this year.
 

Bob Montgomery's Helmet Hat

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That is what I am saying. But it’s not the same scenario because they’re is no set closer. So one of the better relievers has to be a closer each night. That’s more stress and strain on the whole relief crew. You are missing your main stud to close games and putting it on 3 or 4 other pitchers shoulders who can’t handle it. We have seen this all year. I believe the Sox are or were leading the league in blown saves this year.
Do you realize that blown saves don't all happen in the 9th? And that the 9th isn't always the highest leverage inning?
 

Benni

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Jun 14, 2019
20
But this is exactly what they're doing already, mixing and matching in the late innings. Barnes and Hembree and Workman have been used this year pretty much exact how they were used last year with Kimbrel at the back-end...pitching the 7th and 8th and occasionally the 6th inning. The only difference is that one of them occasionally has to cover the 9th inning too.

To illustrate...Barnes has made 44 appearances this year. This is the breakdown of what inning he's entered the game:
7th = 9 times
8th = 15 times
9th = 10 times
10th or later = 1 time

Last year, in his 62 total appearances, it broke down like this:
6th = 5 times
7th = 22 times
8th = 26 times
9th = 6 times
10th or later = 3 times

I'm not seeing a significant difference in his role without Kimbrel (or some other designated closer) in the pen.

How about Hembree?

2019 (38 appearances)
4th or earlier = 1
5th = 4
6th = 8
7th = 7
8th = 7
9th = 7
10th or later = 4

2018 (67 appearances)
4th or earlier = 4
5th = 4
6th = 19
7th = 19
8th = 9
9th = 8
10th or later = 4

Again, not noticing a significant difference in his usage.
Great stat work. If you notice Hembree was the main 6,7 guy and Barnes was the 7,8 guy according to your stats. Those are defined roles and the pitchers pretty much know they are the man in those games we have a lead. The 9th in 21018 were most likely non save situations. So low pressure situation as opposed to closing a close game.
 

Benni

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Jun 14, 2019
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Do you realize that blown saves don't all happen in the 9th? And that the 9th isn't always the highest leverage inning?
Yes I do. But you eliminate the 9th as a high leverage situation for all your other relievers because you have a closer for that job. Now your other relievers can focus on their main inning and not worry about the pressure of closing. I think people here underrate how hard it is to be a lock down closer and how much pressure it takes off the rest of the relievers.
 

absintheofmalaise

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Yes I do. But you eliminate the 9th as a high leverage situation for all your other relievers because you have a closer for that job. Now your other relievers can focus on their main inning and not worry about the pressure of closing. I think people here underrate how hard it is to be a lock down closer and how much pressure it takes off the rest of the relievers.
How about you back up your opinion with some facts.
 

Benni

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Jun 14, 2019
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How about you back up your opinion with some facts.
Fact 1. 2018 the Sox had a good closer with a good mix of relievers and great hitting team. They win the World Series. Fact 2. 2019 the Sox have no closer and basically all the same relievers back and a great hitting team, they were leading the league in runs scored. Currently out of the playoffs.
 

absintheofmalaise

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Fact 1. 2018 the Sox had a good closer with a good mix of relievers and great hitting team. They win the World Series. Fact 2. 2019 the Sox have no closer and basically all the same relievers back and a great hitting team, they were leading the league in runs scored. Currently out of the playoffs.
You seem to have missed the point.
 

Plympton91

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I’m pretty sure
LOL, thanks. Just to be clear: "I'm not sure who Kimbral is" was a smartass way of saying "you misspelled the name of a guy who pitched for the Red Sox for three seasons, silly." But thanks for your concern for anyone here who might have read it differently. (Which, to be clear, is a smartass way of saying "you didn't really need to point that out," haha).


I mean even in that tiny, cherrypicked sample, 5 BB in 6 IP is problematic. And I provided his career numbers, which suggest that in terms of control his career year in 2017 was far more anomalous than last season.

Kimbrel BB/9 last five-plus seasons:

2014: 3.8
2015: 3.3
2016: 5.1
2017: 1.8
2018: 4.5 (6.5 playoffs)
2019: 7.3
Given that he’s still in spring training, I wouldn’t be freaking out quite yet about the trend, but that alarming walk rate in the playoffs is exactly why I was terrified of giving him a contract even if they had the money.

The guy to sign last winter was Britton.
 

jon abbey

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The guy to sign last winter was Britton.
You keep saying this but you are forgetting or ignoring that DD didn't want to give out multi-year deals in addition to needing to stay under the top tax line, because he was worried about the 2020 payroll also. Britton got 3/39, BOS clearly wasn't going there once they signed Eovaldi. David Robertson was the guy I thought they might go after, but he's been a big dud so far this year.
 

Plympton91

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Having a "go-to closer" is simply not the element now that it was even 3 years ago. Analytics driven decision makers now understand that putting relievers in the best position to succeed is more advantageous than having defined roles by inning.
Many times this can come in the ninth inning, but if the opponents best hitters are up in the eighth of a close game, managers (including Cora) will try to use the most effective match ... rather than having a "go to closer" face weaker batters in the ninth.

Joe Dokes and Red(s)Hawks are on point here.
So how come it’s not working?

Too many analytics driven decisions, not enough people who’ve pitched at an elite level involved in those decisions if you ask me.

What’s Eckersley and Pedro’s opinion of this strategy? I’d give them a lot more weight than that of what Tommy McStatsguy says to the career backup infielder managing the team his AAAA catcher masquerading as a pitching coach.
 

Plympton91

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You keep saying this but you are forgetting or ignoring that DD didn't want to give out multi-year deals in addition to needing to stay under the top tax line, because he was worried about the 2020 payroll also. Britton got 3/39, BOS clearly wasn't going there once they signed Eovaldi. David Robertson was the guy I thought they might go after, but he's been a big dud so far this year.
Yeah, Britton >>>> Eovaldi. IMHO.
 

absintheofmalaise

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So how come it’s not working?

Too many analytics driven decisions, not enough people who’ve pitched at an elite level involved in those decisions if you ask me.

What’s Eckersley and Pedro’s opinion of this strategy? I’d give them a lot more weight than that of what Tommy McStatsguy says to the career backup infielder managing the team his AAAA catcher masquerading as a pitching coach.
How do you feel about Brian Bannister?
 

Apisith

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Bullpens aren't easy. The Yankees' much vaunted 'pen has done this tonight:
Britton - give-up a 2-run HR and the lead
Chapman - walked the bases loaded, blew the save
Ottavino - walked the bases loaded
 

YTF

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Day 1 of the Eovaldi experiment is a failure. Where is Kimbral? Oh that’s right saving games in Chicago because of flawed thinking of management. Didn’t we already try this closer by committee years ago with Epstein and look he went and got a proven closer for hiis ball club. So people learn from their mistakes. I hope it works out with Eovaldi but I have my doubts.
I understand the long term commitment to Kimbrel but he was the difference in the bullpen because everyone else dropped back into lower leverage rolls which they seem to handle better. He has 8 appearance and 6 saves with the Cubs. I think his first outing was a disaster and has been reliable after that. I believe he is the difference in the Red Sox poor season. Not him personally but the Sox not having a closer to put everyone else in their lesser rolls where they belong.
Given the lack of rehab games, I'm expecting some rust. If you're going to compare Eovaldi to Kimbrel let's see how he looks with more than one game under his belt.
 
Last edited:

scottyno

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Fact 1. 2018 the Sox had a good closer with a good mix of relievers and great hitting team. They win the World Series. Fact 2. 2019 the Sox have no closer and basically all the same relievers back and a great hitting team, they were leading the league in runs scored. Currently out of the playoffs.
one year ago at this point I bet you didn't think the sox had a good mix of releivers
 

joe dokes

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Fact 1. 2018 the Sox had a good closer with a good mix of relievers and great hitting team. They win the World Series. Fact 2. 2019 the Sox have no closer and basically all the same relievers back and a great hitting team, they were leading the league in runs scored. Currently out of the playoffs.
Relievers, closers, hitters.......I wonder if there is another component to the team that might matter.......

Chris Sale:
July 23, 2018: 2.13 ERA
July 24, 2019: 4.05

Rick Porcello:
July 23, 2018: 3.93
July 24, 2019: 5.61

Hector Velazquez:
July 24, 2018: 2.61
July 24, 2019: 5.67

Brian Johnson:
July 24, 2018: 3.81
July 24, 2019: 6.43

You keep hypothesizing about how the absence of a real "closer" has somehow wrecked the bullpen, even though the guys who are supposedly crippled by not having a "closer" are pitching in roughly the same situations as last year and doing it well for the most part. But apparently, the mere knowledge that Kimbrel isn't there is causing them to crumble.
 

Harry Hooper

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McAdam raises an interesting question on Cora's use of Barnes last night:

This qualifies as hindsight of course, but it might have been better to utilize someone else in the seventh — with Tampa’s 8-9-1 hitters due — other than Matt Barnes. Barnes got the Rays in order, but then that left Brandon Workman with six outs to get and Workman needed help from Marcus Walden to get out of the ninth-inning mess. If Cora had gone with Walden for the bottom of the order in the seventh, Barnes in the eighth and saved Workman only for the final three outs, things might have gone smoother.

Maybe this was Cora trying to give Barnes an easier task on the second of back-to-back appearances?
 

Green Monster

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I assume that Workman is not available tonight and and perhaps not Barnes. If Price goes 6 innings.......how do they cover the last three innings?

Walden, Taylor, Brewer, Eovaldi
 

joe dokes

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McAdam raises an interesting question on Cora's use of Barnes last night:

Maybe this was Cora trying to give Barnes an easier task on the second of back-to-back appearances?
That occurred to me as well. I also thought that Cora might have gone to the "good" relievers first, and while it was close, in the hope that the best part of the team -- a top-scoring offense -- would pad the lead a bit and make the 9th (or maybe even the 8th) less close. The gamble was the offense scoring and having a lower-leverage 9th vs. having to preserve a 3run lead in the 9th with the not-best relievers. In the strictest sense, it worked. But then again, Cora has an industrial strength sphincter that I lack..
 

Plympton91

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How do you feel about Brian Bannister?
How many Cy Young awards did he win?

Benni can no longer respond.
This is pathetic. Is the new standard for the main Board going to be analytics all the time every time? Benni was making valid points that you simply do not want to hear.

The ideas of analytics rely on the maintained assumption that every pitcher’s performance is an independent random variable, as if they’re a CGI in a video game. Everyone keeps posting the stats of all the starters being worse than last year. Or the stats of the starters as a group and relievers as a group each being worse. And then they reject the idea that each pitcher feeds on the other synergistically out of hand. As if it’s equivalent to arguing for the flying spaghetti monster’s existence.

Well, maybe the lack of a strong bullpen is straining the starters. Maybe they’re making adjustments to try to go deeper in the game to avoid a bullpen, but those adjustments have been counterproductive. Maybe Matt Barnes pitches better when he does have a security blanket behind him.

Maybe there is a mental part of the game that is important and it is not all about spin rate and matchups.

But I guess folks making those points are no longer welcome.
 

shaggydog2000

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How many Cy Young awards did he win?



This is pathetic. Is the new standard for the main Board going to be analytics all the time every time? Benni was making valid points that you simply do not want to hear.

The ideas of analytics rely on the maintained assumption that every pitcher’s performance is an independent random variable, as if they’re a CGI in a video game. Everyone keeps posting the stats of all the starters being worse than last year. Or the stats of the starters as a group and relievers as a group each being worse. And then they reject the idea that each pitcher feeds on the other synergistically out of hand. As if it’s equivalent to arguing for the flying spaghetti monster’s existence.

Well, maybe the lack of a strong bullpen is straining the starters. Maybe they’re making adjustments to try to go deeper in the game to avoid a bullpen, but those adjustments have been counterproductive. Maybe Matt Barnes pitches better when he does have a security blanket behind him.

Maybe there is a mental part of the game that is important and it is not all about spin rate and matchups.

But I guess folks making those points are no longer welcome.
You can make up a billion non-fact based reasons for player performance changes. Doesn't mean any of them are right. Or should be talked about like they matter in the absence of actual proof.
 

absintheofmalaise

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How many Cy Young awards did he win?



This is pathetic. Is the new standard for the main Board going to be analytics all the time every time? Benni was making valid points that you simply do not want to hear.

The ideas of analytics rely on the maintained assumption that every pitcher’s performance is an independent random variable, as if they’re a CGI in a video game. Everyone keeps posting the stats of all the starters being worse than last year. Or the stats of the starters as a group and relievers as a group each being worse. And then they reject the idea that each pitcher feeds on the other synergistically out of hand. As if it’s equivalent to arguing for the flying spaghetti monster’s existence.

Well, maybe the lack of a strong bullpen is straining the starters. Maybe they’re making adjustments to try to go deeper in the game to avoid a bullpen, but those adjustments have been counterproductive. Maybe Matt Barnes pitches better when he does have a security blanket behind him.

Maybe there is a mental part of the game that is important and it is not all about spin rate and matchups.

But I guess folks making those points are no longer welcome.
Brian Bannister didn't have the talent that Pedro and Eckersley had so he used analytics to make himself a more effective pitcher. He's combining his knowledge of analytics to improve pitching performance with his experience as a major league pitcher to try to improve the performance of the pitchers on the team. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But that's a different conversation.

I agree that there is much more to the game and player performance than analytics, spin rates etc. Not using those is not why Benni is no longer with us. I'm not going to get into the reasons why on the main board. You've been around long enough to know where that conversation belongs.
 

joe dokes

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
13,009
You can make up a billion non-fact based reasons for player performance changes. Doesn't mean any of them are right. Or should be talked about like they matter in the absence of actual proof.
Or repeated despite actual evidence to the contrary.