At the (Third) Quarter Pole: Bullpen
By Sam Genson
As we are now 75% done with the (Regular) Season, it is time to once again look back on the Tigers bullpen. The previous rankings and reflections on the bullpen can be found here and here. Overall, the statistics have not chnaged much from where they were 40 games ago – the Tigers pen has an ERA of 4.31 with a 1.441 WHIP. As this is my first “review post” for MCB I found one set of stats to be VERY interesting – how the Tigers performed in Saves, Save Situations, and Non-Save Situations. In Saves, the pen (i.e. Jose Valverde plus 2 games of Beniot) has a .49 ERA with a WHIP of exactly 1 while racking up a 9.2 K/9IP ratio and a 2.24 K/BB ratio. In “Save Situations” the pen has a sparkling 2.89 ERA and a WHIP of 1.173 thank in part to a 8.7 K/9IP and 2.11 K/BB. When we look at “Non Save Situations” the pen is not so good (putting it nicely). They have compiled a 4.78 ERA and 1.528 WHIP with the K/9Ip dropping to 7.6 and their K/BB to 1.62. So basically, in the games where the Tigers would need to mount big comebacks, the pen doesn’t help them out that often because they aren’t throwing strikes.
However, then pen is a collective of individuals, so we should probably take a look at what those individuals have done the past 40 games.
Jose Valverde: A+ [3.31 ERA, 17 Saves, 17/10 K/BB in 19 IP, 0 of 2 Inherited runners scored]
-The Big Potato, outside of two games in July has been simple dominating. On July 1st against the Giants he entered the game when it was tired at 1-1 and ended up allowing 3 runs. On July 16 against the Pale Hosers of Chicago, he accomplished a similar feat, only thing time the Tigers were already trailing. Outside of those two instances Valverde has been the very definition of dominating – allowing on 1 run in the other 18.2 innings he has pitched.
Phil Coke: B [3.12 ERA, 5 Holds, 15/4 K/BB in 17.1 IP, 5 of 9 Inherited runners scored]
-Phil Coke’s transition from SP to MR came to fruition this quarter. He has been a solid and stabilizing arm in the bullpen. His ERA is quite good, but it does not tell the whole story. Coke has been at his best when coming in without any baserunners, only having 7 runs credited to him. However, of the 9 men who have been on base when he entered the game, 5 have scored. The whole point of bringing in a guy from the pen is the thought that he is fresh and a better matchup in the hope of keeping runs off the board. Coke has not succeeded in that task..but that is not entirely his fault (and as such, the runs are charged to the preceding pitcher).
Joaquin Benoit: A [2.64 ERA, 10 Holds, 1 Blown Save, 12/3 K/BB in 17 IP, 3 of 7 Inherited runners scored]
– While Valverde is clearly the best member of our bullpen (and paid accordingly) Benoit has developed into one of the next best options (also paid accordingly). He blew a save on July 20th against Oakland by allowing 4 runs – 3 inherited and 1 of his own – and then gave up 3 against Texas on August 2nd, a game the Tigers came back to win. Other than those two blemishes, Benoit has been almost perfect, allowing just 1 other run in 14 games this quarter. The July 20th game is the only game this quarter where Benoit let an inherited runner score.
Daniel Schlereth: A [2.7 ERA, 1 win, 10/5 K/BB in 10 IP, 0 of 1 Inherited runners scored]
-I know that Schlereth was pretty awful in yesterday’s game vs the Duplicates (Twins – 8/15) but overall he has been solid in since his recall on July 29th. 10 Innings is a bit of a small sample size, but maybe he actually figured something out during his month long stint in Toledo.
Ryan Perry: C – [1.87 ERA, 4/2 K/BB in 9.2 IP, 3 of 6 Inherited runners scored]
-While Perry’s ERA is sparkling, it doesn’t tell the whole story. While he only allowed 2 earned runs in his 9.2 IP this quarter, he allowed 5 total runs. If those were counted, his ERA jumps to 4.68. More concerning for me is that Perry has only struck out 4 people in those 9.2 IP, that is pretty low for a guy considered to be a strike out pitcher. On the other hand, he has only walked two guys too. So, I guess he has found the strikezone, but hasn’t found the edges yet – something that can spell disaster with the Tigers defense behind him.
David Purcey: F [ 18 ERA, 3/11 K/BB in 7 IP, 4 of 4 Inherited runners scored]
-Remind me again why we gave up Scott Sizemore for this? (edit – wow, he looks even WORSE when you factor in inherited runners scoring)
David Pauley: C -/D+ [4.09 ERA, 1 Hold, 1 BS, 1L, 4/2 K/BB in 6.2 IP, 3 of 5 Inherited runners scored]
-Pauley, the less talked about part of the Seattle trade, has been a below average contributor in his limited time in the Tigers pen. He has only pitched in 5 games for the Tigers so far, allowing men to score in all but one game (August 2nd against Texas). When looking at the base runners he has been responsible for, the picture looks better as he has only been credited with 3 runs against – 1 run on 8/9 vs CE and 2 runs on 8/10 vs. CLE (memo, don’t have him pitch against CLE). His numbers in Seattle were very good and while it is a bit silly to judge him on only 6.2 innings spread over 5 games, we need to hope the Seattle version was not smoke and mirrors.
You will notice a whole slew of names missing from this evaluation as the rookies (Al Alburquerque, Duane Below, Charlie Furbush, Lester Oliveros, Chance Ruffin, and Brayan Villareal all pitched this quarter for the Tigers) will be covered later on. If you look at the individual stats of this group, you can see why, in situations where the Tigers are ahead in the 8th and 9th innings, they usually stay ahead. The back end of the bullpen has been fantastic. The rest of it, while an improvement over last quarter, still has room to improve.