LIfe Ain't Easy Relievin' in the ALE


The injury to J.P Howell, slow recovery of Joaquin Benoit, and poor spring for Grant Balfour have led to great concern about the readiness of the Rays bullpen to compete in the American League East against the Red Sox and Yankees. Consider this a caution to subdue your innermost mob mentality at the first sign of bullpen failure. Below is a table featuring the past two seasons Rays, Sox, and Yankee relievers against the opposing two of the big three teams, and their numbers vs the rest of baseball. The numbers equal the difference between performance vs. the ALE  vs. the non-ALE. So a ERAd of 2.00 means the reliever has an ERA 2 runs higher vs the ALE than vs. the non-ALE. For K:BB ratio, a positive number is a good thing. Here is the table:

 

ERAd

FIPd

K:BBd

IP

Wheeler

3.02

2.38

1.00

24

Balfour

2.03

0.88

-1.05

27.7

Howell

-0.68

-0.15

-1.06

36.7

Rivera

1.68

-0.25

-1.67

31.3

Robertson

0.36

0.04

2.12

16.3

Papelbon

0.55

-0.45

0.13

27

Okajima

-0.10

-0.74

-0.41

27.7

Delcarmen

0.13

-0.17

-0.13

32.3

Average

0.87

0.19

-0.14

:

On average, these relievers have allowed .87 earned runs per game higher vs. the ALE. Sample sizes are fairly small, but JP Howell clearly has stood out from his Rays peers against Boston and New York. He will indeed be missed in this weekend's series.  Please recognize most relievers in general struggle against elite teams. Look no further than Rivera having an ERA 1.68 higher vs the Sox and Rays. If Sonnanstine gets taken deep by A-Rod, do not lose sight that Daniel Bard and Joba Chamberlain get taken deep too. To always blame the pitcher for giving up a key hit is unfair. Batter skill and defense are at play as well. If Pena takes Delcarmen deep, we are quick to give all praise to Pena, and are prone to ignore Delcarmen. Sometimes pitchers simply get beat.  If Balfour gets hit hard by JD Drew shouldn't the credit/blame be divided? One game in with three scoreless innings from the pen. Our four neighbors in the ALE all have registered a loss from their bullpens already this season.  Please keep in mind,  pitchin' ain't easy.

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