Bullpen '21

Hairps

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Sawamura was incredible last night. The real save came in the eighth. Second inning of duty with statnton, judge, urshela and torres up. Apart from the walkof Stanton, he was perfect.

If he turns out to be Tazawa 2.0 (12-14), we'd all be ecstatic, especially with how well Tazawa handled MFY. The repertoires are similar too. Sensational stuff. Sawamura being a reliable hi-lev performer goes a long way in the bullpen stabilizing.
Another interesting thing about Sawamura (at least to me), is that he's about the only Sox pitcher to throw low in (or outside of) the zone.

His splitter comes in fifth lowest above home plate among all of MLB (min. 100 pitches).

Overall, he throws his entire repetoire 43rd lowest among all of MLB (min. 250 pitches), on a pitching staff that does not focus on it (Sox pitchers are 26th out of all 30 MLB clubs in pitches' height above home plate).
 
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greek_gawd_of_walks

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Another interesting thing about Sawamura (at least to me), is that he's about the only Sox pitcher to throw low in (or outside of) the zone.

His splitter comes in fifth lowest above home plate among all of MLB (min. 100 pitches).

Overall, he throws his entire repetoire 43rd lowest among all of MLB (min. 250 pitches), on a pitching staff that does not focus on it (Sox pitchers are 26th out of all 30 MLB clubs in pitches' height above home plate).
That is really interesting, especially with how much Cora and Co. are really advocating for him to pitch up in the zone with his fastball.

If he commands the top of the zone with his 97 heater and the bottom with his split (it's impressive that he can touch 93-94 with it, but I think when it's thrown in the high eighties/90 mph it's most effective), he could really be an effective seventh/eighth inning guy.
 

BaseballJones

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You know who's been great lately? Josh Taylor.

Last 14 appearances: 10.1 ip, 6 h, 0 r, 0 er, 3 bb, 11 k, 0.00 era, 0.87 whip, 9.6 k/9

And really, since his second outing, which was a 4-runs-in-2/3 inning affair, he's been terrific.

21 g, 17.2 ip, 15 h, 4 r, 4 er, 7 bb, 19 k, 2.04 era, 1.25 whip, 9.7 k/9
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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amRadio

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Yeah, hard pass for me too. I have no interest in paying Barnes during the best two month stretch of his career. If I were Bloom, he'd likely be insulted by my offer so I would just let the market insult him in the offseason instead.
 

greek_gawd_of_walks

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It's really just based on his stature and the way he comes set/delivers the ball, but he reminds me a bit of JJ Putz on the mound. If he ever turned out to be half of what Putz was, we'd all be ecstatic.
 

shaggydog2000

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It's really just based on his stature and the way he comes set/delivers the ball, but he reminds me a bit of JJ Putz on the mound. If he ever turned out to be half of what Putz was, we'd all be ecstatic.
So you think he looks like a Putz out there?
 

jon abbey

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JA, can you tell us which MLB-caliber arms the Yankees are going to give up on this coming offseason?? It’ll help with our roster planning. Thanks.
Heh, I don’t think they have a real rule 5 crunch this winter, but I’m not quite sure what happened with Ort except maybe they decided at 29 he was too old. JP Feyereisen is another one they gave up on/gave away, now pitching crucial late innings for TB.
 

Apisith

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It really seems like the 26th man will allow for a lot of bad teams to pick off players from good systems. Obviously it’s easier to stash a player if you have 26 slots than if you had 25. That, and how covid ruined last year minor’s, has really offered a chance for well-run teams to restock their systems.
 

sean1562

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You know who's been great lately? Josh Taylor.

Last 14 appearances: 10.1 ip, 6 h, 0 r, 0 er, 3 bb, 11 k, 0.00 era, 0.87 whip, 9.6 k/9

And really, since his second outing, which was a 4-runs-in-2/3 inning affair, he's been terrific.

21 g, 17.2 ip, 15 h, 4 r, 4 er, 7 bb, 19 k, 2.04 era, 1.25 whip, 9.7 k/9

Since this post, Taylor has a stat line of 5 IP, 1 hit, 1 BB, 0 ERs and 10 Ks. 17 batters faced and 10 ks. So who exactly is this guy?? I still have this idea in my head that he is some fungible middle reliever but he has been amazing outside of that first Orioles series.
 

amRadio

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In 2019 from July to the end of the season Taylor posted a 2.07 ERA in 34 innings and 40 appearances along with 43 K's to 12 walks. He may be streaky, or he may really have something. I believe - albeit with no tangible evidence, but it seems obvious enough - that many players' routines were interrupted for that season and it was just a strange season with wonky statistical results.

Taylors run to end the 2019 season and this current hot streak are somewhat interesting to me. I think he might well be a valuable piece. We'll see.
 

cantor44

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In 2019 from July to the end of the season Taylor posted a 2.07 ERA in 34 innings and 40 appearances along with 43 K's to 12 walks. He may be streaky, or he may really have something. I believe - albeit with no tangible evidence, but it seems obvious enough - that many players' routines were interrupted for that season and it was just a strange season with wonky statistical results.

Taylors run to end the 2019 season and this current hot streak are somewhat interesting to me. I think he might well be a valuable piece. We'll see.
He is flat out good.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Taylor had COVID last year. It was asymptomatic, but he had to quarantine for 2 weeks and missed training time, and that made his messed-up season even more messed up.

https://www.providencejournal.com/story/sports/2020/08/17/josh-taylor-becomes-first-red-sox-player-to-return-from-covid-19/42606719/

Taylor tested positive during the club’s intake process and was quarantined at a Boston hotel for 14 days. He was asymptomatic but still required extended time to make a return to baseball shape. Taylor worked several times in simulated games at the club’s alternate site in Pawtucket.

“It’s awesome,” Taylor said. “Just coming back to see the guys I got so many warm welcomes. It just felt good to come back and be around everybody.”

Taylor enjoyed a strong debut with the Red Sox in 2019. He made 52 appearances – all but one out of the bullpen – and posted a 3.04 earned-run average. Taylor struck out 62, walked 16 and allowed just 40 hits in 47 1/3 innings.

“It’s great having him back, but it’s probably a little unfair thinking he’s going to be like he was last year when he came up and did so well for us,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said. “We tried to build him up as best we could and give him as many outings as we could before we activated him.”
In his 79 career major league innings (including his 9.82 ERA in 7+ IP last year and his horrible start this year) he's got a 127 ERA+, a 3.28 FIP, and a 101/31 K/BB.

In 33 appearances (29.1 IP) against Baltimore, Tampa and Toronto, he's allowed 22 earned runs. Hopefully that's just small sample randomness, and not those teams figuring him out after seeing him so often.
 

sean1562

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It is absolutely wild that our bullpen has gone from a dumpster fire to a strength of this team. What makes it even more satisfying is that a significant part of that improvement is leaning heavily on yankees castoffs. Ottavino has been fantastic after a rough first month. I don’t know exactly what we have with Whitlock but he appears to be, at the very least, a solid back end reliever for the next few years
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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It is absolutely wild that our bullpen has gone from a dumpster fire to a strength of this team. What makes it even more satisfying is that a significant part of that improvement is leaning heavily on yankees castoffs. Ottavino has been fantastic after a rough first month. I don’t know exactly what we have with Whitlock but he appears to be, at the very least, a solid back end reliever for the next few years
Yes, I thought we'd have a terrible pen this year - what could you expect after last year? - but it's been delightful to look at the box score most mornings and see all the zeros thrown up by multiple guys. Still worried that the number of 5 innings performances by the starters will cause stress, but the bullpen has been the biggest surprise of the year.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Just goes to show that good bullpens are more often lucked into than built with intent. A cast-off here, a journeyman there, an older than usual rookie comes up, add in a couple failed/unrealized starters relegated to relieving, and all of a sudden it all comes together. Then on the other hand, you sign the biggest name on the market, trade for a former closer, and make a mid-season trade to assemble a great bullpen on paper, and it fizzles when it counts. The eye opener for me on the front was always the 2002 Angels. Look at that pen, and aside from Percival, it's a bunch of retreads, never-heard-of-hims, and career years. Yet they won the Series that year on the strength of that bullpen.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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... Still worried that the number of 5 innings performances by the starters will cause stress, but the bullpen has been the biggest surprise of the year.
It’s a legit concern, but it’s every team’s concern. If I’m reading this correctly, average IP per start looks like it’s 5.1; Sox are at 5.2: https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/majors/2021-starter-pitching.shtml

Hoping we have enough depth; Sale should help, in whatever role he returns.

That 02 Angels pen was silly good. They did get a huge boost from that 20 year old phenom, though, who ended up having a pretty fair career!
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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That 02 Angels pen was silly good. They did get a huge boost from that 20 year old phenom, though, who ended up having a pretty fair career!
True, but at the time, he fell into the "never-heard-of-him" category. And wasn't on anyone's radar in say, June of that year. At least not in the sense of who might be a big help in the second half or post-season the way we're talking about Sale or Houck.
 

shaggydog2000

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Sale and Houck will help a lot. If one of ERod/Richards/Perez can’t steady things we might need some external help also.
So many of Erods underlying stats are so good that I'd expect him to go back to being a good pitcher. His BABIP is .380, and maybe our defense is bad and his line drive rate is a bit higher than in the past, but none of the other starters have a BABIP that bad and the difference in LD% isn't huge. Add in Houck and Sale, and there is a lot of hope for internal improvement.
 

joe dokes

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It’s a legit concern, but it’s every team’s concern. If I’m reading this correctly, average IP per start looks like it’s 5.1; Sox are at 5.2: https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/majors/2021-starter-pitching.shtml

Hoping we have enough depth; Sale should help, in whatever role he returns.
I was looking for that. Based on what we've seen of opponents this year, it seems like the Sox are in pretty fair shape, as SPs go. The real bottom line these days seems to be, "just dont get completely blown out."
 

cantor44

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Just goes to show that good bullpens are more often lucked into than built with intent. A cast-off here, a journeyman there, an older than usual rookie comes up, add in a couple failed/unrealized starters relegated to relieving, and all of a sudden it all comes together. Then on the other hand, you sign the biggest name on the market, trade for a former closer, and make a mid-season trade to assemble a great bullpen on paper, and it fizzles when it counts. The eye opener for me on the front was always the 2002 Angels. Look at that pen, and aside from Percival, it's a bunch of retreads, never-heard-of-hims, and career years. Yet they won the Series that year on the strength of that bullpen.
This largely true ... and yet ...Ottavino has an established track record as a quality reliever in the bigs, Sawamura was excellent in Japan, Barnes - while taking a step forward this year - has been good for a while, Whitlock was well regarded and had excellent minor league numbers before TJ (admittedly he has been a surprise, but the only reason he was rule 5 is he was coming off TJ, not because of past poor performance). I guess I'm only finessing your point: the group above is not a group of guys who had otherwise failed, and the organization was throwing darts. It is not luck, but savvy that Bloom assembled these guys.
These were informed decisions that acquired talented arms.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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This largely true ... and yet ...Ottavino has an established track record as a quality reliever in the bigs, Sawamura was excellent in Japan, Barnes - while taking a step forward this year - has been good for a while, Whitlock was well regarded and had excellent minor league numbers before TJ (admittedly he has been a surprise, but the only reason he was rule 5 is he was coming off TJ, not because of past poor performance). I guess I'm only finessing your point: the group above is not a group of guys who had otherwise failed, and the organization was throwing darts. It is not luck, but savvy that Bloom assembled these guys.
These were informed decisions that acquired talented arms.
Not trying to imply that there wasn't scouting or intent behind every acquisition. More lack of expectation, especially from the fan base. I'm sure I wouldn't have to search long to find posts right here on this board back in February and March bemoaning how weak the bullpen appeared to be. Ottavino was a salary dump by the Yankees after a rough season, so he qualifies as a cast-off even if he's had good seasons before. Sawamura was good in Japan but there's always a question of whether that will translate. Whitlock might have been highly regarded, but he's making the rule 5 jump from AA, which rightfully comes with zero expectations of being anything but a human white flag. Josh Taylor was an undrafted free agent that toiled in the minors for five years before getting his shot.

Point being, that all the due diligence in the world trying to assemble a good bullpen is still subject the variability of relievers in general.
 

Cesar Crespo

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This largely true ... and yet ...Ottavino has an established track record as a quality reliever in the bigs, Sawamura was excellent in Japan, Barnes - while taking a step forward this year - has been good for a while, Whitlock was well regarded and had excellent minor league numbers before TJ (admittedly he has been a surprise, but the only reason he was rule 5 is he was coming off TJ, not because of past poor performance). I guess I'm only finessing your point: the group above is not a group of guys who had otherwise failed, and the organization was throwing darts. It is not luck, but savvy that Bloom assembled these guys.
These were informed decisions that acquired talented arms.
People can make informed decisions and still get lucky. It's a combination of luck and work.
 

joe dokes

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The larger picture for me is that Ottavino had no greater chance in March of being good than, say, Taylor.
 
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What worries me is that the bargain-bin starters assembled by Bloom appear to be turning back into pumpkins, especially Richards (and who knows what up with EdRo). However, that hasn't yet happened with the pen. If we blame the great Bullfrog crackdown of summer '21 (and it is surely more complex than that), it is interesting that it has not yet impacted the relievers as much as the starters.
 
Sep 1, 2019
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average IP per start looks like it’s 5.1
That's really an amazing stat. I can't imagine there have been very many complete games in the majors this years.

I'd like to see starters go deeper into games, but those days may be gone for good given the impact of analytics on pitching.

A related incredible 2021 factoid: over 42% of complete games have been no-hitters (article from end of May so probably lower now, but still....):

link

"That percentage had never been higher than 2% before 2007, when it was 3.53%."
 
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Red(s)HawksFan

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That's really an amazing stat. I can't imagine there have been very many complete games in the majors this years.

I'd like to see starters go deeper into games, but those days may be gone for good given the impact of analytics on pitching.
The low average this year may also be attributable to more 7-inning games due to double headers, as well as teams being more cautious with their pitchers solely due to the short season last year. When no one last year got to even 90 innings pitched, I expect fewer than usual will throw 180+ this year.
 

Cesar Crespo

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That's really an amazing stat. I can't imagine there have been very many complete games in the majors this years.

I'd like to see starters go deeper into games, but those days may be gone for good given the impact of analytics on pitching.

A related incredible 2021 factoid: over 42% of complete games have been no-hitters (article from end of May so probably lower now, but still....):

link

"That percentage had never been higher than 2% before 2007, when it was 3.53%."
There have been 30 CG this year.

I don't understand that article even factoring in it was wrote on 5/30. There were 14 CG in March/April, 10 in May and 6 so far in June.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/split.cgi?t=p&lg=MLB&year=2021

Maybe 10 of the first 24 weren't 9 inning CGs and the writer is only using 9 inning CG? I dunno.

edit: yeah 9+. Do 7 inning no hitters not count as an official no hitter but as an official CG and SO?
 
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cantor44

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What worries me is that the bargain-bin starters assembled by Bloom appear to be turning back into pumpkins, especially Richards (and who knows what up with EdRo). However, that hasn't yet happened with the pen. If we blame the great Bullfrog crackdown of summer '21 (and it is surely more complex than that), it is interesting that it has not yet impacted the relievers as much as the starters.
Yes, but I think the composition of the pen makes them less a bunch of Cinderella's than the starting rotation. That is, the rotation was playing way above their mean the first couple months of the season, while I think the pen is producing as you might reasonably expect. At the start of the season (pre being a SoSH member so I can't prove it), I remarked to a friend who thought the Sox would be just as bad in 2021 as 2020 that they should be a bit better as the 'pen was improved and some guys on offense would bounce back (I admit I didn't think the Sox would play this well, but maybe, like 85 wins). I think the bullpen will maintain their good work, with the huge caveat that what with so many short starts by the starters, they may well burn out.
 
Sep 1, 2019
140
Good point--that arbitrary definition certainly affects the numbers. Nevertheless, it is a notable stat, reflective of how the game has changed.

This article from 2019 is perhaps better, with a nice graphic:

link

30 CG already this year is above what that graphic would predict, so maybe the trendline is starting back up.
 

BaseballJones

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Man, the bullpen has just been SOLID.

Barnes: 2.81 era, 0.88 whip, 15.2 k/9
Ottavino: 2.81 era, 1.28 whip, 10.7 k/9
Sawamura: 2.67 era, 1.35 whip, 11.6 k/9
Taylor: 3.16 era, 1.48 whip, 11.9 k/9
Hernandez: 3.00 era, 1.58 whip, 12.0 k/9
Whitlock: 1.49 era, 1.16 whip, 9.4 k/9
Workman: 2.00 era, 1.56 whip, 8.0 k/9
Andriese: 5.56 era, 1.68 whip, 9.3 k/9

It's clear that Andriese is the long man, mop up guy, guy you put in during a blowout. Workman is still finding a role but it's low leverage for sure. Whitlock is a guy you bring in earlier rather than later, in a close game or with the lead. Hernandez and Taylor give them a couple of good lefty options. Sawamura (except last night) has been pretty reliably good. Ottavino, who I've been critical of this year, has actually been really good. And Barnes has been solid. Basically everyone but Andriese has been very good all year long, and it's okay to have one guy like that at the very back of the bullpen (the 8th guy).

I wish the whip numbers were a little lower, but otherwise the results are there. And we're nearly halfway through the season so it's not just a tiny sample size.
 

bosockboy

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Man, the bullpen has just been SOLID.

Barnes: 2.81 era, 0.88 whip, 15.2 k/9
Ottavino: 2.81 era, 1.28 whip, 10.7 k/9
Sawamura: 2.67 era, 1.35 whip, 11.6 k/9
Taylor: 3.16 era, 1.48 whip, 11.9 k/9
Hernandez: 3.00 era, 1.58 whip, 12.0 k/9
Whitlock: 1.49 era, 1.16 whip, 9.4 k/9
Workman: 2.00 era, 1.56 whip, 8.0 k/9
Andriese: 5.56 era, 1.68 whip, 9.3 k/9

It's clear that Andriese is the long man, mop up guy, guy you put in during a blowout. Workman is still finding a role but it's low leverage for sure. Whitlock is a guy you bring in earlier rather than later, in a close game or with the lead. Hernandez and Taylor give them a couple of good lefty options. Sawamura (except last night) has been pretty reliably good. Ottavino, who I've been critical of this year, has actually been really good. And Barnes has been solid. Basically everyone but Andriese has been very good all year long, and it's okay to have one guy like that at the very back of the bullpen (the 8th guy).

I wish the whip numbers were a little lower, but otherwise the results are there. And we're nearly halfway through the season so it's not just a tiny sample size.
The concern is they are reaching a pressure point on usage. We need some more innings from SP or additional offense to create separation and not use critical relievers to preserve every win.

They are 41-4 when they reach 4 runs. Fix the lineup and they can really take off.
 

BaseballJones

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The concern is they are reaching a pressure point on usage. We need some more innings from SP or additional offense to create separation and not use critical relievers to preserve every win.

They are 41-4 when they reach 4 runs. Fix the lineup and they can really take off.
Well the Sox are smack dab in the middle of MLB in terms of bullpen innings pitched so far, at 278. That's 16th most, just 1.1 innings more than the 15th most (NY). So it doesn't seem like they're abusing their relievers relative to other teams. But I do agree with you that I'd love for their starters to go deeper.
 

cantor44

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Man, the bullpen has just been SOLID.

Barnes: 2.81 era, 0.88 whip, 15.2 k/9
Ottavino: 2.81 era, 1.28 whip, 10.7 k/9
Sawamura: 2.67 era, 1.35 whip, 11.6 k/9
Taylor: 3.16 era, 1.48 whip, 11.9 k/9
Hernandez: 3.00 era, 1.58 whip, 12.0 k/9
Whitlock: 1.49 era, 1.16 whip, 9.4 k/9
Workman: 2.00 era, 1.56 whip, 8.0 k/9
Andriese: 5.56 era, 1.68 whip, 9.3 k/9

It's clear that Andriese is the long man, mop up guy, guy you put in during a blowout. Workman is still finding a role but it's low leverage for sure. Whitlock is a guy you bring in earlier rather than later, in a close game or with the lead. Hernandez and Taylor give them a couple of good lefty options. Sawamura (except last night) has been pretty reliably good. Ottavino, who I've been critical of this year, has actually been really good. And Barnes has been solid. Basically everyone but Andriese has been very good all year long, and it's okay to have one guy like that at the very back of the bullpen (the 8th guy).

I wish the whip numbers were a little lower, but otherwise the results are there. And we're nearly halfway through the season so it's not just a tiny sample size.
Yeah except for the top 3, the bullpen whip gets a bit hairy there.

The Sox overall team whip is over 1.40, 25th in the league. The team fielding percentage is 9.80, 29th in the league. This plays out anecdotally when watching the games - seems like every inning is a white-knuckle job, with so few 1-2-3 innings, so many guys on base, extra outs given, and sooooooo many pitches thrown.

You wonder ... how are they doing it? What kind of voodoo magic is Cora pulling here?? Subpar starting pitching, terrible defense, not much speed, 3-4 block holes in the line up on any given night. And yet - they win! In part because of the great middle of the order and a good bullpen. But the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts with this team - they've got grit or chemistry or heart or whatever other cliche you wanna call it - and this makes them fun and lovable.
 

jmcc5400

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Taylor's WHIP after his first two disastrous outings in the opening series against Baltimore was 9.00 (and his ERA was 45.00). Since then, he's had a 1.18 WHIP, which is exactly what it was in 2019, and a 1.46 ERA. A 1.46 ERA probably isn't sustainable, but there isn't any reason to think that a 1.18 WHIP isn't pretty representative of who he is.
 

Cesar Crespo

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And when they say that a walk is as good as a hit, while in some instances it's true, quite obviously it's not.
They say a walk is as good as a single, in this case we are actually talking about hits. A walk isn't as good as a single, it's definitely not as good as a hit.

You can walk 3 guys before a run scores. Chances of giving up 3 hits without a run coming across are slim to none.

The same thing happened in the 2018 playoffs.