We’ve reached the end. After looking over the Rays infield, outfield, and starting pitchers, let’s finish up with the one stat that defines each arm in the Rays bullpen. There’s been a lot of turnover in the Rays pen this season, but it looks like a solid crew right now.
Alex Colome - June 20 - July 4
Yes, I am aware that dates are not statistics, but over that two week stretch, Colome gave up 10 runs in 5.0 innings - more than half the earned runs he has given up for the season as a whole (19). Outside of that one five-game stretch, Colome has an ERA of 1.74 for the season.
Now, all relievers can benefit greatly from the removal of just a few of their rough outings, such is the small sample size nature of their work. However, it seems more telling for Colome given that these five struggles all came in a row, and he has been excellent outside of that one two-week unraveling. Even within that worst part of his 2017 season, he converted three saves, and he is 34-for-39 on the season, good for an 87 percent save rate that basically matches the seemingly-bulletproof Craig Kimbrel (87.5 percent).
Every team’s fan base is more worried about their own closer than they should be, it’s the nature of fandom. The Rays have a good one with Colome, and one who has been outstanding outside of a late June/early July swoon.
Tommy Hunter - Home run per flyball rate
Hunter has been arguably the best reliever in the Rays bullpen this season, and only Colome has made more appearances out of the pen for Tampa Bay in 2017 than Hunter. His 1.58 ERA is by far the best on the team, and his FIP (2.39) suggests he’s been nearly as good as his ERA implies (this does not include his Sunday outing).
The biggest difference for Hunter this year has been his ability to keep the ball in the yard. Despite major league baseballs flying out of stadiums across the league like golf balls, Hunter has posted one of the lowest HR/FB rates of his career in 2017, with a paltry 6.7 percent of fly balls leaving the yard. Somewhat miraculously, the only season in which Hunter had a lower HR/FB rate was last season - Hunter is basically looking to Elevation Revolution right in the eye and laughing at it.
Hunter has done a good job of limiting both hard contact and fly balls this season, so I’m not sure it can entirely be chalked up to a run of good luck, either. Hunter may be due for a bit of regression on the home run front, but he’s clearly doing something right in his handling the new approach from hitters league-wide.
Jose Alvarado - .000/.000/.000
Consider this a teaser for an article to come.
Brad Boxberger - Opponent BABIP
Boxberger has been a welcome sight since his return to the club in late June. Boxy has an ERA of 3.14, and he has already factored in six decisions (three wins and three losses); Cash clearly trusts him in big situations.
Part of Boxy’s strong numbers are reliant on his .194 batting average allowed on balls in play, though. Boxy has always been able to limit opponent BABIP to a certain extent (.272 BABIP for his career), thanks in large part to his refusal to give into hitters even when he is behind in the count. Boxberger’s walk rate in 2017 (4.40 BB/9) is right in line with his career walk rate (4.54 BB/9), which is way too high, but it certainly explains part of his extended ability to limit opponent BABIP. If you are willing to hand out a walk instead of giving in late in the count, hitters aren’t going to get some of that more solid contact that they might get when usually ahead in the count.
That’s not to say Boxy isn’t due for a bit of regression, however. His opponent BABIP of .194 is almost 80 points below his career rate, and only seven pitchers in baseball have a lower BABIP, even when lowering the IP limit to the tiny 14.1 innings Boxberger has thrown.
Sergio Romo/Steve Cishek - Walks allowed/hits allowed
We’re starting to get into the realm of tiny sample sizes, but what these two relievers have done for the Rays has been pretty solid so far. Both were brought in at (or near) the deadline, and Romo has yet to walk a hitter in his 11.1 innings for the Rays, while Cishek has allowed just one hit in his 7.2 innings in Tampa. Clearly neither of these rates are sustainable, but they are also 19 very good combined innings that the Rays now have in the bank. Plus, the added confidence these two have brought to the pen is something that statistics aren’t always able to measure. Both were excellent additions for the Rays. (Now if only they could swing a bat...)
Dan Jennings - 3.2
Jennings has thrown 3.2 innings for the Rays. There are no stats that could even be approaching relevant at this point. Sorry, Dan, no stat for you.