A Great Bullpen Does Not Guarantee Success, But a Bad One is a Loser

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Though bullpens have never had a greater role in baseball than now because of the analytics crowd, they do house the same time of pitchers they always have. A reliever is someone who’s proven he’s not good enough to start. Oh, sure there have been instances where teams did not want rush a young pitcher right out there and started them in the pen, as David Price with Tampa Bay and Chris Sale with the White Sox come to mind.

Nonetheless, bullpen pitchers are those who never developed that quality third pitch and were thought better suited for an inning of work throwing gas or having a funky delivery that was hard for batters to pick up.

Yet, for all the trust largely given to relief pitchers nightly because team’s front offices and managers are scared to death to allow a starting pitcher to go through a lineup a third time or his arm will come unhinged if he throws 105 pitches, the pensters have not been reliable. Only three teams have a save percentage over 75 percent and just seven clubs are over 70 percent. The current major league save average is just over 63 percent, which means that every baseball wager you place and your team takes a lead into the late innings, there is a less than two-thirds chance they will hold on to it. Isn’t that comforting!

This is not to say there are not excellent bullpens, because there are and they have definitely helped those betting baseball. Save percentage is a reflection of holding leads, but bullpen functions have other ways to gauge them. This baseball handicapper also uses ERA and OPS most often. The earned run average is self-explanatory, while on-base percentage and slugging incorporate the ways pitchers allow hitters to reach base and how far they reach in their at bat.

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