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Movin' to the Pen; Are Jeff Niemann and Andy Sonnanstine Better Off In Relief?

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Upon reading Sean Smith's new post about the effect moving to the pen has on starting pitchers (h/t RJ), I decided to see how three of the most likely candidates to join the Rays pen would look as relievers. With the impending arrival of at least David Price (and maybe Wade Davis) and the hopeful goodbye to Troy Percival, there will be some open spots in the Rays bullpen. I would assume that to make room in the rotation one of Andy Sonnanstine or Jeff Niemann would make the move to the pen, and the possibility that Mitch Talbot could come up to jettison one of the underperforming members of the bullpen.

Follow the link to see how each of the three's stats from 2007-2009 as starters translate to their possible move to the pen.

Let's first start with the factors Smith finds on each pitcher's relevant statistics:

BB .99
SO 1.15
HR .87
HBIP .95

So a SP that moves to the bullpen can expect his BBs to decrease by 1%, his SOs increase by 15%, etc.

With this in mind, let's take a look at how each of the three's numbers change with a move to the bullpen.

Niemann

Raw

IP

HR

BB

IBB

HBP

K

aBB

aIBB

aHBP

aK

FIP

aFIP

Diff

2007 (AAA)

131

13

46

1

9

123

45.54

1

8.55

141.45

3.85

3.38

0.47

2008 (AAA)

133

15

50

0

6

128

49.5

0

5.7

147.2

4.00

3.51

0.50

2008 (MLB)

16

3

8

0

5

14

7.92

0

4.75

16.1

6.33

5.68

0.64

2009 (MLB)

16.6

3

7

0

1

9

6.93

0

0.95

10.35

5.91

5.42

0.49

296.6

34

111

1

21

274

109.89

1

19.95

315.1

4.17

3.67

0.49

Sonnanstine

Raw

IP

HR

BB

IBB

HBP

K

aBB

aIBB

aHBP

aK

FIP

aFIP

2007 (AAA)

71

8

13

0

2

66

12.87

0

1.9

75.9

3.44

2.96

0.48

2007 (MLB)

130.6

18

26

2

5

97

25.74

2

4.75

111.55

4.17

3.70

0.47

2008 (MLB)

193.3

21

37

2

5

124

36.63

2

4.75

142.6

3.95

3.56

0.39

2009 (MLB)

15.6

1

6

1

1

12

5.94

1

0.95

13.8

3.65

3.29

0.36

410.5

48

82

5

13

299

81.18

5

12.35

343.85

3.92

3.49

0.43

Talbot

Raw

IP

HR

BB

IBB

HBP

K

aBB

aIBB

aHBP

aK

FIP

aFIP

2007 (AAA)

161

13

59

0

10

124

58.41

0

9.5

142.6

4.00

3.61

0.39

2008 (AAA)

161

9

35

0

11

141

34.65

0

10.45

162.15

3.03

2.66

0.37

2008 (MLB)

9.6

3

11

0

1

5

10.89

0

0.95

5.75

9.97

9.24

0.73

2009 (AAA)

15

0

4

0

0

10

3.96

0

0

11.5

2.67

2.46

0.21

346.6

25

109

0

22

280

107.91

0

20.9

322

3.66

3.27

0.38

Since some of those are AAA innings, I decided to use Minorleaguesplits.com's MLEs to see how they compared. Somehow, they had different numbers for IP and stats for all of them. I know they are not right, but I am assuming they included MILB playoffs.

Niemann

Adjusted

IP

HR

BB

IBB

HBP

K

aBB

aIBB

aHBP

aK

FIP

aFIP

2007 (AAA)

143.7

18

67

1

9

116

66.33

1

8.55

133.4

4.78

4.30

0.48

2008 (AAA)

133.3

18

67

0

6

107

66.33

0

5.7

123.05

4.99

4.50

0.49

2008 (MLB)

16

3

8

0

5

14

7.92

0

4.75

16.1

6.33

5.68

0.64

2009 (MLB)

16.6

3

7

0

1

9

6.93

0

0.95

10.35

5.91

5.42

0.49

309.6

42

149

1

21

246

147.51

1

19.95

282.9

5.01

4.52

0.49

Sonnanstine

Adjusted

IP

HR

BB

IBB

HBP

K

aBB

aIBB

aHBP

aK

FIP

aFIP

2007 (AAA)

67.7

6

13

0

2

65

12.87

0

1.9

74.75

3.10

2.65

0.45

2007 (MLB)

130.6

18

26

2

5

97

25.74

2

4.75

111.55

4.17

3.70

0.47

2008 (MLB)

193.3

21

37

2

5

124

36.63

2

4.75

142.6

3.95

3.56

0.39

2009 (MLB)

15.6

1

6

1

1

12

5.94

1

0.95

13.8

3.65

3.29

0.36

407.2

46

82

5

13

298

81.18

5

12.35

342.7

3.87

3.45

0.42

Talbot

Adjusted

IP

HR

BB

IBB

HBP

K

aBB

aIBB

aHBP

aK

FIP

aFIP

2007 (AAA)

173.3

19

88

0

10

112

87.12

0

9.5

128.8

5.03

4.63

0.40

2008 (AAA)

163.3

9

67

0

11

121

66.33

0

10.45

139.15

3.87

3.53

0.34

2008 (MLB)

9.6

3

11

0

1

5

10.89

0

0.95

5.75

9.97

9.24

0.73

2009 (AAA)

16

0

5

0

0

8

4.95

0

0

9.2

3.14

2.98

0.16

362.2

31

171

0

22

246

169.29

0

20.9

282.9

4.55

4.18

0.37

As you can see, Niemann benefits the most from a move to the pen. You really can't go wrong no matter what though, except keeping crappy relievers I guess.