This was the worst week of the season for the bullpen and unsurprisingly it was the week in which they were the most taxed. With Gary Glover and Al Reyes both on the DL, the team has been turning towards other pitchers for some support. As you can see, the bullpen threw over 20 innings including three days of 70+ pitches.
The best pitcher in the bullpen this week was by far Kurt Birkins. Birkins didn't allow any runs over six innings and provided help in four separate games. The most impressive thing Birkins has shown is that he is capable of working quick innings and keeping his pitch count down. Through six innings pitched he averaged a little over 13 pitches per inning. One of the biggest improvements he has made thus far from last season has been his ability to not allow line drives. His LD% this season is a amazing 4.3% compared to last season's atrocious 23.1%. While this is still a small sample size, Rays fans must be happy with what they have received from the southpaw up to this point.
If Birkins was the best pitcher this week, then Scott Dohmann must have been the worst. Dohmann allowed five runs in three innings of work, and one would expect he would be the first person kicked out once Glover or Reyes are available.
Troy Percival kept his stat-line clean with his save and one inning of work. However, the Rays have continued to show that they will only be using him in save situations. It will be interesting to see how he is used for the rest of the season, and whether he would be brought in during games when we are losing by one run in the ninth.
One thing to keep a close eye on over the next week or two is the performance of Jason Hammel. Sometimes making the transition from starter to the bullpen can be difficult, but the Rays will most likely remain patient either way since he is out of options.