Author Topic: Bullpen 2024 - Maybe this time it really will be a strength?  (Read 3492 times)

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Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Laurila has a longish piece about Jordan Weems today on FG.
https://blogs.fangraphs.com/sunday-notes-well-grounded-jordan-weems-looks-back-at-two-firsts/

talks about his conversion from a catcher to a pitcher, his first big league appearance (K of Trevor Story in 2020), and his first win (last year vs the Mariners).

Online welch

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Send Rainey to Harrisburg to recover his arm strength, if possible. Nats would need another relief pitcher, but they don't really have one in Rainey. Maybe try Rutledge as a long reliever. The current guys look OK for an inning or maybe a couple outs into a second inning.

Online Slateman

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Rainey throwing 95 and not walking hitters

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Rainey throwing 95 and not walking hitters
hitting them, not walking them

Offline tomterp

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Rainey throwing 95 and not walking hitters

He averaged 97.7 on his four-seamer in 2018 and 2019, and was 96.2 in 2023 before his injury.  He's averaging 93.5 this season. 

Offline GataNats

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He averaged 97.7 on his four-seamer in 2018 and 2019, and was 96.2 in 2023 before his injury.  He's averaging 93.5 this season.

He is finished.  Wasted roster spot

Online Slateman

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He averaged 97.7 on his four-seamer in 2018 and 2019, and was 96.2 in 2023 before his injury.  He's averaging 93.5 this season. 
Up to 95 his last two outings though

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Can anyone find a discussion of a "fix" they did with him over the two weeks he didn't appear in a game? He certainly is throwing harder.

Still should not stop them from DFA'ng him and outrighting him to Rochester if he clear waivers. Maybe there's a team that thinks he's worth a roster spot and seeing if he can get right by September, but I think he's likely to go unclaimed.

Offline varoadking

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Can anyone find a discussion of a "fix" they did with him over the two weeks he didn't appear in a game? He certainly is throwing harder.

Still should not stop them from DFA'ng him and outrighting him to Rochester if he clear waivers. Maybe there's a team that thinks he's worth a roster spot and seeing if he can get right by September, but I think he's likely to go unclaimed.
The Rays would pick him up and turn him into another Craig Kimbrel of old...

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Patrick REddington at Federal Baseball has Davey's comments on Rainey's Sunday appearance, where he had 2 walks and gave up a homer, but was hitting 95:
https://www.federalbaseball.com/2024/5/21/24160693/washington-nationals-news-notes-nats-snap-5-game-skid-with-12-3-win-over-twins-tanner-rainey-project

Quote
“He doesn’t have that 97-98 like he used to,” the skipper said earlier in the series with the Phillies, “... so the slider’s a big part of his arsenal right now, and he’s got to use it. He can throw it for strikes, it’s that good.”
...

“I’m still hoping that utilizing his lower half a little better, [the velo will] come up,” Martinez said. “At times we’ll see that 94-95, but we’ve got to get him to understand that, hey, right now it’s not there. It’s more about your pitch selection. It’s more about location. Throwing fastballs right down the middle is not going to work, especially to good hitters.”

“We’re tinkering around a with a little bit of his mechanics,” he explained.

“Trying to get him to stay in his legs a little bit more, the thing is being able to throw strikes consistently. When he’s around the strike zone he does fairly well. When his slider is in the zone, it’s a good pitch for him, so we got to get him ahead, we got to get him to understand that strike one is still his best pitch, you know, and he’s got to attack the strike zone. We’re going to keep working with him and see where we’re at. I’m not going to give up on him. We’re trying to ease his way in, try to put him in situations where hopefully he can start feeling a little better. But he’s a big part of that bullpen, and we’re going to need him.”

Online Slateman

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It just looks like a lost year for him. Not everyone has a fantastic bounce back from TJS. He has another year of control after this.

Online welch

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It just looks like a lost year for him. Not everyone has a fantastic bounce back from TJS. He has another year of control after this.

Get him to Rochester and have him work up his control and speed. Do it there, where he can work a lot without blowing out a game. The problem, of course: who replaces him? Maybe Rico Garcia? Can Rico be that much worse than Rainey right now?

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Rainey dfa is a move when Gray is ready, not before.

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Should be noted that Dylan Floro gave up a run on April 6, his 4th appearance of the year. 21.2 IP since then. xFIP still says that, with a normal home run rate, he's pitching like a 3.49 ERA pitcher. Advanced stats don't like that he's only K'd 14 guys over that stretch, but are happy with the 3 BBs. FIP likes him too, at 2.25. Don't want to be too negative here. BABIP of .222 is also a bit lucky, but Floro has pretty consistently had a low BABIP every year over the last 5 except last year. In terms of sustainability, the 47.5 GB% is a bit lower than his recent years and career average of > 50%.

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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1/3 of the way into the season, and the Nats bullpen is 6th in relief fWAR. ERA is only 12th, but FIP is 6th.

They throw hard but do not get many Ks. 22nd in K/9, but 8th in fastball velocity.

High in BABIP (21st at .295), but lots of ground balls (8th at 45.1%). Not giving up homers when balls are elevated has helped, too (6th at 8.9% HR/FB). 4th lowest FB% suppresses homers as well, and 2nd lowest LD% means there's just not a lot in the air against them. TBH, with any infield defense and the low LD rate, the batting average against (22nd at .240) should be much better.

As much as we think Davey doesn't let his starters go deep, the Nats are actually 7th from the bottom in bullpen innings, making that fWAR compilation even more impressive.

Davey is one of the more active managers when it comes to pulling his relievers mid-inning (4th in MLB). I think that comes in part from not wanting to press guys when they seem off, and in part from his willingness to bring in Harvey and Finnegan to close out innings and come back to start the next. Law and Harvey are two of the primary set up guys for the season, and they have been pulled 48 times. In fact, Law is tied with Hunter Gaddis of Cleveland  for 1st in the majors in pulls at 25, and Harvey is tied for 6th at 23. Top 5 Nats in pulls have been taken out 104 times (floro and Garcia 19, weems who was in 6th/7th inning ahead duty for a while 18).


Offline rileyn

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Rainey dfa is a move when Gray is ready, not before.
It's tough in the bullpen to play 17 games in 17 days carrying a guy that doesn't pitch. 

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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It's tough in the bullpen to play 17 games in 17 days carrying a guy that doesn't pitch. 
Yes.

TBH, they would have been better off keeping MBarnes around for a functioning 8th arm, but I think at that point they thought they could work with Rainey and get him back. It almost seemed like a sentimental call, and I think also that it was kind of a solid for MBarnes to let him try to line up a better situation.

Most of the 40 man pitchers in the minors are starting right now. Willingham is the only healthy bullpen arm on the roster. His ERA is high, but he's had decent K and BB rates as well as GBs. He's been burned by homers on balls that do go in the air. He probably could handle some low leverage allowing JBarnes to take some of the innings going to Law, Floro, and Garcia to give them some rest or, with Floro and maybe Garcia, help Harvey and Finnegan.

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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I'll add that there's room on the 40 man to add a pitcher who is not there currently. It'd be quick to call on Ribalta and it'd be a jump for Schoff. The other option might be Herz, who is on the 40 man and likely will eventually be a reliever, but I think they want to see him still try to get the BBs down to where he could start.

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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June Numbers for the bullpen are a bit surprising as to who is doing well or not. These numbers do not include today.

For the group, only 2 relievers have given more than 1 BB - Harvey and Weems.

Garcia, Floro, and Rainey did not give up a homer but had all pitched less than 9 innings (after today, Floro is up to 9.2 IP).

It was mentioned that Tanner Rainey has not been scored on in several appearances.
June for Rainey - 5 appearances, 6 IP, 3Ks, 0 BBs and 0 runs as noted.

He was roughed up a bit this week, but JBarnes has had a nice month, too.
9 games, 9.1 IP,12 H, 3 R, 2 ER,  8 Ks, 1 BB, 1.93 ERA.

Garcia has 11 Ks, 1 BB over 7 innings / 8 appearances (not counting today), with no homers and just 5 hits. You'd think that means he's tough to score upon, but he's been charged with 3 ERs. 56+ GB%, too. Someone called him a stathead darling, and that might be right. All the damage was in 2 appearances in Detroit: 1 inning with 2 hits and a run on 6/12, and the complete blow up on 6/13 (2h 1BB over 3 batters, 2 score).

Going into today, Law had 6 more innings than anyone else (15.1) over 9 appearances. He seems to be Davey's primary "get a lead to Harvey and Finnegan" guy. 14:1 K:BB, 2 HRs, and 13 H 1HBP. 7 ERs.

Weems and Harvey have been the problem children this month.

Weems - 6 appearances, 6.2 IP, 4Ks, 3 BBs, 2 HR . .  . 9.45 ERA, well deserved (7.34 FIP). He's a mop up guy who is not giving innings. Most egregious games were vs. Mets 6/5 (3 ER over 1.2 IP) where Davey forced him just to take it for the team and vs. ATL 6/9 (3 ERs 1 dinger, not outs). It's not like he's showing signs of being useful like Rainey.

Honestly, I'm still a huge Harvey fan but this month has been one of those relievers have that poison their season numbers. He is still the top "hold" reliever in baseball, and his season numbers are very good if no longer :az: , but he's been hit with HRs (2) and BBs (4) over his 8.2 IP and 8 appearances. Velocity is still there (98.1), and 10 Ks (which is down for him). 5.19 ERA (FIP 5.22). Only 5 fly balls all month, but 2 went out. Nevertheless, he's stranding a lot of runners (82 LOB%). The two HRs, vs ATL on 6/6 and vs Colorado yesterday, were almost all the damage (4 ERs), but he had a fortunate escape on (no runs, 2 H, 1 BB, but 3 Ks). He had had 4 scoreless appearances in a row before the 8th inning HR in Denver.

It's been an outstanding month for Finnegan, pre-Colorado. 9.1 IP, 5H, 11 K, 0 BB, 2 ERs - both on solo homers. 1.93 ERA. 9 games, 6 saves.Helped by a .150 BABIP.  I'm just going to chalk up Colorado to breaks even out, including that BABIP number. Probably best it evened out in a 2 days and only one blow save loss.

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Overall so far in June, the bullpen probably is middling in MLB. They have been tops in baseball at avoiding walks, but are a little worse than average at HR/FB. Fly suppression helps deal with that (5th in MLB), so HR/9 is middle of the pack (17th).

ERA has been hurt by BABIP (.309 - 24th, league average .283), but when the only better than average defender is the guy in CF covering 1/3 of the planet, you probably deserve a worse than average BABIP. Run prevention is a team game once you take out HRs, BBs, and Ks, and for both the starters and the relievers, the D has hurt their pitching lines.

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Weems and Harvey have been the problem children this month.
...
Honestly, I'm still a huge Harvey fan but this month has been one of those relievers have that poison their season numbers. He is still the top "hold" reliever in baseball, and his season numbers are very good if no longer :az: , but he's been hit with HRs (2) and BBs (4) over his 8.2 IP and 8 appearances. Velocity is still there (98.1), and 10 Ks (which is down for him). 5.19 ERA (FIP 5.22). Only 5 fly balls all month, but 2 went out. Nevertheless, he's stranding a lot of runners (82 LOB%). The two HRs, vs ATL on 6/6 and vs Colorado yesterday, were almost all the damage (4 ERs), but he had a fortunate escape on (no runs, 2 H, 1 BB, but 3 Ks). He had had 4 scoreless appearances in a row before the 8th inning HR in Denver.

The drop in Ks makes me wonder about the fastball. The velocity seems to be there, but he's not punching guys at his normal rate. Maybe it is more of a splitter problem that let's hitters spoil fastballs and hit the splitter. That's Profar's AB in Game 1 of the Padres series. The LOB% caught up with Harvey yesterday even though everything bounced in the park.

Also - curious about the ground rule double over Thomas. What was the catch probability?

Offline Senatorswin

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This from the Nats site:

"For only the second time in Nats history (2005-present), they surrendered a three-run lead and lost in extra innings. The only other instance was May 11, 2006, in a 5-4 defeat to the Reds in 11 innings. Lefty Joey Eischen was assessed the loss and blown save that day."

Would be on a 4 game winning streak if they hadn't blown two ninth inning saves in the last three days.

Offline imref

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This from the Nats site:

"For only the second time in Nats history (2005-present), they surrendered a three-run lead and lost in extra innings. The only other instance was May 11, 2006, in a 5-4 defeat to the Reds in 11 innings. Lefty Joey Eischen was assessed the loss and blown save that day."

Would be on a 4 game winning streak if they hadn't blown two ninth inning saves in the last three days.
This team doesn't get blown out a lot. We'll get them tonight (hopefully).

Online Slateman

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Crashing back down to Earth.

While I don't think Garcia, Law, or Barnes are anything special, I do have to wonder if this latest crash is a combination of two long streaks of no off days combined with having to basically hide Weems and Rainey.

Garcia is particularly a baffling case. He has an ERA of 4.44, but a FIP of 2.29 and an xERA of 2.59. 12.99 K/9, 3.08 BB/9, and 0.68 HR/9. The metrics and data say he should be a very good reliever. But so far, he has been incredibly middling. This would indicate bad luck, but it seems to be consistently happening.

Rizzo needs to do something with Weems and Rainey. Rainey's velo isn't back. If someone actually wants to claim him, I say gamble it and let him go. Maybe this is a Trevor Rosenthal situation and he just needs additional time. He's going to be 32 next season, so kind of doubting recovery. Weems probably gets claimed and I can live with that. Call up Cate and Adon, see what you've got. At the very least, you get fresh arms into the pen, which is sorely needed right now

Offline nobleisthyname

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Regarding Garcia and underperforming his peripherals, I'm always tempted to just chalk that up to the fact that relievers are always subject to SSS basically by definition. He's pitched 27 innings this season, basically 4-5 starts from a starter. His BABIP is almost .400. Hard to believe that's sustainable.