MLB Handicapping and Betting: The Bullpen Report
by Aaron Smith - 8/6/2013
It’s very difficult to have a good baseball team without a good bullpen. The bullpen is counted on to put up zeroes in the most important part of the game. A team that has a bullpen that is unreliable is highly unlikely to be successful over the long run.
It should come as no surprise that four of the five teams on the good side of the bullpen report this week are in the thick of the playoff race. At the same time, all five teams in the Bottom 5 of the bullpen report aren’t even close to contending for a playoff spot.
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 July 31 and Aug. 5.
Top Five Bullpens (Listed by ERA)
-Atlanta Braves (2.44 ERA) The Atlanta Braves have won 11 straight games. Not surprisingly, the Braves have extended their lead in the best bullpen ERA race by quite a bit during the past couple weeks. Atlanta has multiple guys they can count on to bring in during difficult late-game situations. Craig Kimbrel is arguably the most dominant closer in baseball. Luis Avilan, Dan Carpenter, and Jordan Walden have all been great. This bullpen is nothing short of tremendous. Opponents have hit only 16 home runs against this bullpen in more than 317 innings.
-Kansas City Royals (2.88 ERA) The Kansas City Royals have won 14 of their last 17 games. During this time, the Royals bullpen has been absolutely lights out. Kansas City has been in the Top 5 all year, but they have never been this high on the report. The Royals as a whole have been very streaky, but their bullpen has been consistently good all season. Luke Hochevar has found a niche in the bullpen after struggling as a starter for many years.
-Pittsburgh Pirates (2.94 ERA) The Pirates still have the best record in baseball, but their bullpen has slipped a bit in the last couple weeks. It really shouldn’t be a surprise that they have struggled since closer Jason Grilli is on the disabled list. Grilli is making progress in his recovery, but there is currently no timetable on his return. Mark Melancon is currently filling in at the back of the bullpen. Melancon has a brilliant 0.86 ERA so far this year.
-Oakland Athletics (2.99 ERA) Oakland has been just outside the Top 5 for most of the season, but they have entered the Top 5 with some great work over the last couple weeks. The Athletics bullpen has allowed only 94 walks in 322 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting just .225 against this group. Bullpen depth is a major plus for this team.
-Milwaukee Brewers (3.00 ERA) Milwaukee is the one bad team on this side of the bullpen report. Francisco Rodriguez was perfect as the team’s closer, but he is now in Baltimore. Jim Henderson will now take over the closer role once again. It will be interesting to see if this team can stay in the Top 5 now that Rodriguez isn’t closing out their games.
Bottom Five Bullpens (Listed by Worst ERA)
-Houston Astros (5.12 ERA) Who else would it be? Barring some miraculous improvement by the Astros or some absolutely ridiculous meltdown by one of the other bullpens on this list, Houston should finish the year with the worst bullpen in baseball. Opponents are hitting .278 against the Astros. Houston’s bullpen has also walked 158 batters, which is 12 more than the second-worst mark in all of baseball.
-Seattle Mariners (4.63 ERA) Seattle’s epic meltdown last week in Boston cost a lot of bettors some serious money. Allowing six runs in a single inning is always a surprise, but those who read this report each time it is released know that the Mariners bullpen is prone to blowing leads. Seattle has 14 blown saves this year. This is a very young bullpen, and they seem to have trouble getting that crucial out when it is needed the most.
-Philadelphia Phillies (4.29 ERA) The Phillies bullpen just got a little worse this week. Antonio Bastardo was one of the 12 players suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball because of his part in the Biogenesis scandal. Bastardo was one of the few relievers who has pitched well for the Phillies in 2013. Jonathan Papelbon has now blown six of his 26 save opportunities.
-Chicago Cubs (4.21 ERA) The Chicago Cubs have converted just 27 of their 50 save opportunities overall. After starting out great with the Cubs, Kevin Gregg has blown two of his last five opportunities. The Cubs middle relievers have been terrible all year. Finding someone to consistently get outs in the seventh and eighth innings should be a high priority for this team.
-Los Angeles Angels (4.13 ERA) The Angels got rid of their most consistent bullpen pitcher at the trading deadline. Scott Downs had been the one reliable middle reliever for the Angels, but he is now a part of the amazing Atlanta Braves bullpen. Los Angeles has been a major disappointment in every aspect of the game, and the bullpen deserves its fair share of the blame.
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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