For my first Bullpen Report, I wanted to provide additional value so I blasted “Enter Sandman” and sprinted toward my office to write this.
Below the report of yesterday’s games, you will find rankings for 5×5 (W,ERA,WHIP,K,SV) and 6×6 (+Holds) leagues based on Zach Sander’s FVARz approach. For reference, I used 108 active Pitchers = 9 P x 12 teams and 25 IP as a qualifier. Why 25? I didn’t want to leave Ken Giles off the list.
But there’s more. In addition to their fantasy value, I’ve z-scored outcomes on the plate appearance level to depict pitcher skill (K%-BB%, Ct%, GB/FB, F-Str%, and IFFB% weighed by their correlations to ERA) and luck (BABIP, HR/FB and LOB% weighed by their correlations to ERA) thus far this season. To back up the top 20 relievers ranked by my “Skill” Score, I also furnished grids on their pitch outcomes, which depicts how well their individual pitches induce whiffs and grounders vs. flies.
On with the 8/16 Bullpen Report:
Phillies at Giants: Sergio Romo gets his fist save (a 2-outer) in almost a month. He struck out one a gave up a hit, but it looks as though he has regained form: only 4 hits in his last 8 IP with a 10:2 K:BB ratio. On the surface (contact rate, K-BB%, even BABIP), Romo still looks like the right choice for closer, but the HR/FB and LOB% has hurt him. I won’t change the grid below, but I have a feeling the job will be Romo’s again based on Santiago Casilla’s last few outings.
Ken Giles didn’t pitch, but he’ll get emphasized below.
Angels at Rangers: Incorporating 2013, Huston Street has almost a 100% LOB-rate. That didn’t change yesterday: it took 14 pitches (9 strikes) to shut down Texas. (Only him and Koji Uehara still have a 100% LOB-rate this year. If you’re in a Holds league and owned the entire LAA bullpen, then you’re a happy guy (or gal) as both Joe Smith and Jason Grilli also provided Holds.
Yankees at Rays: David Robertson gets the save through 0K, 0BB and a 0.000 BABIP, but I’ll attend more to Dellin Betances and even Brad Boxberger on this day. Both threw scoreless and hitless innings. Both are utterly dominating. Check out their respective skill scores and pitch outcomes below. Jake McGee has been great (13 of 15 in save chances after the loss yesterday) and is still surely their closer, but Boxberger is glorious.
Royals at Twins: Glen Perkins is one of the Twin’s few bright spots this year. He’s already at 30 saves and closed out the All Star Game to a standing ovation. Perkins has been a bit more hittable this year (BABIP 50 points higher than past 2 years; LOB rate dropped 10+%; and more contact in general), but he’s still a rock-solid option from a performance perspective and there’s no exciting options that would bump him out of the role now or in the future.
Mariners at Tigers: Joe Nathan earns the save, but gives up 2 hits and a run. Oh look, a bar of soap. David Price for the price was a great acquisition IMO, but they needed to further enhance this bullpen even after Joakim Soria returns. I’d start testing Justin Verlander in the bullpen immediately so long as he’s healthy.
Brewers at Dodgers: Francisco Rodriguez. He’s earned his nick-name back: K-rod. The K-rate never really went away completely, but it’s back with a sense of urgency. Relative to his contact/swinging-strike rates (similar or better rates in 2008, 2009 and 2011), his K-rate shouldn’t be as impressive, but his top 15 Changeup and solid Curve is still impressive. I think of it like this: I can make a ton of contact (I play adult baseball), but on 2 strikes, I still whiff so my K-rate doesn’t really match-up. K-rod is good with 2 strikes on the batter. The only thing keeping him elite this year is the HR/FB ratio, which was depicted tonight through a Kemp homer.
Diamondbacks at Marlins: From a skills perspective, Steve Cishek has looked good this year: career best K%-BB% (best K and BB rates yet). The contact rate is also the best we’ve seen. The luck-stats is where he’s regressed. With 50 IP as a qualifier, Steve Cishek has the 28th worst LOB% in baseball (66.5%) relative to his career 74.2%. His BABIP is also 80 points higher than last year. The big issue is a huge Groundball to line-drive swap. The Grounder drop is across his repertoire too. Yesterday, his slider did the trick: out of 19 total pitches, 12 were sliders and 8 of those were strikes. He pitched a scoreless IP and struck out 2.
Blue Jays at White Sox: Casey Janssen got the save. His strikeout was just a bonus. How does he equalize a horrendous K-rate? He furnishes the best BB-rate of his career. For relievers over 30 IP, Janssen has the 26th worst contact rate and his GB/FB ratio is the worst it’s ever been which is very concerning. But while the ERA is catching up to his expected rates, he continues to prevent hits on most days, but does gets shellacked sporadically (3 times in his last 11 appearances). If I need saves, I still use him but with caution. I don’t even think about using him in leagues that use K/9.
Athletics at Braves: Craig Kimbrel is good. Yesterday, he almost gave up a homer and walked one without a strikeout, but he still got you the save and has struck out 2 or 3 hitters per inning in 6 of his last 11 starts. Of (very little) interest, in 5 of his last 6 starts, his first-pitch strike% has been below his average rate this year, which has also dropped 3 years straight and is the worst since his rookie year. I’m just nitpicking though because the contact and whiff rates are still dandy.
Sean Doolittle did not pitch, but he gets his status below as well.
Astros at Red Sox: I already mentioned above near Huston Street, It’s all or nothing with Koji Uehara. Today, it was all in a non-save situation through a Jason Castro homer. Luckily it was prior to the 2nd hit keeping his LOB% at a perfect 100%. While the “luck” rates (HR/FB, BABIP) have regressed and the K-rate dropped back to his 2012 level, his contact and swinging strike rates are the best of his career. The BABIP is still an elite .238 but don’t think that is luck. He’s been at .200 or better the last 3 years and his line-drive rate is up 10% from last year (21.3%) and the worst rate of his career – again, just nitpicking. Enjoy his outcomes below.
Check out the below embedded files prior to the Closer Grid. The first is currently listed by their “Skill” scores but hopefully you can sort the columns: The 6th column is their 5×5 values/rankings for standard 5×5 formats and column 7 is 6×6 with holds. The Green “Skill” column associated with the Green skills’ z-scores; the Red “Luck” column associated with the Red BABIP, LOB% and HR/FB columns, but this lacks value because I didn’t compare this years’ rates to their career rates. The second grid below is the Pitch Type Outcome matrices that backs up the top 20 relievers I highlighted (Chapman, Uehara, Giles, Doolittle, Boxberger, Kenley Jansen, Kimbrel, Betances, Holland, Andrew Miller, Joaquin Benoit and Wade Davis).
Skill/Luck/FAVRz Grid (top 20 RP have their pitch outcomes listed in the last matrix below):
Pitch Type Outcome Grid (pulled from Baseball Pro’s Pitch F/X Leaderboard):
-I left out velocity and movement on the pitches – I’m just focused on the outcomes here.
-Don’t be too concerned with the GB/FB ratio at least on the fastball. Flyballers should have lower BABIPs so long as they are not falling as homers too often. For example, Doolittle’s GB/FB ratio on his fastball is inferior to the rest, but that’s great in Oakland and a big reason for his elite BABIP.
-Sinkers are omitted since not one of these relievers used the pitch 50 times yet this year, but I made notes highlighted in green where they do have that pitch in their repertoire. The “rarely uses” vs. “mixes in” is semantics taken from BrooksBaseball.net.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
Daniel Schwartz contributes for RotoGraphs when he's not selling industry leading thermal packaging. You can follow him on twitter @RotoBanter