Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Perils in Bullpen Management

Francisco Cruceta has now been a disaster in each of his last two appearences when he was brought into tight spots late in the game. Zach Miner, despite his struggles, has been used in tight spots.

Baseball Prospectus calculates a statistic for relievers called leverage, which gives an idea of the importance of the situations when relievers are brought into the game. I've compared the opposing OPS of each reliever (disregarding Bazardo and Willis) to their leverage.

Francisco Cruceta .819 1.02
Freddy Dolsi .650 0.85
Todd Jones .758 0.85
Zach Miner .724 0.82
Denny Bautista .737 0.80
Bobby Seay .721 0.80
Jason Grilli .712 0.74
Aquilino Lopez .638 0.65
Francis Beltran .967 0.63
Clay Rapada .603 0.55

Yikes. It almost looks like an inverse relationship. Rapada and Lopez have done the most mop-up work (Lopez just blew it in the ninth as I type this), despite being the most effective relievers. Meanwhile, Cruceta has struggled and has continually gotten the ball in tight spots. In graphical form:

The positive correlation coefficient scares the crap out of me. That means the higher a player's OPS allowed, the higher the leverage of the average situation they are brought into the game. Jim Leyland needs to do a better job managing this bullpen, even if he doesn't have all of his horses.
Update: I just saw Bonderman was pulled after 83 pitches! While hindsight is 20/20, you do not bring Cruceta into the game in this situation after the way he pitched last time out. It's simply the latest in a frustratingly long list of horrible decisions.

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