Bullpen Part Two
Yesterday we discussed that one of the big reasons for the Mets’ second-place finish was the gross mismanagement of the bullpen.
Well I have some new numbers for you, further proving that the Mets’ bullpen was the most overworked in the National League.
I think we can all be in agreement that the Mets top nine relievers — as far as innings pitched — are as follows:
The numbers don’t lie; above were the nine most-used relief pitchers in the Mets bullpen in 2007. The next guy on the list, by the way, is Willie Collazo, who pitched less than six innings.
The next table lists the total number of relief innings pitched by each team, the number of innings pitched by the top nine relievers on that team, and the percentage of the total innings that the top nine pitched. I hope that makes sense.
In other words, the Mets’ top 9 guys — the ones you see above — accounted for 95% of the total innings pitched in relief by Mets pitchers in 2007. I tallied up the numbers to find the percentages for every other NL team, as a comparison.
See for yourself:
Some interesting things jump out here. First of all, the team that came in second to the Mets on this list — the Diamondbacks — had nine guys who threw 93% of their team’s relief innings … but, it was a lighter workload than the Mets’, by nearly 40 innings. The third team, the Padres, would appear to have whipped their top nine nearly as hard as the Mets’ relievers — as they handled 90% of the workload and pitched nine more innings. The Astros also were at 90%, but like the D’Backs had a lighter load to bear. The rest of the NL was under 90%.
And who do we see at the bottom of the pile but the Phillies — who needed to cover 8 more innings of relief than the Mets, but did a much better job of sharing the load. After seeing these numbers, it’s not so surprising that the Philadelphia bullpen was lights-out for most of September — they were well rested!
In addition, I took this study one step further, and eliminated two pitchers from the bottom. So from the Mets, that would be Jorge Sosa and Ambiorix Burgos. And you know what? The Mets top seven most-used relievers — Heilman, Wagner, Feliciano, Mota, Schoeneweis, Sele, and Smith — handled over 85% of the total relief innings pitched by the Mets. That would still put them just behind the Dodgers, at #7, in comparison to everyone else’s top 9 (the next-closest “top 7” were also the D’Backs and the Padres).
Look at those Phillies again, at the bottom. A stark contrast to the Mets’, eh?
Hopefully someone in the Mets organization is also taking note of this trend in relief pitching. To reiterate, establishing specific people with bullpen roles and expecting them to fulfill those roles from game 1 through 162 is suicide. There are simply too many innings to cover over that span, which require at minimum 9-10 arms that can share the load. The teams that stockpile the highest-quality arms — and/or can squeeze the most innings out of their starters — will be less susceptible to breakdowns in the last weeks of the season.