Tommy Bennett is one of my favorite new writers around. He’s not the most mathematically skilled teacher or the greatest composer of fluid prose, but on a daily basis he’s above average, entertaining, and informative. With that in mind, I’m going to borrow one of his talking points today. The Book taught us that relievers are often underused thanks to the restrictive workloads imposed by today’s managers. Bennett focused on streaks by relievers in which they recorded one or fewer days of rest and found multiple Braves near the top of the list.
Shockingly Pedro Feliciano – whom Amazin’ Avenue has illustrated almost never has a day off – wasn’t in the top 10. In fact, Feliciano’s longest streak is seven, but he also had a chain of six and five games. He’s pitched in 25 games without a day of rest; 19 with one; 10 with two; and 8 with three or more. To put it simply: Jerry Manuel works Feliciano really, really hard.
Feliciano is a lefty and a tad more than 60% of his batters faced have been southpaws too, so it’s fair to assume he’s brought in for match-ups quite a bit, but he still averages nearly three batters faced per appearance and only about 15 pitches per inning. A solid point that Bennett touched on is that nobody criticizes a manager for overtaxing his reliever until the reliever shows sign of distress. It’s true, when was the last time you read about Manager Y overworking Reliever X unless it came after a bombing?
During a five game streak in which he had zero off-days, Feliciano was horrible; 53 pitches, 2.2 innings, a walk, two strikeouts, and a home run. The kicker? Most of that damage came in the first four games: 30 pitches, 1.2 innings, the homer, all of the hits, none of the strikeouts or walks though.
A managerial staff not known for its astute sense in numbers had the foresight to ignore the previous four days, where it looked like Feliciano was tapped out, and called upon him once more as if his last name were Martinez and Jerry Manuel just knew that Pedro Martinez throwing left-handed on no rest was still better than whatever else they had in their pen.
Or maybe Manuel and company are just foolish. I ran Feliciano’s OPS numbers since 2006 based on days of rest. With none, his OPS against is .730; one day is .580; two days is .810. We’re dealing with some small sample sizes here (zero: 333 PA, one: 276 PA, two: 142 PA) but it looks like Feliciano is more than capable of pitching decently on short rest and the Mets are using him appropriately.
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