In Part II I look at Jason Frasor, Vinnie Chulk, Justin Speier and Scott Schoeneweis in April. Click here to read the first of my bullpen in review article, where I talked about Brandon League, Matt Whiteside, Miguel Batista and Pete Walker. It also allows me to draw some conclusions about who was the most effective and which pitchers were used in critical situations. There are some interesting conclusions, including the fact that only three of the eight relievers had positive contributions during the month and the, perhaps not surprising, fact that Batista was not the pitcher the Jays called upon in critical situations.
Game Opponent Result BF H ER BB K WP Credit April 6 Devil Rays L 8-5 5 2 1 1 1 -0.053 April 9 Red Sox W 12-5 4 0 0 0 1 +0.223 April 13 Athletics L 6-3 4 2 3 1 0 -0.276 April 18 Red Sox L 12-6 6 3 2 0 2 -0.026 April 20 Yankees L 11-2 3 0 0 0 1 +0.002 April 22 Orioles L 13-5 4 1 0 0 0 +0.137 April 26 Devil Rays W 7-5 2 0 0 0 1 +0.166 April 27 Devil Rays W 8-2 2 0 0 1 0 +0.008 April 30 Yankees L 4-3 3 0 0 0 0 +0.105
April WPA Total: +0.224
Average P Value: 0.088824
Best Outing: April 9 vs. Red Sox, Jays won 12-5; +0.223
Frasor pitched in a number of high-leverage situations in April. Surprisingly, the one where Frasor had the highest WPA was in a game where the Jays won 12-5. However, the game wasn’t out of the reach of the Red Sox when he entered the game. The game was tied 5 apiece with the Red Sox threatening with runners on second and third and two out. Gibbons wisely removed Schoeneweis from the game with Manny Ramirez on deck and brought in Frasor. He struck out Manny Ramirez to escape the jam. The Jays scored a run to make it 6-5 and Frasor came out for the eight. Frasor retired the dangerous David Ortiz on a pop out and then got Millar on a fly out and Varitek on another pop out. All in all it was an incredibly important appearance for Frasor, especially with the strike out of Ramirez. The Jays would score 6 in the eight, but Frasor’s contributions had already been measured.
Worst Outing: April 13 vs. Athletics, Jays lost 6-3; -0.276
Unfortunately, Frasor’s next appearance would be even more negative than his previous one was positive. Frasor entered a 2-2 game between the Jays and the A’s in the bottom of the eighth inning. Nick Swisher singled to right and Mark Ellis promptly sacrificed him to second, as the A’s attempted to push across the go-ahead run for Octavio Dotel. Frasor then intentionally walked Mark Kotsay to set up the double-play for Jason Kendall. Kendall smacked a single to left, which scored Swisher and advanced Kosay to second. Frasor exited the game having given up the lead and with runners still on first and second. Both runners would eventually come round to score, as would another and the A’s scored four in the inning and won the game.
Third Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Josh Phelps (April 26 vs. Devil Rays); P Value: 0.221709; +0.074
The old Baseball Prospectus cover boy came to bat to face Jason Frasor in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game the Jays were winning 6-5. Schoeneweis had surrendered a single to Nick Green who was standing on first base. There were none out and Frasor was summoned to face Phelps. A single would put in Green in scoring position with none out and would swing the odds of winning the game in the Devil Rays’ favour. Frasor was able to strike out Phelps swinging and keep the double play in order, which was important and he induced a groundball from Jorge Cantu on the next batter and the Jays middle infield performed a twin killing.
Second Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Jorge Cantu (April 6 vs. Devil Rays); P Value: 0.26894; -0.129
Jason Frasor came in to pitch the seventh inning of a game the Jays were winning 3-1 and promptly walked Nick Green and gave up a single to Chris Singleton. With runners on first and second and none out, Cantu stepped to the plate. They had the tying run on first with none out and the Devil Rays were looking for more. In this crucial at-bat Cantu emerged as the victor as he singled to right field and the bases were loaded. Now the potential tying run was on second and the go-ahead run was on first. And Toby Hall stepped to the plate.
Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Toby Hall (April 6 vs. Devil Rays); P Value: 0.40743; +0.161
Hall had the bases loaded with none out and the Devil Rays were down by two. At this point in the game the Jays had a 48% chance of winning and the Devil Rays had a 52% chance of winning. Frasor induced a ground ball to short and Orlando Hudson made a nice turn at second and Hall was the easy victim of the double play. The Jays would always trade two outs for a run in that situation and Hall’s double-play skyrocketed their chance of winning to about 66%, which would have been even higher if we could account for the new batter, who was Alex Gonzalez.
Game Opponent Result BF H ER BB K WP Credit April 5 Devil Rays W 6-3 3 1 0 0 0 +0.021 April 6 Devil Rays L 8-5 5 2 2 0 1 -0.423 April 9 Red Sox W 12-5 3 0 0 0 0 +0.002 April 11 Athletics W 10-3 5 1 1 1 0 +0.000 April 13 Athletics L 6-2 2 0 0 1 1 +0.003 April 17 Rangers L 6-5 2 0 0 0 1 +0.026 April 18 Red Sox L 12-6 3 0 0 0 0 +0.000 April 20 Yankees L 11-2 3 0 0 0 1 +0.002 April 22 Orioles L 13-5 3 2 1 0 0 -0.274 April 28 Devil Rays W 7-4 4 2 0 0 0 +0.010
April WPA Total: -0.687
Average P Value: 0.0351791
Best Outing: April 18 vs. Red Sox, Jays lost12-6; +0.026
While Speier had positive contributions in eight of his ten appearances; his two most important appearances were disastrous, as one can see above. It was an indication of the lack of leverage of his other appearances that his most positive contribution comes from a 26 point performance. In this game Speier entered the bottom of the eighth inning with one out and none on to face Sandy Alomar Jr. and Gary Matthews Jr. Alomar Jr. flew out to Alex Rios and Little Sarge struck out. While the game was a one run affair, Speier was facing the bottom of the lineup and there was nobody on. The situation doesn’t resemble some of the best outings turned in by others like Frasor and Chulk.
Worst Outing: April 6 vs. Devil Rays, Jays lost 8-5; -0.423
This was the same game that was described above where Frasor had his two most crucial batters of the month. Speier entered with Aubrey Huff on second and Travis Lee on first. Schoeneweis had failed to retire any of the four batters he faced, but the Jays were still ahead by one. However, by the time Speier was done the Rays would have the lead. Speier got three outs, but interspersed amongst those outs were an RBI single by Chris Singleton and a 3-run homer by Jorge Cantu.
Third Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Sammy Sosa (April 22 vs. Orioles); P Value: 0.184712; -0.093
Justin Speier had just allowed a home run to Melvin Mora to tie the game at five and then Miguel Tejada was safe on an error by Russ Adams. With the score tied and a runner on first with none out Sosa came up to bat. Sosa promptly singled, to compound the problems for Speier as now two were on with none out. The inning wouldn’t get any better as the Orioles scored six by the time it was all over and the O’s had a 10-5 lead.
Second Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Chris Singleton (April 6 vs. Devil Rays); P Value: 0.25257; -0.263
Singleton came to bat with one out and two runners on. The Jays were up by one and Singleton’s plate appearance was crucial. The Jays had about a 59% chance of winning the game at this point, as they did have the lead and the Devil Rays needed a hit to tie the game, as a fly ball would not do. Singleton smacked a single up the middle and drove home Huff. Lee advanced to second, and the Devil Rays had tied the game. This at-bat dropped the Jays percentage of winning to about 33%. It would drop to 3% when the next batter, Cantu, hit a three-run homer to put the Devil Rays up by 3 in the bottom of the eighth.
Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Nick Green (April 6 vs. Devil Rays); P Value: 0.392109; +0.135
Nick Green was the first batter Speier would face when he entered the game. There were none out and Huff was sitting on second and Lee on first. Green fouled out to first and suddenly things were looking a lot better. However, as described above, the Rays would put together a couple of key hits and win the game.
Game Opponent Result BF H ER BB K WP Credit April 8 Red Sox L 6-5 8 0 0 1 2 +0.066 April 11 Athletics W 10-3 6 1 0 0 1 +0.006 April 17 Rangers L 6-5 4 1 0 0 0 +0.026 April 18 Red Sox L 12-6 5 2 0 0 0 -0.007 April 21 Yankees L 4-3 4 1 0 0 2 +0.063 April 22 Orioles L 13-5 8 3 3 0 1 -0.009 April 26 Devil Rays W 7-5 4 1 0 0 1 +0.093 April 28 Devil Rays W 7-4 4 0 0 0 2 +0.119 April 30 Yankees L 4-3 5 2 1 2 0 -0.369
April WPA Total: -0.006
Average P Value: 0.042755
Best Outing: April 28 vs. Devil Rays, Jays won 7-4; +0.119
In this game Chulk came on in the seventh with the Jays winning 5-3. There were two out and the Rays had a runner on first with Carl Crawford up to bat. Chulk got Crawford to line out to Reed Johnson in left. He came out for the eight inning with the score still 5-3. Chulk retired Julio Lugo on a pop out and then struck out Aubrey Huff and Travis Lee. It helped Chulk’s score that pitchers get 100% of the credit on strike outs and easy pop outs.
Worst Outing: April 30 vs. Yankees, Jays lost 4-3; -0.369
This was the game that Tiger Wang and David Bush battled through seven apiece giving up three runs each. Frasor pitched a scoreless inning and Chulk came into pitch the ninth and hopefully send the game into extra innings. Two singles and two walks later and the Yankees had won the game. Chulk entered a game that was tied in the bottom of the ninth and obviously, you can’t get much of a higher-leverage situation than that. As a result of that, all three of the most crucial at-bats Chulk had in the month were in this game.
Third Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Andy Phillips (April 30 vs. Yankees); P Value: 0.2185; +0.045
Phillips came up to bat with Alex Rodriguez on first base. Chulk had walked A-Rod and now the winning run sat on first base with none out. Torre, knowing that one run wins the game, called for the sacrifice bunt with his seventh hitter at the plate. Tino, a left-hander, stood in the on-deck circle and Jorge Posada was on the bench, available as a pinch-hitting option. Phillips dropped a ball right in front of the plate that did not travel very far at all. With a heads-up plate Zaun ripped off his mask and threw the ball to second to just get a speedy A-Rod at second base. As such, although there were 75 points available, I assigned 30 to Zaun for his intelligent play and strong throw to get the force at second.
Second Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Jorge Posada (April 30 vs. Yankees); P Value: 0.3275; -0.009
Phillips advanced to third on a single by Tino Martinez. The Yankees had one out and the winning run was on third base in the bottom of the ninth. The Jays could try to induce a pop out, strike out or a double play from Posada, but a sac fly or any sort of hit would have lost the Jays the game. As such, the Jays decided to set up a force at any base by intentionally walking Posada and that’s exactly what Chulk did.
Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Tony Womack (April 30 vs. Yankees); P Value: 0.335; -0.165
Womack was up to bat with the sacks juiced and one out. The infield was drawn in and the outfield was playing a couple of steps shallow. Womack slashed a ball into right field and the Jays lost the game. Interestingly, the Jays still had a 16.5% chance of winning the game at this point, so it wasn’t as lost of a cause as many would think.
Game Opponent Result BF H ER BB K WP Credit April 4 Devil Rays W 5-2 2 0 0 0 1 +0.157 April 5 Devil Rays W 6-3 3 1 0 0 0 +0.015 April 6 Devil Rays L 8-5 4 3 4 1 0 -0.455 April 9 Red Sox W 12-5 4 1 0 1 1 -0.166 April 10 Red Sox W 4-3 1 0 0 0 0 +0.041 April 12 Athletics W 5-2 3 0 0 1 1 +0.046 April 13 Athletics L 6-3 4 1 0 1 0 -0.079 April 17 Rangers L 6-5 4 0 0 0 1 +0.076 April 21 Yankees L 4-3 5 1 0 1 1 +0.060 April 22 Orioles L 13-5 6 3 3 2 0 -0.303 April 26 Devil Rays W 7-5 1 1 0 0 0 -0.074 April 27 Devil Rays W 7-4 4 1 0 0 1 +0.019
April WPA Total: -0.605
Average P Value: 0.098953
Best Outing: April 4 vs. Devil Rays, Jays won 5-2; +0.157
Schoeneweis’ best outing came in the first game of the year. He entered the eighth inning of Halladay’s fine start with one on and none out. The Jays were winning 3-2. Schoeneweis came in to face the lefties and got Aubrey Huff to ground into a fielder’s choice. Travis Lee then struck out and the Jays brought in Miguel Batista to face Josh Phelps. The fact this outing was only two batters is a reflection of Schoeneweis’ relatively short stints in high-leverage situations, as he is used to neutralise lefties and pulling him for Phelps, who struggles against righties, makes sense.
Worst Outing: April 6 vs. Devil Rays, Jays lost 8-5; -0.455
Schoeneweis came on to start the eight inning of a game that the Jays were winning 5-2 to face Carl Crawford. Crawford promptly tripled after lacing one down the right field line. Speedy Joey Gathright hit an infield single to the mound. Aubrey Huff then doubled to bring in both Crawford and Gathright. With the potential tying run on second base Schoeneweis then walked Travis Lee to give the Rays runners on first and second with none out. They still had a shot at winning the game this game, but Schoeneweis had taken a game that the Jays had an 83.5% chance of winning and reduced it to a 45.7%. Escape was still possible, but when Justin Speier also had his worst game of the month in this match, a bullpen collapse gave the Devil Rays the game.
Third Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Jay Gibbons (April 22 vs. Orioles); P Value: 0.294272; -0.151
This was the date of a rough day for the Jays, as Mora had homered off Speier to lead off the inning. Tejada was safe on Adams’ error and Sosa singled and Speier was pulled for Schoeneweis. Schoeneweis got Palmeiro to ground to Hinske for the first out of the inning, and then the Jays intentionally walked Javy Lopez to set up the double play with Jay Gibbons up. However, Gibbons did not follow the Jays plans as he singled to drive home the sixth run for the Orioles and keep the bases loaded for Luis Matos. The next two batters for Baltimore singled as well and the game slipped away from the Jays.
Second Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Trot Nixon (April 9 vs. Red Sox); P Value: 0.29614; -0.014
In this game the Jays were winning 5-4, but the Red Sox were threatening with the sacks full and one out. Trot Nixon was up, and it was Schoeneweis’ last batter as there was little chance he’d be allowed to face Manny Ramirez in a key situation. Nixon grounded to Hinske, who could do little with the ball but take it to first. A run scored to tie the game and runners sat at second and third with two out. Frasor then came in to face Manny Ramirez and had his best outing of the month.
Most Crucial At-Bat of Month: Travis Lee (April 6 vs. Devil Rays); P Value: 0.328329; -0.062
As described in the section on Schoeneweis’ worst outings, Lee came up to bat with the Jays up by one and with a runner on second base. With none out, a second strikeout of Lee for Schoeneweis in the series would have been huge. Instead, Lee walked and Schoeneweis was pulled for Speier. Interestingly, this is the third different game for Schoeneweis in his three most crucial at-bats, which is a reflection of his short stints, as he’s often pulled against righties in key situations, and the fact that he’s used in most high-leverage situations against left-handed batters.
Based on this, I’ll conclude by showing a couple of charts that illustrate the effectiveness of the Jays relievers in April and their average P value, which indicates which relievers were used in which situation.
April Win Probability Scores
Reliever Win Probability Score Batista +0.242 Frasor +0.224 Walker +0.112 Chulk -0.006 Whiteside -0.018 League -0.087 Schoeneweis -0.605 Speier -0.687April Average P Values
Reliever Average P Values Schoeneweis 0.098953 Frasor 0.088824 Batista 0.057377 Chulk 0.042755 League 0.039848 Speier 0.035179 Walker 0.016024 Whiteside 0.001996
It’s interesting to see how much more critical the situations that Schoeneweis and Frasor faced are compared to those of Batista, Chulk, League and Speier. If the difference was smaller, I might attribute it to the fact that Schoeneweis’ appearances tend to be shorter, and thus there is less of a chance for him to face the less critical scenarios that Batista will face as he protects as a three-run lead with one out and none on in the ninth. However, the difference seems to be much larger and it doesn’t seem like that is a sufficient explanation. It appears as if Frasor and Schoeneweis are facing the important scenarios in the seventh and eighth innings, and that the explanation about Batista’s ability to go multiple innings and thus face important situations in the “pre-closer” innings has not been practiced by Gibbons so far. In April, if the Jays had important outs to get, most of the time they turned to Schoenweis for lefties and Frasor for righties or mixed lineups.
It’s a reflection on a relatively disappointing bullpen performance for April when it becomes clear that only three pitchers had positive contributions to make, and one of them was a long man who only pitched four times in the month. Speier, who was the presumed closer, had two terrible outings in April and Schoeneweis, who was used for the critical outs more than any other pitcher, had a dismal month.