Friday, May 28, 2010

Bullpen Management in Microcosm

Last night, Dave Trembley let Brad Bergesen work into the 8th. After two straight singles, he lifted Brad Bergesen for Jason Berken. Here's what happened next:

"I don't think the pitch count enters into it," Trembley said of removing Bergesen. "He had retired that many, he had a long inning to sit after the seventh. You certainly don't want to put him in a situation where he's going to lose the game. He's pitched so well."

Right-hander Jason Berken entered and immediately picked up a flyout. Trembley then replaced Berken with left-hander Hendrickson to face consecutive left-handed hitters, Daric Barton and Ryan Sweeney...

"I think you're going to go left vs. left there. I think that's really what you're going to do," Trembley said.
"Berken hasn't faced these guys a lot. Their two best hitters are their two lefties right there. … Berken's a fly-ball pitcher. You don't want Berken to give up a home run there. He's never been in that situation before. Hendrickson has. He did a nice job the other night in the same role. That's the decision that was made."

What followed was a debacle as Hendrickson and Cla Meredith combined to blow a 5-2 lead and the Orioles lost the game.

Lifting Bergesen after the two singles? OK. You can second guess that but if Bergey gives up a three-run homer to the next batter, Trembley's getting crucified. And to some extent, I understand that Trembley is trying to limit the psychic damage to a young pitcher. That decision is fine.

But lifting Berken after one batter faced? Berken is your "long man" and, outside of Will Ohman, your most consistent performer out of the pen in 2010. He can certainly give you an inning. He's been sitting on the bench for 7 days...he's well rested. You could also make the argument that you put Berken out there for the two inning save and rest everybody else. And everybody else needs it.

But this would only be a blip if it was one game. Unfortunately, Trembley has been managing this way all season.

Will Ohman is on pace for 84 appearances, Matt Albers, 74 and Cla Meredith, 73. These are not Perlozzian levels of bullpen mismanagement but they are getting close. Meanwhile, Berken has just 12 appearances and we're closing in on Memorial Day. Why not let Berken pitch a little?

This is not how Trembley has managed his bullpens in the past. The work was a bit more evenly spread. I think the losing is messing with his head.

So it's probably time for him to go.

(As an aside, Brad Bergesen has been much improved since his return from Norfolk. 3-1, 4.26 ERA, averaging more than 6 innings a start. OK, 10 walks vs. 8 strikeouts is not good but when you are getting grounders on 67% of your balls put in play, you're certainly going to be in decent shape. This style isn't going to win you any Cy Young awards but Bergesen still looks like a fine back of the rotation starter to me.)


Lydia said...
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Luca said...

I love it!

Eric said...
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