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Bullpen Woes

I believe it was Branch Rickey who stated that most teams can count on winning and losing 60 games and the relative success of their season is determined by the other 42. Thus far, the Tigers have been very competitive and quite enjoyable to watch. Most games have been close and has it has appeared that they have an excellent chance in any game until they have tendered their final out. On June 9, when I purchased my Pro Sports Weekly newspaper (published by USA Today) I was looking at team statistics for Detroit & Anaheim that I found interesting.

Anaheim .282 297 855 102 16 547 58 280 145
Detroit .284 296 856 101 17 553 56 287 197

Anaheims team OPS (On-base + Slugging) was .780 while Detroit’s was .791. I realize that Anaheim has suffered from a rash of injuries (Garret Andersen, Troy Glaus, et al) and the Tigers have benefited from the stellar performances out of Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge and Omar Infante, I was still surprised when I saw these stats especially after the way Anaheim had buzzsawed their way through the Tiger pitching staff earlier in the season. It also must be qualified that Anaheim consistently faces stiffer competition from the starting pitching of Oakland and Seattle as compared to the staffs the Tigers must face in the AL Central.

starting pitching W-L ERA BB SO IP
Anaheim 23-18 5.18 110 208 323.0
Detroit 20-21 5.19 119 217 311.1

I feel that the Tiger starting pitching has been better than expected and that Anaheim’s has been a slight dissappointment due to the less than spectacular performance of Bartolo Colon. On paper, superficially the two teams don’t seem too far apart although at the time Anaheim was in 1st in their division and the Tigers inhabited 4th place. The determing factor appears to be in their bullpens.

relief pitching W-L ERA IP SV BB SO
Anaheim 10-5 3.14 175.0 19 69 169
Detroit 5-10 4.61 179.2 11 88 134

Beyond these stats I looked at the Tigers and Anaheim bullpens excepting the swing starters (i.e. Ramon Ortiz, Aaron Sele, and Gary Knotts). Anaheim is missing setup man and former All-Star, Brendan Donnelly and have suffered from some poor performances by Troy Percival.

relief pitching WHIP H/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB
Anaheim 1.34 8.42 3.62 9.15 2.53
Detroit 1.52 9.58 4.10 6.70 1.63

The Tigers relievers are pitching more innings and putting more men on base. These statistics don’t account for many variables that depend on 8 other position players, but still is quite clear that this aspect of the game has hurt the teams overall performance. Hopefully, the Tigers will remain competitive throughout and the bullpen will remain the largest of their concerns and possibly their performance will improve.

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