Coming in with Runners On – Not our Forte.

This snippet here addresses one of my main gripes about the bullpen and how it's being handled. Our manager seems content to leave our pitchers in past when pitch counts suggest it's time for the yank, and let them get into trouble before bringing in his setup staff. One of the recipients of these particular hard knocks has been our right-handed setup man Rafael Betancourt.

On paper, Betancourt's been a stud made of awesomeness. As a Rockie, he's posted a 2.05 ERA (2.14 FIP, 2.15 tRA) and struck out 23 (2.89 K/BB) over 22.0 IP (29 G), and adding 0.8 WAR to the team. He's been more or less "nails", striking out 9.40 batters per 9, his highest rate since 2005 (9.71).

However, he seems to have been struggling lately, not being nearly as crisp as we're accustomed to.  However, as I've screamed in game threads, it seems he's being brought in an awful lot to face hitters who've been dumped on him from the pitcher before letting runners on and then getting the hook. Logically, you're going to perform better with a clean slate to start with. What I am having trouble understanding is why we need to push a starter already at 110 pitches to start the 8th inning when we have a nails setup man and a lights out closer ready to roll. We're paying them, how about we use them?

Anyhow. I ran a quick study using Baseball-Reference.com (btw, check out Ubaldo's page) to see what Rockies Relievers do when the situations are tough, and when they're easy. I used a cumulative WPA to gauge the situations and see how "well" the guys perform when they have inherited runners and when the slate is clean for them. I use WPA so that we can get a look on their effect on the game, as ERA or whatever will attribute runs to other pitchers and such if there are inherited runners allowed, and that really doesn't tell us what we want to know. WPA will just answer the question: "did the pitcher improve the Rockies' chances of winning?"

Don't remember WPA? Refresh yourself, and then come join us after the jump.

So what we've done is taken the game logs from Baseball-Reference, and broken them down into games where our bullpen has had to deal with inherited runners, and games where they haven't. The results aren't terribly shocking, but interesting nonetheless. (note: these numbers don't include the past game or two.)

Name

# of G w/o IR

WPA

# of G w/ IR

IRS%

WPA

Betancourt

17

0.65

11

47%

-0.53

Daley

36

0.75

15

31%

-0.59

Morales

22

0.72

13

33%

0.11

Beimel

12

-0.3

10

19%

0.32

Street

54

2.48

6

50%

0.35

Fogg

11

-0.2

11

42%

-0.07

Belisle

13

0.05

7

50%

0.05

Rincon

14

-0.2

10

0%

0.54

(IR = Inherited Runners, IRS = Inherited Runners Scored, WPA = Win Probability Added)

In short, I can see the following here: Joe Beimel handles traffic well, but for some reason, struggles when given a clean slate. Betancourt and Daley shouldn't be brought in with runners on.

And the scariest point of all: Juan Rincon doesn't allow inherited runners to cross home plate. Period.

So here's the skinny. Rincon is scarily good at cleaning up somebody else's messes. But with no mess to clean, he makes his own. Beimel does the same thing.

Some combination of Morales/Daley, Betancourt, and Street should be our closing staff. They should also be brought in for a clean inning, none of this "oh hey there are 2 guys on and nobody out" nonsense.

Josh Fogg isn't a good pitcher. But that's not really news.

Matt Belisle is about as Meh as it comes. You can see by that 0.05 WPA on both sides of the chart that he really doesn't add much or take much from the team's chances of winning. It makes me laugh because it just speaks to his skillset - pretty boring - but it makes the most sense because for the most part, he's only tossed into very low leverage outings, mopup duty, where him allowing a run or two over however much work isn't really going to change the Rockies' chances of winning all that much. I'd wager if he was put into higher leverage situations regularly, you'd see quite a bit more on the WPA- side.

This is the kind of stuff that gets to me, the proper usage of our pitchers. Some can handle the heat, some just want to come in and get their own zeros and not worry about anyone else. They should be used as such.

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