MLB Handicapping and Betting: the Bullpen Report
by Aaron Smith - 6/25/2013
Not all bullpens are created equal. That is a massive understatement, and it is something that baseball bettors figure out very quickly. With some groups, you are almost surprised if they don’t blow the lead. Other bullpens are so steady and consistent that a bettor can rely on them to get the job done.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were on top of best bullpens list in our last installment, but they have fallen to sixth place with some recent bad outings. Justin Wilson and Jason Grilli have looked human of late, but the Pirates are still finding ways to win games.
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 June 24.
Top Five Bullpens (Listed by ERA)
-Atlanta Braves (2.77 ERA) The Atlanta Braves are back in a familiar position. They’ve had the top bullpen in baseball now for two straight seasons. Injuries are still a major concern here, but some young guys have come in and done a great job thus far for Atlanta. Opponents are hitting a league-worst .215 against the Braves bullpen. This bullpen has logged only 208 innings compared to the major league average of 231. For the good of the team, the starters need to continue to go deep into games and keep this bullpen fresh.
-Minnesota Twins (2.83 ERA) I continue to be very impressed with the Minnesota Twins bullpen. The Twins were in the bottom five bullpens in baseball all of last season, but they have really turned it around in 2013.The depth of the bullpen has been a major surprise, and Glen Perkins has fit in very well as the team’s closer. Unfortunately for Minnesota, the team is dead last in baseball in quality starts. This bullpen is working very hard right now!
-Kansas City Royals (2.92 ERA) Kansas City has a nice mixture of hard-throwing right-handers (Greg Holland and Aaron Crow) as well as left-handed specialists (Tim Collins and Bruce Chen). The entire Royals pitching staff has been light years better than anyone expected them to be this season. No bullpen has pitched fewer innings than this group. The Royals have logged only 188 innings this year.
-Toronto Blue Jays (2.95 ERA) There are several reasons why the Toronto Blue Jays were able to win 11 games in a row, but one huge reason was the improved work of their bullpen. Brett Cecil never proved himself as a starter, but he has found a home in the bullpen. Steve Delabar and Aaron Loup are putting up some great numbers this year as well. The Blue Jays bullpen has racked up 240 strikeouts already this year.
Milwaukee Brewers (3.02 ERA) It’s hard to not be stunned to see the Milwaukee Brewers on this side of the bullpen report. Milwaukee’s bullpen was a major problem in 2012, but they have really gotten their act together of late. Francisco Rodriguez is dominating batters the way he did a few years ago. He has a sparkling 0.59 ERA on the year.
Bottom Five Bullpens (Listed by Worst ERA)
-Philadelphia Phillies (4.68 ERA) Philadelphia leads the majors in quality starts, but their bullpen has been a major disappointment. Absolutely no one has been good in middle relief for this team, and even Jonathan Papelbon had a major meltdown late Monday night, which caused the team to lose to San Diego despite leading 3-0 going into the bottom of the ninth.
-Houston Astros (4.66 ERA) There may be plenty of surprises on this list, but it should come as no surprise to see the Houston Astros in this position. Houston just doesn’t have enough talent to compete in any area right now. At least six regulars out of this bullpen have an ERA of 4.40 or worse. It’s hard to imagine this team getting out of the wrong side of this report anytime this year.
-Seattle Mariners (4.50 ERA) The Seattle Mariners bullpen has been an absolute disaster this year. Eric Wedge expected this to be a major strength for the team, but it has turned into their biggest weakness. Tom Wilhelmsen has already blown five save chances this year, and his confidence seems to be completely gone. Stephen Pryor was throwing the ball great, but he is on the disabled list with an injury. Seattle is scrambling to find youngsters to try to plug in to this group.
-New York Mets (4.25 ERA) The Mets have been a mainstay on this side of the report. New York’s bullpen has converted 13 save opportunities and blown 10. They lack a dominating guy who can come in and get the big strike out when it’s badly needed. The Mets have just 178 strikeouts from their bullpen so far this year.
-Los Angeles Dodgers (4.15 ERA) The Dodgers bullpen has already blown 15 save opportunities in 2013. That’s precisely how a guy like Clayton Kershaw is only 5-5 despite having a brilliant 2.06 ERA this year. Pulling Brandon League and inserting Kenley Jansen was a move that should help stabilize this bullpen moving forward. Still, the Dodgers are going to need much more consistency from their middle relievers.
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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