Wednesday, May 18

Late-Game Thoughts

Much has been made lately (well, all season really) of the maligned Cubs bullpen and its struggles. While this is true, I thought it interesting while browsing the ESPN GameCast to look at our bullpen real quick statistically. Closing games has been a huge problem, as the scrambles for a new closer have proven, but in reality, we're not doing that badly. (Or are we?)


The Good/Steady
Will Ohman -- 2-0, 0.00 ERA//10 APP, 6 2/3 IP, BAA .217

Cliff Bartosh -- 0-2, 2.13 ERA//10 APP, 12 2/3 IP, BAA .209

Todd Wellemeyer -- 0-0, SV, 2.00 ERA//7 APP, 9 IP, BAA .212

Michael Wuertz -- 1-1, 3.72 ERA//20 APP, 19 1/3 IP, BAA .203

The Bad/Improving
Mike Remlinger -- 0-1, 4.63 ERA//15 APP, 11 2/3 IP, BAA .205

LaTroy Hawkins -- 1-4, 4 SV, 3.52 ERA//17 APP, 15 1/3 IP, BAA .241

*Ryan Dempster -- 2-3, SV, 5.50 ERA//9 APP, 37 2/3 IP, BAA .291

The Ugly/Needs to Improve
Chad Fox -- 0-0, SV, 6.75 ERA//11 APP, 8 IP, BAA .276 --- On the DL

* includes stats as starter, so not entirely indicative of bullpen performance

From looking at it in this respect, it isn't as grave as with some other teams and their bullpens (Pittsburgh, KC, Colorado, Cincinnati, Seattle, Texas, San Francisco... the list is lengthy), and despite the number of losses in there (having mentioned the Cubs are 7-9 in 1-run games this season... 16 of 37 games decided by 1 run!), these "blowups" have not been as catastrophic as, say Danny Graves blowing two huge Reds leads in the 9th Inning, or even Octavio Dotel's recent woes vs. the Red Sox.

I'm definitely feeling better about our relief pitching upon looking at all of this. It says a lot that our bullpen has collectively lost 6 or 7 games, and yet their ERAs are so mid-range/below 4.00..... says as much about a lack of offense in these close games (like right now - 2-1 in the 8th inning) as it does about the bullpen's inability to keep the Cubs in the game.

I would apportion a fair bit of blame on the shoulders of Hollandsworth, Barrett, Patterson, Macias, Dubois, Blanco etc etc as I would on Hawkins -- granted he is there to "close" the game out when we're ahead, but scoring 2 or 3 runs in an entire game would trouble even the game's best 9th Inning pitchers, right?

Anyone have any thoughts on this?


At 4:40 PM, Blogger Hyposquasher said...

my thoughts are as follows...

to point one person out of this bullpen because i'm familiar with him, Hawkins has always put up pretty good numbers, even last year as our closer. consult one of my earlier posts for the exact stats or look them up, but he posted an ERA of around 2.7 i believe last year. the problem with the blown saves is that if he gives up a run or two, it always always always is in the one run games, and that has been the problem as well this year. as you said, none of those ERA's are very high, but we have no problem ending a game up by 2 or 3 or 4 runs, when it might be ok to give up one run in the ninth. the bullpen is consistently raising their ERA's in close games and losing small leads while lowering their ERA's in games where we have a little breathing room.

Anyway, them's my thoughts.

And Dempster almost gave me a heart-attack today as the Cubs handed Mesa back-to-back losses in the ninth inning. Thank you and good day.


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