Who Is Taxing the Bullpen?

One thing I’m tracking this season is reliever usage. We know the Padres bullpen has been outstanding all year, but are the two fortysomethings in the rotation putting a strain on the relievers? With five guys in the bullpen who pitch on a regular basis plus two others who are along for the ride, it’s not always easy to keep arms fresh, especially when the old guys — who lose effectiveness around the sixth inning — are pitching on consecutive days, as has been the case for much of the first half (10 times).

What follows is mostly a data dump, but I think you’ll find some of the numbers interesting…

Bullpen Usage by Starter
Player GS App/G Pit/G IP/G
Statistics are through games of July 8, 2007, and are courtesy of Baseball-Reference. App/G is the average number of relief appearances per start, Pit/G is the average number of pitches thrown by relievers per start, IP/G is the average number of innings thrown by relievers per start.
Jake Peavy 18 2.56 39.39 2.61
Greg Maddux 18 2.50 41.33 2.96
Chris Young 17 2.29 38.53 2.80
David Wells 17 3.53 68.71 4.18
Justin Germano 11 2.73 49.45 3.30
Clay Hensley 6 3.17 62.00 3.94

Wells clearly is very reliant on the bullpen. Granted, he’s started two of the longest games this year (April 29 against the Dodgers, May 5 at Florida), but he’s also failed to make it through the sixth inning in 8 of his 17 starts. The Padres use an average of one more reliever per game with Wells on the mound than they do when Maddux starts. The bullpen throws 30 more pitches to record four more outs per Wells start than per Chris Young start.

Five times this season Padres relievers have had to throw 100 or more pitches in a game. Three of those were started by Wells:

Games in Which Padres Relievers Have Thrown 100+ Pitches
Player Date Opp App Pit IP H ER HR BB SO
Statistics are through games of July 8, 2007, and are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
Wells 4/13 @LA 3 101 5.2 5 4 0 4 3
Maddux 4/17 @ChN 5 127 9.0 2 0 0 2 8
Wells 4/29 LA 5 172 12.0 7 0 0 5 5
Hensley 5/2 Was 5 106 7.0 5 2 0 0 5
Wells 5/5 @Fla 7 115 6.2 4 3 0 4 9

Incidentally, the Padres lost that April 29 game where the bullpen worked 12 innings without allowing a single earned run. Tough day in the big leagues.

I guess if I’m presenting the problem, I should also suggest a solution. Given the propensity of Maddux and Wells to implode around the sixth inning or 75- to 80-pitch mark (we’ve touched on this several times and I’m not going to repeat it here; look up the splits at any of a number of sources if you’re not sure), and the strain that Wells in particular has put on the bullpen, I would recommend two courses of action:

  1. Slot someone — preferably Peavy or Young — between Maddux and Wells so that relievers have a better chance to recover between outings.
  2. Given that the seven-man bullpen is here to stay, be sure to use all seven guys. I don’t care that Kevin Cameron is a Rule V pick; a contending team cannot carry a player who twice has gone 10 days and once gone 17 (!) days between appearances. I like what I’ve seen of Cameron this year and I think he can be a valuable asset to the Padres, but not if he’s riding pine all the time.

Neither of these is particularly revolutionary, but I believe that implementing them would help balance the load and keep the bullpen fresh throughout the course of a long season. The last thing the Padres need right now is to see someone like Heath Bell get overworked and lose effectiveness down the stretch. As dependent as this club has been on its bullpen, it cannot afford to weaken the links between starter and closer.

Padres Prospect Report

by Peter Friberg

You will not see Drew Cumberland play college baseball. He signed with the Padres on Friday.

Friday, July 6, 2007


Pete LaForest: 4 AB, 0 R, 1 H, 0 RBI; 3 SO – another single!




Matt Antonelli: 4 AB, 3 R, 1 H, 1 RBI; BB
Chad Huffman: 4 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 5 RBI; BB, SO – 5 RBI w/o an XBH
David Freese: 4 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 2 RBI; BB


Cedric Hunter: 2 AB, 0 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; 2B, BB, CS
Aaron Breit: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 SO, 0 HR – ouch!

Short Season-A

Luis Durango: 6 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 3 RBI; 3B, HR, SO, SB – GW HR


Yefri Carvajal: 6 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 1 RBI; 3 2B, SO


On Friday night, Lake Elsinore scored 11 runs without hitting any extra-base hits and without any stolen bases. How did they do it? They walked seven times while striking out only three…

Saturday, July 7, 2007 (7/7/7)


Clay Hensley: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 SO, 0 HR – progress!


Chase Headley: 2 AB, 1 R, 0 H, 0 RBI; 3 BB
Nick Hundley: 3 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 1 RBI; 2 BB
Will Venable: 4 AB, 0 R, 1 H, 4 RBI; 2B


Kyle Blanks: 4 AB, 2 R, 1 H, 2 RBI; HR, BB, SO
Yordany Ramirez: 4 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 1 RBI; 3 SB


No significant performances…

Short Season-A

Mat Latos: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO, 0 HR – wow!


Juan Ciriaco: 4 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 2 RBI; 2 2B, BB, SO


Mat Latos came into the game in relief for the first time as a professional and dominated (remember, San Diego uses the tandem-starter system in Arizona and Eugene — the Padres do not see Latos as a reliever).

Yes, that Juan Ciriaco… The same 23 year-old guy who batted .197 in San Antonio and .239 in Lake Elsinore… I put him on the list because he’s had a few big games lately (3-for-6 with a 2B and HR on Friday) but he’s simply not a prospect. He’ll turn 24 in August… He should be doing this in Rookie ball but he shouldn’t be in Rookie ball; this is now Juan’s fifth season in the Padres organization.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Ryan Ketchner: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO, 2 HR


Chase Headley: 3 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 1 RBI; 2B
Will Venable: 3 AB, 2 R, 0 H, 0 RBI; BB
Paul Abraham: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0 HR


David Freese: 4 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI; SO
Craig Cooper: 4 AB, 0 R, 3 H, 0 RBI; 2 2B, SO


Rayner Contreras: 3 AB, 0 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; 2B, BB

Short Season-A

Mitch Canham: 5 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 0 RBI; 2B, SB – played DH
John Hussey: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO, 0 HR
Robert Woodard: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0 HR
Jeremy Hefner: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO, 0 HR


No game scheduled…


That pitch was outside! You can’t call that pitch a strike with the winning run on base! Ugh!

I don’t know what to make of Ryan Ketchner at this point. If we look at the starting pitching situation, it sure doesn’t look like Germano’s hold on that fifth starter spot is secure (5+ ER in three of last six starts) yet Hensley hasn’t looked like he could retake that role (6.59 ERA, 28/37 BB/SO ratio, .339 BAA, and 8 HR in 54.2 Triple-A innings). Up until Ketchner’s last two starts I was thinking we might see him in the San Diego rotation this season. I still think we might see him in the fifth starters role next year, but he needs to pitch more like the guy who started the season 1-8 (4.41 ERA) than the guy who has gone 0-2 since (11.81 ERA)…

Thanks, Peter. Quick programming note: I’m taking most of the week off, but I do have some good stuff lined up for you while I’m sipping fruity drinks from a bendy straw or whatever. Here’s the schedule:

  • Tue: Who Are the Padres’ Marquee Players?
  • Wed: Fun with Win Shares
  • Thu: Kevin Towers’ Trades of 1999

We’ll have the “1969 Revisited” series going as well. I’ll be back on Friday with the weekly link roundup and a monster edition of PPR, as well as the IGD that evening for the game against Arizona. Until then, be excellent to one another and go Padres!

Tagged as: , , , , , ,

36 Responses »

  1. At least the Padres sent Hampson down and kept Ring, Black will at least put Ring in critical situations of the game. Now is they will only outright Blum and Brocail and call up P-mac and Stansberry they might be in business.

  2. Also you bring up a good point peter about Ketchner being in the 5th spot next year, I would assume Maddux will return so the Padres will have Germano, Hensley, Thompson, Hampson, Stauffer, Ketchner, and Estes all going for the 4 & 5 spots next year, or will they try and sign a mid level starter in the offseason?

  3. I blame yesterday’s game loss on Pepe Negro again.
    Going into the ASB, why is he not using the bullpen after the 5 IP by Maddux?

    The Jenga era started already and it’s looking bright for the Padres.
    I don’t wish to see Silent L at 1B again. That was too much a reminder of Spring Training. Of course, he went 2 for 4. Dang it!

  4. 3: Tough loss last nite. Marcus was pissed, and rightfully so. Even ESPN’s K Zone had that pitch well off the plate.

    That said, the Padres have the best record in the NL. Milton Bradley is already looking like a smart pick-up, and could we please start a “Free Barrett” campaign. He’s so much more valuable than Bard at this point.

    This team lives and dies by its pitching. It has all season, and it will continue to do so. I generally don’t have a problem with this since this equation usually equals victories. I really hope that NOG and Adrian can get right over this break, as we’ll need more conistency from them at the top of the order. Perhaps Bradley and Barrett will begin to turn the tide of those one-run games and allow us to play closer to our expected winning percentage.

  5. Missed the game, but it didn’t sound good although we made a nice comeback attempt in the 9th. Overall, the first half is great, first place and some real good pitching. Hitting is real iffy but the addition of barrett and bradley should help. I think pitching should be the focus of the trade deadline, not sure Germano is the asnwer.

    Funny, with Bradley and Barrett on the team, the new starter-slacker becomes OG. 10 mil a year for a so so lead off guy who doesn’t steal bases, hmmmmm.

  6. I think the next tough decision is to get a 2B (Loretta) who is producing. Its kind of a risk that the Pads took when they singed nog, if he reverted back to the production level he had last year (which at this point he has) it will be tough on the club house to take him out of the lineup.

  7. I’m with Phantom, I think Barrett should be our everyday Catcher his bat plays and he seems to be getting more comfortable here.

  8. GY, enjoy the time off. You deserve it.

  9. Peavy has officially been named starter for the AS game!

  10. Good to see LaRussa do the right thing regarding Peavy, even though I’m sure it was against his better judgment.

    Let’s leave OG alone for a while, no he isn’t stealing bases or hitting home runs(but he gets on base which this team really, really needs) ….his little brother has done nothing since a hot start in April and deserves a lot more criticism then he gets.


  11. re OG: what about a .476 OBP since his return is a problem? I’ll take .380-400 the rest of the way, thank you very much. More runs will score.

    re NOG: Move Bradley up to 2, and dump NOG down to 6 or below until he stops scuffling – send him a message, and if he doesn’t get it, then consider a replacement if needed. Only problem is it makes the bottom of the order even more RH heavy.

  12. Sounds like a great kid. I wish he was a Padres.


  13. Will Carroll @ BP’s column (Under The Knife) is free today …


    And the BP newsletter I get says it’s *all* free this week …


    All the baseball content you love, at a price everyone can afford. Check out the columns, the data, and all the other goodies you’ve come to expect from BP, and tell a friend.

    … so, I’m telling you (ie. my friends) … go check it out!

  14. 12: Yeah, put NOG behind Khalil. That sends a clear message. He seems to be pressing a lot. Not that yesterday’s call was good (the pitch was clearly outside) but NOG hasn’t been having good ABs lately.

  15. 13 … thanks for the link, Didi … it’s a bit tough to root for a Dog, but this Martin kid sounds like he’s worth rooting for (up to a point :-) ).

  16. 16: Yeah, I know what you mean but man can that kid play. As long as the Dodgers lose, I’ll root for the kid. I’m sure he won’t be happy about the loss, though.

  17. BTW, the White Sox got Buerhle for 4 yrs/$56 millions. Nice pickup and will worth more to the White Sox than Zito’s to the Giants.

  18. The Padres shut down Batt Mush for a week or so because he developed a sore shoulder.


  19. Peter, The Storm will take 5 unearned runs any day.

  20. In his chat today, Buster Olney said the Padres turned down a proposal of Linebrink+Greene for Dye. Yes, we all know about KG’s putrid OBP, but are ya serious, for an aging FA-to-be?

  21. 21: They weren’t intending for that trade to actually go through though. They’ve made it clear that Dye is not really movable unless you want to give up a LOT to move him.

    Thanks for the note about BP, LynchMob.

    Is it wrong that I hate players for not trying at the All-Star game (i.e. Trevor’s reports of people packing up while he was getting ready to head out), but then when I read Jake talk about the lineup all I can think is “don’t overdo it, play it EASY!”

    Oh well, I’m sick, I’m allowed to think impartially.

  22. Great post, great info in there.

  23. 21: I’ve also seen that trade reported as Dye+Uribe for Greene+Linebrink, which would then turn into Green+Whatever The White Sox Could Get For Linebrink From Somebody Else.

    I’d rather have Bradley anyway, let alone for the respective costs.

  24. Stephen (21), that was first reported in U.T., then Rosenthal mentioned it, and now Olney’s talking about it…

    Chicago & Washington both ask for the moon in trade discussions. I’ve not been able to confirm it, but I hear they have Jon Daniels on speed-dial (yeah, I don’t know what that’s all about…).

  25. 21.. the reports of that have been out for a little bit. Kenny Williams reputation has been to ask for a lot but there is a market where you cant get a lot..

    One point of conversation is Peavy starts the All Star Game.. I know the concern has been Peavy might get a little too amped up.. anyone agree or disagree?

  26. 26: I’m highly concerned. I love Jake but it’s always something with him. Either he’ll get too amped up and knocked around or he’ll hurt himself somehow or the start will throw him off his regular schedule.

    On the other hand, I think CY will dominate if he gets to pitch and I’d love to see Trevor get another chance at the save.

  27. Quoting from Heyman (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/jon_heyman/07/08/midseason.awards/index.html):

    NL Cy Young

    1. Jake Peavy, Padres. A threat to dominate every time out.

    2. Chris Young, Padres. Tony La Russa must have anti-Ivy League bias to leave him off the original team. No way should the ERA leader (not to mention a 10-game winner) be left at home.

    3. Brad Penny, Dodgers. Alyssa Milano’s other boyfriends (Barry Zito, Carl Pavano) are in the tank. But this guy has come off the trading block to form the top of a great one-two punch with Derek Lowe (who prefers TV sports types).

  28. I apologize if this was previously posted. A little bit about the Padre’s Hoffman, no, not Trevor (well, OK, a tiny blurb about Trevor) Glenn.


  29. Anyone else get a kick outta Young serving a suspension yet playing in the All Star game?

    I think it’s pretty funny, although if it was a steriod suspension or such I don’t think it would be quite so humorous.

  30. Uh…where’s the IGD for the home run hitting contest?

  31. 31 … this is it … tell me what’s goin’ on!

    At AA San Antonio, Headley + Venable + Ayala all with good games …


  32. Vlad Guerrero defeated Alex Rios by the score of 3 to 2 in the finals. Whoopee!

  33. Great Q & A with Khalil in the paper today. You can read it here:

    I especially love his answer to this question: http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/padres/20070709-9999-lz1s9qanda.html

    Q: What motivates you?

    A: “Continuing to grow as an individual. I want to be as good as I can be. To me, a good play in practice is just as important as in the game because you should strive to do it right all the time. Satisfaction is in giving it your best, no matter the circumstance. It doesn’t make any difference if five people are watching you or 50,000.”

  34. Another STORM bomb gets drop’d … they beat RC 12-7 with 2 HRs by Blanks (#s 16 & 17) and an HR by Antonelli (#14) …


  35. Yeah, how did I miss that? I rarely bother with Fox this season but I do read the U-T most every day.