Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Can The Bullpen Be Fixed?

O's fans, there's no sense in getting upset when the Baltimore bullpen coughs up a lead this season. The season is lost and it's now open auditions for the bullpen spots. It's time to find out if anybody on this team can stabilize the 'pen in preparation for next year.

Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker are exempt from this conversation. They signed for big money in the offseason and have pitched well. Look for them to share the seventh and eighth innings, trading off as the setup man for the rest of the year. Who else?

Chris Ray

Some rate stats for Ray comparing last year to this year

FIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9

2006 4.87 7.4 3.9 1.44

2007 4.14 9.0 3.6 1.19

Ray has blown 4 saves this year this year compared to 5 all of last year but in
most important categories he is actually pitching better than last year. The
problem? A lot of balls are finding holes this year where last year the defense
bailed him out a bit more. I think Ray will have things go more his way in the
second half and he should remain the closer next year.

Danys Baez

He reluctantly signed with the O's to setup for Ray but failed to do so effectively and now the O's may be reluctant to bring him back next year. Most peripheral stats (WHIP, K/9) are consistent with his career numbers but he just gave up way too many homeruns to remain effective. It's hard to say what his role may be until he comes off the DL. He certainly needs to put together a strong second half to have a good shot to make the club next year.

Paul Shuey

Shuey's been a nice story but the results haven't been good in the majors do far. He hasn't struck out that many but he's walked just as many as he's punched out which is not a good combination for a reliever. He's also got a WHIP close to 2.00. He'll get a chance to pitch until Baez gets healthy but I don't think he's much more than a mopup guy anymore.

John Parrish

Parrish was a nice story early in the season and it would probably be a bit unfair to judge him on this season's performance given the workload Sam Perlozzo laid on him. Except for one thing. It's a dirty little secret that Parrish walks batters at vintage Daniel Cabrera type rates. You can get away with that if you go 7 innings on a regular basis, not as a reliever. He has to go.

Kurt Birkins

I really want to like Birkins. His K rates and walk rates in the minors are impressive but he has yet to translate that into major league success. He gives up a lot of hits, even in AAA. He has the talent to pitch around those hits in Norfolk but he sure doesn't have the talent to pitch around them in Baltimore. Maybe he will be useful one day but I don't see it anytime soon.

Rob Bell

The journeyman, mostly in the minors, has been a strikeout ace in the minors but, like Birkins, hasn't translated it into big league success...until now. The O's are the first team to give Bell a significant look out of the bullpen and the 2.89 ERA is misleading (he has only 6 K's and 7 BB in his six games this season) and he may not get a chance to sort himself out in Baltimore but he's an intriguing possibility for long relief.

Cory Doyne

I like relievers who were closers in the minors, even if they never end up closing for the big club and Doyne has already saved 26 at midseason (setting a new record for the Tides franchise) and is posting a K/BB ratio of over 3 to 1. I like his chances to break with the club out of Spring Training next year and maybe even begin playing a pivotal role in the bullpen starting in August.

Jim Hoey

Hoey dominated the Eastern League, saving 14 games, appearing in 20 and posting a 0.00 ERA! His ERA in Norfolk has been 1.65 up to this point but he is striking out batters at an even higher rate and the International League is only batting .151 against him. It's just a matter of time before his talent begins to translate against big league hitters. The 24 year old is dominant and should be in the O's pen next year.

Brian Burres

I like Burres but I think his future is in the pen, not in the rotation. Assuming he's not forced into the rotation again, he'll be the primary long man next year.

Predicted O's bullpen for 2008:

Chris Ray - Closer

Chad Bradford - Setup

Jamie Walker - Setup

Brian Burres - Long Relief

Jim Hoey - Relief

Cory Doyne - Relief

That could be a dominant 'pen.

No comments: