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The performance of the Jays bullpen has improved a bit in recent games: instead of collectively blowing games every time they had a late lead, they have managed to provide effective innings to keep the Jays in the game more frequently.

Here are some bullpen numbers through game 26:

pitcher .. App  IP   BF  W IW  K  H/BIP net  BF/App Wrate Krate
Tam ........ 13 12.7 71 12 4 8 .373 -2.3 5.46 .119 .119
Politte .... 13 11.0 52 6 2 10 .324 +0.2 4.00 .080 .200
Escobar .... 10 8.3 48 4 1 10 .485 -5.2 4.80 .064 .213
Lopez ...... 12 9.3 45 6 2 12 .333 -0.1 3.75 .098 .279
Creek ...... 13 8.0 41 7 1 7 .250 +1.9 3.15 .154 .175
Miller ..... 14 7.0 37 4 1 9 .476 -3.1 2.64 .088 .250
Kershner ... 4 5.0 23 1 0 2 .263 +1.2 5.75 .043 .087
Linton ..... 7 9.0 35 4 0 7 .227 +2.2 5.00 .114 .200
Walker ..... 4 6.3 26 3 1 0 .091 +5.2 6.50 .080 .000
Team ...... 90 76.7 378 47 12 65 .328 .... 4.20 .097 .178

Since Pete Walker was moved to the starting rotation, the closest thing to a long reliever on the club has been Jeff Tam. A true long reliever should have a BF/appearance near 7, but Tam has been used a few too many times to try to get situational outs. Among the lefties, Miller and Creek have been used primarily as LOOGIES but it doesn't look as if Kershner will follow suit.

The "net" category is the difference between actual hits on balls in play and the team bullpen average. Kelvim Escobar has been extremely bad/unlucky so far at preventing hits on balls in play. A lot of them seem to go back up the middle and Kelvim, ever the "disciplined" pitcher, likes to wave at them as they pass by. Perhaps the middle infielders should start cheating up the middle to help him out.

Tam's walk and strikeout rates have been returning to his career norms. Aquilino's high strikeout rate bodes well for his future. Trever Miller has put up a good K/W rate while also allowing an inordinate number of hits in play. Carlos Tosca has had his relievers issue a league leading 12 intentional walks (Texas is second with 7), which has put further pressure on the shaky defence to come up with double plays and render those walks harmless. The Jays have now passed the Red Sox bullpen to sit 13th in the league in ERA at 5.52. Cleveland, at 4.73 sits in 12th.

Has the bullpen turned the corner? | 10 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_StephenT - Tuesday, April 29 2003 @ 01:27 PM EDT (#102945) #
_R Billie - Tuesday, April 29 2003 @ 02:34 PM EDT (#102946) #
That's pretty darn ugly. And that's a reflection of both the pitching and the defence.
Coach - Tuesday, April 29 2003 @ 07:00 PM EDT (#102947) #
Kelvim, ever the "disciplined" pitcher, likes to wave at them as they pass by.

Especially in a non-save situation.

further pressure on the shaky defence to come up with double plays

How patient should they be with Hudson? He stands on his head once in a while but he doesn't always use it. Berg is having a great year with the bat and makes the routine plays.

Stephen, thanks very much for the link.
_benum - Tuesday, April 29 2003 @ 11:22 PM EDT (#102948) #
Question: Has the bullpen turned the corner?
Answer: No
robertdudek - Wednesday, April 30 2003 @ 12:10 AM EDT (#102949) #
I can't fault Tosca on his bullpen choices today. He stuck with Aquilino as long as he could. He took Kershner out after the first two batters, which was probably a good idea (though I'm not sure what a lefty reliever was doing out there against a lineup full of righties). Unfortunately, Tam didn't challenge Everett when he should have (the dreaded base open stategy); he threw two ball fours which Everett swung at and a third one he didn't. Three feet to the left and A-Rod grounds into a DP. Oh well, Tam hasn't got the DP when he needed it this year. Gonzalez is not the kind of hitter you feed low and outside offerings to. The homerun was off a fairly good sinker (though it would have been much more effective if it was on the inside corner).

If this were my team, I'd make sure the next 15 innings Escobar throws are long-relief/mopup. It's plain to see that, in order to avoid walks, he's trying to throw the ball down the middle. The hits just keep on coming. This indicates lack of command just as much as if he were walking guys en masse.
_R Billie - Wednesday, April 30 2003 @ 12:44 AM EDT (#102950) #
To be honest, I'd make sure the next 15, 30, 45 innings Escobar throws are in the minors. If he has options then great. If not, maybe someone takes the rest of his contract off the Jays hands since he's pretty much destroying any trade value he has.

But he's either in desperate need of a conditioning stint or a wake-up call of epic proportions.
Gitz - Wednesday, April 30 2003 @ 01:09 AM EDT (#102951) #

One-quarter of a millimeter to the left on A-Rod's bat and the ball goes 450 feet. Oh, well.

It works both ways: for every ground ball that gets through, another is hit on the screws that goes right at someone. It's part of the game. See enough games, in fact, and you'll see that there are more balls hit hard right at someone than squeak through the infield or drop in the outfield.

You can spin all you want about Tam, but he's not getting the job done; at some point you've got to give Jeff credit for persevering and move on. The last year and the first month of this year is a large enough sample size for me to say it again: Tam is done.
robertdudek - Wednesday, April 30 2003 @ 09:46 AM EDT (#102952) #

Are you going to make the same comment everytime Tam has a bad outing? The fact remains that the hitters have not been hitting Tam all that hard THIS YEAR (whatever they may or may not have done last year). Is his velocity down? Has he lost the downward rotation on his Sinker? No and No.

Tam is a pitcher that needs to have good control. That's been his major problem this year. Gonzalez' homerun was the first Tam has given up all year. Roy Halladay has given up 8 - is he done? If Tam stops walking guys, his ERA is bound to improve. There may be some problems with his release point, or else he isn't being aggressive enough. These problems are correctable.

60 innings isn't a large sample size. Besides which, the Jays don't have anyone better to take his place, so there is no downside to giving him another 30 or 40 innings and seeing what happens.
Gitz - Wednesday, April 30 2003 @ 02:07 PM EDT (#102953) #

Well, not every time, but he's certainly giving me plenty of evidence to support my thesis. But, this will be the last time I say anything about Tam, unless he turns it around and becomes a useful member of the Jays 'pen. Then I will gladly eat my words.

You wrote a small column wondering if the Jays bullpen had turned it around based on a sample size of about a week. That is a small sample size. One year, one month, is not a small sample size. You continue to cite Tam's previous two years before last year as evidence of his eventual effectiveness, but for some reason it is taboo if I cite last year as evidence of his ineffectiveness. The A's are just as eager (if not more so) to find cheap pitching, and they would not have discarded Tam if they still thought he could help the team. Again, he was a low-risk investment, so it's not a big deal, and I certainly don't want to make it a bigger deal than it is. If the failures of Jeff Tam are the worst things to happen to the Blue Jays in the coming years, Toronto will be swingin'.

At any rate, I see that you didn't take the lesson from Papa Burley: just admit I'm right, and we can end this gobbledygook!

robertdudek - Wednesday, April 30 2003 @ 06:40 PM EDT (#102954) #
His strikeout rate is back to where it was in 2001 (in 2002 it was pitifully low). Pitchers have FAR more control over their strikeout and walk rates than their hits/BIP. That strikeout rate alone suggests that Tam has more "stuff" than he did last year. His poor walk rate so far is evidence that there is something wrong with either his mechanics, his approach to the batters or both.

So, if you look at the stats that really matter, it is evident that Tam isn't pitching like he was last year, and therefore his poor performance last year matters as little (or as much) as his 2000 and 2001 performance.

So far, I see NO evidence to support your thesis that he's "lost" it, unless by that you mean his inability to throw strikes in a couple of the games so far this year. Going by strikeout rate, he "lost it" in 2002 and has "regained it" in 2003.
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