Here’s my review of the Rays Bullpen thus far:
Nothing too fancy, because frankly I don’t have the time, but here’s some ranks:
ERA: 27th (4.62)
FIP: 23rd (4.15)
xFIP: 25th (4.30)
SIERA: 28th (3.98)
WAR: 24th (0.0)
K%: 20th (20.7%)
BB%: 27th (10.9%)
Batting Avg: 22nd (.250)
Shutdowns 27th (13)
Meltdowns 17th (12)
The bullpen has pitched the equivalent of 7 games (62.3 IP) though I have no idea why in God’s name you would think of it that way.
It hasn’t all been bad, here’s how each of our pitcher’s fares in these marks:
Jamey Wright has been a nice bright spot though it would be nice if his strikeout and walk rates would diverge a bit more. Jake McGee has been pretty bad, while Ramos and Farnsworth join Jake in dragging down some otherwise not bad stat lines from the backbone of the pen. Peralta has pitched really well so far and it might be time to think of using him in more of a fireman role with his ability to get out both lefties and righties instead of waiting until the 8th when it might not matter any more. Rodney has single-handedly raised the earnings for the Pepto-Bismol parent corporation (PG), but if he could trim the walks we’d be happy with the rest. Brandon Gomes has shown strong peripherals, but that hasn’t quite translated to results, particularly in higher leverage and by handedness:
Some of that has been necessity as the last man standing in a late-running game, but it bears witness to one of the issues with this pen as currently constructed. Gomes should only be facing righties, but so should Farnsworth and Ramos should really only be facing lefties. These specialists are great to have, but redundancy is a huge issue when bench spots are a rare commodity. Here’s a look at each pitcher’s observed and regressed splits:
The “Split” column is the observed split and then to the right you will find these numbers regressed. Ramos, Gomes, and Farnsworth all have very wide splits. Anything over .10 and I start to look at that guy as a specialist. It helps that Rodney, Peralta, and Wright are all pretty neutral and Jake McGee actually shows a decently wide reverse-split, but I think this points to the decision that the Rays have to make. They need to pare down one right-handed specialist and I think it’s fairly obvious that that means it’s time to put Kyle Farnsworth out to stud.
His fastball is sitting around 90.5 MPH which has caused him to throw it less than half the time (44.8%) while ramping up his slider (37.3%) and cutter (16.4) to try to get by on guile rather than stuff. This has resulted in batters only chasing out of the zone 20% of the time (career of 25.7%) and making contact within the zone at a 96% clip (83.6% in career). His swinging strike rate is down to 6.8% (11.9% throughout long career) while filling up the zone (54.6%) both overall and first pitch (74.1%). Right now he looks like a guy that doesn’t have the fastball necessary to set up a slider and as he stated in this fantastic interview he’s never been able to develop a third pitch.
This should be a rational decision rather than an emotional one, but it’s time to pass the torch to a younger man that can get by on the fastball/slider combo that has been Farnsworth’s signature throughout his career. That man is Josh Lueke. Lueke has seen 60 batters at Durham this year and has struck out 40%, walked 8.3%, and has an average against of .164. His ERA/FIP sit at 1.20/.187, respectively. Using the incredibly useful addition of minor league gamelogs and splits over at B-Ref we can see that he’s been pretty good against both lefties and righties thus far and especially so when coming in with runners already on. The knock on Lueke last year was that he didn’t look ready as he appeared to be shitting his pants on the mound which left him unable to throw a strike. It appears that he’s learned how to control his bowels and would be a solid addition to a pen that could use a shot in the arm.