MLB Handicapping and Betting: The Bullpen Report
by Aaron Smith - 8/20/2013
The bullpen disasters just keep coming as we move closer to the end of 2013. So many bettors have been burned multiple times by the back of a bullpen absolutely melting down and blowing a big lead.
While you are never going to be able to completely avoid the bullpen meltdowns, by doing your research and seeing which teams are prone to this blowups you can be on the right side more often than not. As bad as it feels to lose a game because of a bullpen disaster, it feels terrific to be on the winning side. The MLB Bullpen Report aims to help you be on the right side with this important information. Past history is generally a good future indicator when it comes to bullpens.
Doc’s Sports is always looking to give you extra information to help you win. This MLB Bullpen Report will allow us to take a look at the best and worst bullpens in the majors so far in 2013. We’ll take a look at the best and worst bullpens every couple weeks this year. Please note that statistics used in this report are for games played between March 31 and Aug. 19.
Top Five Bullpens (Listed by ERA)
-Atlanta Braves (2.40 ERA) It seems like a pretty safe bet that the Atlanta Braves will finish the regular season with the best bullpen ERA in baseball. This group has been at the top all year long, and I see no reason to expect that to change anytime soon. Craig Kimbrel has been locking down games like a machine of late. This team seems to have an endless supply of high-quality middle relievers.
-Kansas City Royals (2.71 ERA) It’s no coincidence that the Royals bullpen has been lights out at the same time the team has made a big run. Kansas City is 19-8 in their last 27 games, and it has been great work by the pitching staff that has led the way. Greg Holland has converted 34 of his 36 save opportunities this year. Luke Hochevar has found a niche in bullpen. There are a lot of hard throwers in this pen.
-Pittsburgh Pirates (2.83 ERA) The Pirates bullpen is holding its own right now, but they definitely aren’t as good without Jason Grilli holding down the closer spot. Mark Melancon is terrific, but he seems more comfortable in the setup role. Justin Wilson is throwing a lot of innings for a youngster. Can this bullpen continue to perform at such a high level?
-Oakland Athletics (2.96 ERA) Grant Balfour has quietly been one of baseball’s best closers in 2013. Balfour has 31 saves and just one blown save all season. Ryan Cook and Dan Otero have turned into reliable setup men to get the ball over to Balfour in the ninth. All three of these guys have an ERA below 2.00. Oakland has one of the deepest bullpens in baseball, which is a huge plus heading down the stretch.
-Milwaukee Brewers (2.96 ERA) Milwaukee is the one team on this side of the report that isn’t in the playoff race. This bullpen continues to surprise with their consistency. Brandon Kintzler is having a breakout season for this bullpen. Kintzler has some terrific movement on his fastball. Jim Henderson is getting comfortable in the role of the closer. Henderson has all the stuff necessary to be a good closer for many years.
Bottom Five Bullpens (Listed by Worst ERA)
-Houston Astros (5.24 ERA) There may be quite a bit of baseball left to play, but the Houston Astros bullpen can go ahead and be labeled as the worst in baseball for 2013. For one bullpen to be so much worse than the rest of the league really says something about how terrible this team is this season. There really aren’t any bright spots here.
-Seattle Mariners (4.65 ERA) Seattle has actually been better than expected offensively, but their bullpen has kept them from being competitive. The Mariners have lost 10 games on walk offs by their opponent, the most recent of which was Monday night in Oakland. Tom Wilhelmsen is in Triple-A trying to get his mechanics straightened out. Danny Farquahr has blown three of his first ten save attempts.
-Los Angeles Angels (4.52 ERA) The Angels bullpen is getting worse at a frightening pace. This group wasn’t even in the Bottom 5 until two weeks ago, and now they aren’t far from being the second-worst bullpen in baseball. What happened here? The Angels as a team seem to be shutting it down for the season, and the bullpen is no different. Joe Blanton got sent to the bullpen, and he has been getting hit even harder than he did as a starter. Blanton’s ERA is now 6.03.
-Philadelphia Phillies (4.29 ERA) This entire bullpen has been a big disappointment this year. Jonathan Papelbon has blown six saves since June 1. Antonio Bastardo was one of the most reliable guys in this pen, but he was suspended in the Biogenesis scandal. Opponents are hitting .261 against the Phillies bullpen this season.
-Chicago Cubs (4.21 ERA) The Cubs don’t have much going for them this year, and the bullpen has been consistently bad all year. This bullpen has struck out just 288 batters all year, which is the smallest number of any bullpen in all of baseball. The Cubs have 24 blown saves, which is also the single worst mark of any bullpen in baseball. There’s nothing positive to say about this unit.
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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