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Entries in Andrew Bailey (3)

Tuesday
Jun252013

Peter Gammons: MLB Sources Say...

The Future of Nolasco and Garza

The Giants have been in on Rickey Nolasco and Matt Garza. The Padres, have, as well, and one National League official thinks the Giants will act quickly with Miami and that the Padres will on Garza, as well. The Cubs, of course, know the Padres farm system well, since Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod turned that organization around. One chip might be former Boston number one pick Reymond Fuentes, a center fielder/leadoff hitter who is hitting .332 with a .419 on base percentage and .891 OPS with 23 stolen bases in Double-A San Antonio.

Wanted: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

There were more than 50 major league scouts and personnel people at Cuban refugee Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez’s start in Tijuana last Thursday, and he impressed. “The Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers may have seen every one of his workouts or outings,” says one GM. He has been cleared by MLB, but still has immigration paperwork to sift through, but something could happen quickly since most of the teams think he could pitch in the majors this season. The favorites? The Dodgers, of course. It was suggested to an official of one interested team that he should get his team to buy Key West and head off the Dodgers. His reply? “It might not be enough to beat L.A.”

Back in the Game

There is considerable speculation throughout the game that Andy MacPhail is willing to come back in a baseball operations role after a year-and-a-half out of the game. MacPhail’s tenure in Baltimore is a major reason for their rebirth. He got Adam Jones and Chris Tillman for Eric Bedard. Koji Uehara got Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter. He got J.J. Hardy for nothing, drafted Manny Machado and has two World Series rings from his Minnesota days.

The Mets Next Step

The injury to Lucas Duda and the recall of Ike Davis will just add to what will be a fascinating decision for the end of the Mets season. They know Duda can hit, but he is far more comfortable at first base than in the outfield, so if Davis doesn’t hit this time around, his tenure at Citi Field could be closed out. The Matt Harvey-Zack Wheeler leap has changed the franchise perception, but clubs that watch Noah Syndergaard in Port St, Lucie think he’ll be ready at this time next year, same for 22-year Rafael Montero, now in Las Vegas and joined by 22-year old power lefthanded reliever Jack Leathersich in Triple-A with 66 strikeouts in 35.2 minor league innings he may be on track for this season. With some of the vulnerabilities in the National League East, the Mets can get back into contention on power pitching, and rather than trade that young power pitching,  find a shortstop and a couple of outfielders on the free agent market.

Assets Secured in Philly

Granted, Jonathan Papelbon has blown four of his last five save opportunities, but Phillies GM Ruben Amaro continues to insist he’s not trading his closer, or Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels, not with an impending television deal. While the Tigers, Red Sox and Dodgers continue to look in the closer market, they have had no luck. The Twins have gotten a lot of calls on Glen Perkins, who has blossomed into an elite closer, but as one GM points out, “he’s from Minnesota and with the best farm system in the game, the Twins are going to turn it around quickly and Terry Ryan wants Perkins there when it happens.” Teams have called the Marlins about Steve Cishek, but they have him at the minimum for another season and need to hold leads for Jose Fernandez, Nate Eovaldi and Jacob Turner. The White Sox will move Jesse Crain in his walk year, and while Crain hadn’t allowed an earned run since April 12 (he allowed two unearned runs on June 23 when he picked up a blown save) the fact remains that he has four saves in ten major league seasons and clubs don’t have a history with him at the back end.

Boston almost at the mid-point

Andrew Bailey (Red Sox)“The problem with giving up a lot for a closer is that you don’t know how he fits in another team’s role, or that city,” says one GM. The Red Sox, of course, know all too well with the struggles of Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey. The latter simply hasn’t had the same stuff since returning from a disabled list stint due to a forearm strain and is back pitching earlier in games to try to regain velocity, movement and confidence. Franklin Morales’ velocity and stuff are down considerably from last year; he may never recover from his usage last season. So if they can’t find anyone on the market, they could turn to some of their young starters in the minors and give Brandon Workman (who some feel is a closer in waiting), Ruby De La Rosa and lefthander Drake Britton (95 MPH) hots in the ensuing weeks.

Boston is now home for 10 games with Colorado, Toronto and San Diego after a May 31-June 23 run in which they played 23 games against contenders (OK, the Angels are underachieving contenders) and went 12-11 with their bullpen strung out. Their starters went 9-7, 4.08 with 11 quality starts, and Alfredo Aceves, Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster were the only starters to win two games. Buchholz hasn’t pitched since June 8, Jon Lester has hit a patch and while they remain confident that Allen Webster will be a top-of-the-rotation starter, his two outings have not gone well. Thursday is the midpoint of the 2013 season, and, closer or no closer, if Buchholz and Lester don’t pitch as they have and can, they aren’t going to win the division.

Friday
Jun212013

M.I.A. Andrew Bailey's effective fastball

In 2009, Andrew Bailey was the AL Rookie of the Year coming out of Oakland A's bullpen.

  • That season he had 26 saves, a 0.876 WHIP, a 1.84 ERA, and 91 strikeouts in 83.1 IP.
  • His fastball averaged 94.2 mph, topping out 97.8. Batters went 15-for-101 (.149) off the fastball, with three doubles, one triple, and one homer. That fastball struck out 40 and walked 12.

  • Bailey tossed 576 fastballs of which 51.4% were in the zone.
  • Batters swung at 39.8% and missed on 32.3%.

Jump ahead to 2013

In 2013, Andrew Bailey was the closer coming out of Boston Red Sox bullpen.

Then he wasn't, when Joel Hanrahan got the gig.

Then he was, when Hanrahan got hurt.

Then he wasn't, after being effective in only one of his last five appearances.

  • This season he has eight saves, a 1.299 WHIP, a 4.03 ERA, and 30 strikeouts in 22.1 IP.
  • His fastball has averaged 94.0 mph (basically the same as 2009), topping out 96.8 (close to the same as 2009). Batters have gone went 12-for-48 (.250, .101 points higher) off the fastball, with one doubles, no triples, and five (!) homers. That fastball struck out 13 and walked 10(!).

  • Bailey has tossed 260 fastballs of which 57.3% were in the zone.
  • Batters swung at 47.7% and missed on 21.8%.

All this shows that Bailey is getting nowhere near the same location and movement on his fastball this season compared to when he was successful despite having the same speed.

The X-factor

So what is the x-factor that has made the fastball so ineffective?

Bailey's cutter.

You need to look under the hood to really see the problem with Bailey's cutter because if you just look at his BAA you will be misled.

Batters are hitting .185 this season compared to .197 in 2009.

But check out the differences in the Bailey's cutter

The most obvious difference between these two heat maps is that you can see how far out of the zone Bailey's cutters are this season. 

How big a difference in the location is there?

  • 2009: 72.2% cutters in the zone
  • 2013: 60.9% cutters in the zone 
  • 2009: Batters chased 38.7% of the cutters when they swung
  • 2013: Batters chased 28.3% of the cutters when they swung 

As a result:

Batters who swung at 58.6% of Bailey's 2009 cutters are only swinging at 41.7% of the 2013 cutter...and they are sitting on Bailey's fastball.

And come closing time, Bailey is now sitting as well.

Tuesday
Jun182013

B.Chuck: Boston should be worried about their pitching

As I pointed out yesterday, the Red Sox revival this season has more to do with John Farrell's magic with getting the most out of timely hitting and good clubhouse chemistry than with his presumed talents with a pitching staff. 

  • The Red Sox are seventh in the league with a team ERA of 3.84.
  • Their starters are fourth in the league with a 3.79 ERA and their bullpen is 11th in the AL with a 3.94 ERA. 

But perhaps what should be most disconcerting for Red Sox Nation is there is no indication that the pitching staff is getting better.

Split W L W-L% ERA SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
April/March 18 8 .692 3.58 8 231.0 191 97 92 26 97 255 1.247 9.9 2.63
May 15 15 .500 4.00 3 265.2 260 131 118 32 108 249 1.385 8.4 2.31
June 9 6 .600 3.95 2 136.2 136 62 60 21 55 115 1.398 7.6 2.09
April/Mar,GS 15 4 .789 3.24 0 158.1 131 62 57 15 66 170 1.244 9.7 2.58
May,GS 9 13 .409 4.15 0 177.2 168 93 82 23 73 155 1.356 7.9 2.12
June,GS 7 4 .636 4.03 0 89.1 93 41 40 16 32 68 1.399 6.9 2.13
April/Mar,GR 3 4 .429 4.33 8 72.2 60 35 35 11 31 85 1.252 10.5 2.74
May,GR 6 2 .750 3.68 3 88.0 92 38 36 9 35 94 1.443 9.6 2.69
June,GR 2 2 .500 3.80 2 47.1 43 21 20 5 23 47 1.394 8.9 2.04
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 6/18/2013.

A look at the numbers

When you look at the numbers for the pitchers, you can sense that it's pretty amazing that this is a first-place ballclub.

  • With 171 bases on ball, Sox starters have a significant lead in issuing walks over any other group of starters in the majors.
  • With 7142 pitches, Sox starters have thrown more pitches than any other group of starters in the majors, yet they are 10th in the majors in innings thrown.
  • Sox relievers are 10th in innings pitched in the AL with 208.0, but are 11th in ERA in the AL and 13th in WHIP with 1.365.
  • Slugging average against starters is .403, tied for third in the AL and while the slugging against the relievers is .403, that's only good for 13th in the AL.
  • The strikeout to walk ratio is 2.30 for starters (10th in the AL) and 2.54 for the bullpen (6th in the AL).
  • FYI: The Sox pitchers have issued eight bases-loaded walks this season, the most in the majors.

Let's look at some individual numbers 

  • Clay Buchholz is having a Cy Young season: he's 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA. He has pitched brilliantly when he's been out there. Buchholz has made 12 starts, missing three so far and we await news as to whether he is going on the DL. Since the start of 2010, Buchholz has made 83 starts, while teammate Jon Lester has made 111.
  • Lester is a whole other set of issues. In his first nine starts, Lester was 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA. In his last six starts, he is 0-4 and a 7.20 ERA. Lester with 1627 pitches thrown, has tossed more than any other pitcher in baseball, but his 94.7 IP is good for only 15th in baseball. Lester is around the strike zone, he has 69 full counts, the most in baseball, but his 135 foul balls when the batter has two strikes on him is indicative of his inability to finish off an at bat.
  • Despite his 4-5 record, John Lackey has been a pleasant surprise rebounding well from two bad seasons and Tommy John surgery. He has a 3.08 ERA but has a not very impressive 1.212 WHIP.
  • Of course, Lackey's WHIP looks better when you compare it to Ryan Dempster's 1.332 and Felix Doubront's 1.895, who have ERAs of 4.21 and 4.445 respectively, if not respectfully. 

Let's go to the bullpen

  • With the relief corps being used frequently, the Sox bullpenners Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara have each appeared in over 30 games already this season.
  • Andrew Bailey is the full-time closer now that Joel Hanrahan's Red Sox career is probably finished due to injuries. Each season Bailey seems to battle injuries as well. He has been successful in eight-of-10 save attempts. He's had seven-of-22 appearances in which he has not allowed a baserunner. 
  • As a frame of reference, Joe Nathan has had 15-of-30 appearances without allowing a baserunner and Jason Grilli is 17-of-33.

Reason to be concerned

The deeper you look at the pitching (and this was just a glance) for the Red Sox, the more you need to be concerned.

Thus far, the Red Sox timely hitting has carried the team. Having said that, the average team BABIP is .296 and the Red Sox have the highest team BABIP in baseball at .332.

How lucky is that hitting?

Well, in 2008 the Texas Rangers had a .325 BABIP and in 1997, the Red Sox had a .325 batting average for balls in play, the Twins had a .325 BABIP in 1996, the highest numbers in the last 20 seasons.

All of which makes you think that if the Sox don't start getting luckier or better on the mound, the Orioles and Rays and maybe even the Yankees and the Jays will be making the AL East and Wild Card races very close and Red Sox Nation very nervous.