Archive for Relief Pitchers

Bullpen Report: April 4, 2017

• Addressing the committees (again). Cam Bedrosian should be the closer for the Angels but Scioscia is calling it a committee for now. While one should be inclined to believe what the coach says, the other alternatives for saves are currently the oft-injured Andrew Bailey and the currently injured Huston Street. Even when Street returns, the chances of him pitching particularly well don’t seem particularly high. I would suspect this is an early season hedge by Scioscia and consider Bedrosian fairly safe for now, in spite of the dreaded committee tag.

Similarly in Oakland, the A’s might be running a committee approach after Santiago Casilla received the first save chance. Ryan Madson was originally our designated closer but he came on in the eighth to get Mike Trout, leaving Casilla to the ninth which is the kind of mix-and-matchup one would expect in a committee. While the Angels seem to be playing pretend, I’m calling the A’s an actual committee. Expect Madson to see the higher leverage situations not necessarily in the ninth inning (especially against righties) with Sean Doolittle and Casilla also in the mix.

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Mixing Fantasy & Reality: Velocities, Glasnow, Frazier, & May

With the season starting, new useful information will finally become available. Let me know if I can provide any hard to get information in which other analysts aren’t providing. I will continue trying to notice injured players, provide Quick Looks at new/suspect pitchers, give velocity updates, and prospect comparisons. Other writers can provide normal group-think information. Let me know where I can provide that early edge.

The principal shareholder in the Rays, Stuart Sternberg, discussed how finding and developing the new frontiers provides competitive advantages.

Maybe, Sternberg said, it’s by falling behind, taking a lead from companies that follow Starbucks into good locations, copy Apple electronics or make generic drugs.
“I think where the advantage for us is going forward — and it’s going to sound crazy — is to try to allow all, and I will say all, these other organizations to devote enormous resources, and that’s not just money but thinking, brain power and devotion, to things that will have very little payoff, while those resources, brainpower and money might be better spent somewhere else,” he said.

“You build it, you invest all the (research and development), you devote everything you can and like a drug company, I’ll do the generic version for nothing, and I’ll undersell you. And while you’re doing that, I’ll worry about some other stuff over here.

“Everything I’ve seen, it’s an arms race right now, and guys are using elephant guns to kill mosquitoes.”

No matter what the target, the Rays have to find a way to get back ahead.

“There’s always going to be new frontiers,” Bloom said. “If we don’t find them, somebody else will.”

Let me know which frontiers we can explore together.

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An Introduction to Fatigue Units: A New Method for Evaluating Workloads

Tom Verducci once wrote about how a 30% increase in innings pitched could lead to injury in young pitchers. Since he wrote that, many people have objectively determined that this is not the case (Carleton, 2013). Not all innings are created equally, and not all pitches put the same amount of stress on the human body.

As we have learned in many different ways that are not a lot of fun , both relief pitchers and starting pitchers can succumb to the effects of pitching (also read as, getting injured). This makes the Pitcher Abuse Point scale not appropriate for relief pitchers (see this article on Baseball Prospectus – (Jazayerli, 1998)). Other research has pointed to measures like innings pitched as being a poor determinant of workload in pitchers (Karakolis et al., 2016). Pitching on consecutive days, high velocities, and total pitches have been identified as risk factors for injury (Whiteside et al., 2016). Read the rest of this entry »

Mixing Fantasy & Reality: Spring Training Velocities, Gsellman, Davis, & Garrett

Spring Training Velocity Extravaganza

After my Tout Wars weekend, I found time to update the spring training velocities. Here are some pitchers seeing significant changes.

Cole Hamels

Hamels’s fastball average 91.5 mph on the 21st and down to 90.8 mph on the 26th. Last season it averaged 92.6 mph. I would be diving in more on Hamels but his velocity starts low every season.

While he starts slow, owners should closely monitor his velocity to make sure it starts ticking up.

Jake Arrieta

I am less optimistic on Arrieta. He is seeing a similar drop in velocity to Hamels at ~2.0 mph.

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Mixing Fantasy & Reality: Richards, Rosenthal, Giolito

Quick looks

3/15 games

I had full game information and write-ups on each of the following three pitchers but my computer did a restart and the information was lost. Here are the condensed versions from what I remember.

  • Lucas Giolito: He was a mess. His velocity is still down from his minor league reports by about 3 mph. He couldn’t throw his curveball near the strike zone. He only lasted 2/3rds of an inning with his replacement, Chris Beck, showing more promise. I am not rostering Giolito in any redraft league and recently traded Giolito for Reynaldo Lopez and Curtis Granderson in an industry 20-team dynasty league.
  • James Paxton: Looked similar to 2016. No issues here.
  • Cody Reed: Not ownable in redraft leagues. He throws, not pitches, with a low 3/4 arm angle which is devastating to lefties but righties can tee off on him (.131 ISO vs LHH, .385 ISO vs RHH in ‘16). Also, he can’t throw is his change for strikes (35% Zone%), so he will have issues keeping righties from waiting on the fastball. Now, if he can get ahead, his two breaking pitches, change and slider, can get some swings-and-misses so he’ll get some strikeouts. I can see the pieces which have scouts hoping but he has not put them together yet.

3/16 games Read the rest of this entry »

pERA Update From SABR Analytics Presentation

This past Thursday, I spoke at the SABR Analytics conference on my per pitch valuations (pERA).  I originally created them to form an understandable framework for comparing prospect pitching grades and major league results. Some byproducts of the work became useful like the effects of dropping a pitch. Today, I will make available new information I provided at the conference.

For the readers who aren’t familiar with the original work, it can be read in its 2500 word entirety in this previous article. Here is a summary.

  • The key is to give each pitch an ERA value (pERA) based on the pitch’s swinging strike and groundball rates. All the values are based on the average values for starting pitcher. Closers will have higher grades because their stuff plays better coming out of the bullpen.
  • The pitcher’s control is determined from their walk rate which is separate from the pitch grades.
  • Each pitch is placed on the 20-80 scale with 50 being average, 80 great, and 20 horrible.

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Pitchers: Whose Stats Underachieved?

Luck, as Branch Rickey famously observed, is the residue of good fortune, and it seems to us that a lot of what we Fantasists do amounts to determining who’s been lucky and who hasn’t. This is the stock-in-trade of one genre of preseason Fangraphs article that we, for two, are suckers for: Player A, the article will assert, had bad (or good) Fantasy-relevant numbers last season, but a massage of those numbers or an examination of more granular stats suggests that his performance wasn’t as bad as (or was worse than) his Fantasy outcomes.

The closer look or the more granular stats, the article will continue, reflect the guy’s true performance, whereas the Fantasy numbers are artifactual, and largely produced by the guy’s luck. Since luck evens out, the article will conclude, the guy will do better (or worse) than people who haven’t looked closely at the numbers think, and will be worth more (or less) than the market thinks he is.

One of our relatively accurate forecasts of our rather pitiful 2016 season derived from this approach. At mid-season, we opined that Danny Salazar (first half ERA: 2.75) would decline sharply thereafter, whereas Carlos Rodon (first half ERA: 4.50) would improve significantly. And so it turned out. We reached these conclusions by asking: which starting pitchers, if any, were in the highest (i.e. worst) quartile of Batting Average on Balls in Play and Home Run to Fly Ball Ratio, and in the bottom (i.e. best) quartile of Hard-Hit Ball Percentage?

And which starters, conversely, were in the lowest quartile of BABIP and HR/FB and the top quartile of HH%? Our reasoning wasn’t abstruse: if a guy’s not getting hit hard, and yet is giving up a disproportionate number of hits and home runs, maybe he’s been unlucky, and if his only problem is that he’s been unlucky, maybe his luck will change. And, on the other hand, maybe the luck of a guy who’s getting hit hard but doesn’t yet have the scars to show for it will run out. Read the rest of this entry »

2017 Ottoneu FGpts Rankings: SP/RP

We’ve been rolling through our ottoneu FanGraphs points league rankings. This year the rankings will include values from myself, Justin Vibber, and Chad Young. We are presenting our individual dollar values, the average of all three individuals, plus the ranking of that average. In addition the tables below include Ottoneu eligibility (5 games started/10 games played in the prior year). Players are ranked at their most valuable position, and the hierarchy we are using is C/SS/2B/3B/OF/1B (with 3B and OF being a coin toss in terms of replacement level, we chose to include 3B/OF eligibles at 3B).

Prior Rankings: C/1B/3B, 2B/SS, OF

Split – Difference from highest to lowest $ value
Otto.– Average price across Ottoneu FGpts leagues
AVG. – Average $ value from the four of us
(+/-) – Difference between Ottoneu average price and our average $ value

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February Rankings – Relievers

We’re going position by position this week and next with our initial roll out of rankings. We will update these in March based on Spring Training activity and injuries.

We’re using Yahoo! eligibility requirements which is 5 starts or 10 appearances. These rankings assume the standard 5×5 categories and a re-draft league. If we forgot someone, please let us know in the comments and we’ll make sure he’s added for the updates. If you have questions for a specific ranker on something he did, let us know in the comments. We can also be reached via Twitter:

There will be differences, sharp differences, within the rankings. The rankers have different philosophies when it comes to ranking, some of which you’re no doubt familiar with through previous iterations. Of course the idea that we’d all think the same would be silly because then what would be the point of including multiple rankers?! Think someone should be higher or lower? Make a case. Let us know why you think that. The chart is sortable. If a ranker didn’t rank someone that the others did, he was given that ranker’s last rank +1.


  • AVG– just the average of the seven ranking sets
  • AVG– the average minus the high and low rankings
  • SPLIT– the difference between the high and low rankings

Previous Editions:

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2017 Lottery Ticket Team: Pitcher’s Edition

This is not a “sleeper” list. Read the rest of this entry »