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Entries in relief pitching (3)


Dodgers Turnaround Part 2: Pitching

The other day, I kicked off this mini-series about the Dodgers by diving into the offense with regards to what has made them one of the best teams in the game this season.

Today, we move onto pitching.

The first part of the LA pitching season was ugly.

The starters were so-so

One would think that a Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke fronted rotation shouldn't have any problems performing well. And to a point, the starting rotation has not been overly bad. Kershaw will find himself in the middle of the Cy Young Award voting again this season. Greinke got off to a slow start, but also missed time with a broken collarbone thanks to Carlos Quentin.

The contribution that helped the most in the rotation at the beginning of the season, was that of Hyun-jin Ryu

Through the 21st of June, the Korean import's ERA of 2.96 trailed only Kershaw among Dodger starters. With a 21.2% K-rate and K/BB of 2.92, Ryu was making the Dodgers front office look brilliant for investing $61-plus million (Posting fee, $25+ million. Contract, $36 million) in the 26 year old left hander.

The starting rotation was around the middle of the pack in the NL in most categories.

But the bullpen, well...

Through June 21st, the bullpen's ERA was 13th in the National League. It's WHIP was 14th. It's OPS against was 13th. Slugging against, 12th. Do you catch my drift?

Of course, when any bullpen is doing terrible, all eyes look to the closer.

And as the closer, Brandon League was all kinds of not good during the first three months of the season.

League was 14/18 in save chances through late June, and got tuned up by opposing offenses who posted a slash line of .300/.352/.455 against him. Or roughly, Allen Craig-like. League's unsightly 5.14 ERA and 1.464 WHIP eventually got him demoted from the closer role. But as a team, the relief pitching blew 15 save opportunities through June 21st. It's easy to point and laugh at League's non-production, but the late innings were a mess for the Dodgers, and it nearly cost manager Don Mattingly his job.

But then came Kenley Jansen.

Yup, Kenley Jansen. Just your typical, run-of-the-mill, completely dominant closer. I would list the stats for Jansen, but I'd rather just stare at the stat table embedded below with you. We can clean each other's drool off of the table.

Jansen by the numbers
Kenley Jansen .181 .278 .228 5 0.817 37.3% 4.6% 1.98

The Curacao native has been nearly untouchable for the Dodgers throughout July and August, allowing only four earned runs and blowing one save in that time span. 

He may not have Mariano Rivera's cutter, But when you are using it 83.7% of the time, and the results above are what you are getting, it must be something special. 

Along with Jansen anchoring the back end of the bullpen, the rest of the Dodgers relievers have stepped in line to make sure that he gets the ball in the ninth inning. Well, except for League, his ERA since the team became ridiculous good is 4.96. Thanks for nothing, Brandon.

Ronald Belisario has appeared in 25 games since June 21st. His ERA over that span is 0.90. His WHIP is 1.000. Chris Withrow has appeared in 11 games and has an ERA of 1.59 with a WHIP of 0.765. J.P. Howell has an ERA of 0.52 and a WHIP of 0.981. In 24 games, Paco Rodriguez has an ERA of 0.47 and a WHIP of 0.569.

That's five relievers if you include Jansen who have a sub-2.00 ERA and WHIP's at 1.000 or below.

The game is over after four

As a unit the relief corp since June 22nd ranks first in the NL in ERA (2.67), first in WHIP (1.041), third in OPS against (.663) and their K/BB of 3.61 is pacing the NL as well. In theory, that means that every game where the Dodgers have a lead after four innings, should be nearly automatic, and starters could be used less.

But that would mean a lot less Kershaw and his 7-2 record. What's that? You think pitchers wins are silly too? How about an ERA of 1.40, a WHIP of 0.649 and a K-Rate of 25.5% to go along with his 7-2 record over his 10 starts since June 21st? I may have said it before, but just in case I haven't, Clayton Kershaw is good. Like, really really good. I could probably write about him everyday. 

And his number two, Zack Greinke, has been a legitimate number one. He's 8-1 over his last 11 starts to go along with a 2.25 ERA and 1.092 WHIP. A big money offseason signing that worked. I wish my team had one of those. 

The Dodgers are on a run where they are 42-9 since June 21st. 42-9! The Tampa Bay Rays were recently called the "hottest team in baseball." Their record since June 21st is 31-16. The Atlanta Braves just rattled off 14 consecutive wins. Their record? 32-16. 

No team can touch what the Dodgers have been doing for the last eight weeks.



How strong has the Red Sox pitching been?

Really, really, really strong

“Our pitching has been unbelievable,” Red Sox captain-in-waiting Dustin Pedroia said.

But believe it.

As I wrote in my piece on, Red Sox starters have not yet allowed more than three earned runs in a game this season.

The 2013 AL Starting Pitching 

As you mouse over the the teams, you realize that you want to be as far to the lower left-hand corner as possible. 

  • You don't want to be the Angels, whose starters have a 6.07 ERA and a 1.692 WHIP.
  • You don't want to be the Blue Jays, whose starters have a 5.92 ERA and a 1.608 WHIP.

But, you want to be the Tigers, whose starters have a 2.70 ERA and a 1.119 WHIP.

And, you want to be the Red Sox, whose starters have a 2.30 ERA and a 1.202 WHIP.

The 2013 AL Relief Pitching 

At this time of the year I am less concerned with the ERA of bullpens because of the small sample, but I am concerned with the number of innings thrown as that reflects short starts and could ultimately result in further wear and tear on the relievers. With relievers I always pay attention to WHIP.

On the chart above, you want to be in the lower left-hand quadrant, not the upper-right.

Royals fans have to be pleased that their bullpen has only had to throw 32.1 IP and been incredibly successful with a 1.113 WHIP.

The Astros bullpen introduction to AL has been less accomodating. They have already thrown 58.0 unproductive innings with a 1.517 WHIP.

Of major concern across the border has to be the Blue Jays bullpen which has been out there for 55.1 innings , with a 1.428 WHIP and having allowed 23 earned runs.

But the Red Sox pen has pitched 42.2 innings, their WHIP is 1.055, and they have allowed just 16 earned runs.

The bottom line is that the Braves today are the best team in baseball and their pitching staff has permitted just 25 ER, the Red Sox are next on the list having permitted only 37 ER.

The formula for succcess

It's a long season, but forget all the talk about chemistry, the game is about pitching and if you pitch well, you will do well and so far that's the Boston formula for success.


Phillies Spell Relief

Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge shut the door on the Giants and gave Phillies fans reason to look forward to a Game 6. The pitch log and stats speak for themselves. Strong relief pitching.

Scope: Relief Pitching for the Phillies in the 8th and 9th Inning of Game 5 of the 2010 NLCS.

Ryan Madson
Plate Appearances: 3
Pitches: 13 
Pitch Types: fastball(5), changeup(1), slider(7) 
Strike Rate: 76.9%
Strike Outs: 3
Contact Rate: 33.3.%
Hits: 0 

  • Buster Posey strikes out swinging.
    Vs Buster Posey (R), Bottom 8, 0 out, Bases Empty, leading 3-2
    • 0-0 - Ball on a 91 MPH Changeup - Over the Plate
    • 1-0 - Ball on a 89 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
    • 2-0 - Strike Looking on a 93 MPH Fastball - Over the Plate
    • 2-1 - Strike Looking on a 93 MPH Fastball - Over the Plate
    • 2-2 - Foul on a 93 MPH Fastball - Inside
    • 2-2 - Strike Out on a 91 MPH Fastball - Inside
  • Pat Burrell strikes out swinging.
    Vs Pat Burrell (R), Bottom 8, 1 out, Bases Empty, leading 3-2
    • 0-0 - Strike Swinging on a 90 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
    • 0-1 - Foul on a 95 MPH Fastball - Over the Plate
    • 0-2 - Strike Out on a 90 MPH Slider - Outside
  • Cody Ross strikes out swinging.
    Vs Cody Ross (R), Bottom 8, 2 out, Bases Empty, leading 3-2
    • 0-0 - Ball on a 90 MPH Slider - Outside
    • 1-0 - Strike Looking on a 89 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
    • 1-1 - Strike Looking on a 89 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
    • 1-2 - Strike Out on a 90 MPH Slider - Over the Plate

Brad Lidge
Plate Appearances: 3
Pitches: 10 
Pitch Types: fastball(2), slider(8) 
Strike Rate: 50%
Strike Outs: 1
Contact Rate: 66.7%
Hits: 0 

  • Pablo Sandoval flies out to right fielder Jayson Werth.
    Vs Pablo Sandoval (L), Bottom 9, 0 out, Bases Empty, leading 4-2
    • 0-0 - Ball on a 81 MPH Slider - Low
    • 1-0 - Strike Looking on a 81 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
    • 1-1 - Fly Ball Out on a 81 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
  • Juan Uribe grounds out, shortstop Jimmy Rollins to first baseman Ryan Howard.
    Vs Juan Uribe (R), Bottom 9, 1 out, Bases Empty, leading 4-2
    • 0-0 - Strike Looking on a 80 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
    • 0-1 - Ground Ball Out on a 91 MPH Fastball - Over the Plate
  • Travis Ishikawa strikes out swinging.
    Vs Travis Ishikawa (L), Bottom 9, 2 out, Bases Empty, leading 4-2
    • 0-0 - Ball on a 90 MPH Fastball - Low
    • 1-0 - Strike Looking on a 81 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
    • 1-1 - Ball on a 82 MPH Slider - Low
    • 2-1 - Strike Looking on a 82 MPH Slider - Over the Plate
    • 2-2 - Strike Out on a 83 MPH Slider - Over the Plate

Video of Brad Lidge's save provided by