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…
|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.|
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:
|Statistics are through games of July 8, 2007, and are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.|
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:
- Slot someone — preferably Peavy or Young — between Maddux and Wells so that relievers have a better chance to recover between outings.
- 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.
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!
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…
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
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!