Any explanation for this choice is going to border on banal. Instead, take comfort in the brevity and consider the table below. The numbers represent the win percentage for the Rays in games they held the lead entering the seventh, eighth, and/or ninth innings.
Season After Six After Seven After Eight 2010 95.1 96.2 98.8 2009 84.2 90.1 95.9 2008 93.2 93.8 97.7 2007 79.4 83.9 89.8
- The hellacious 2007 season is included for perspective. The Rays lost six games where they held the lead entering the ninth during 2007 and have lost six since.
- The big difference between the last three bullpens seemingly came in the seventh inning.
- The 2009 bullpen gets a bad reputation because of numerous September blowups, but for the most part, they did the job.
- Lead sizes are not mentioned, however their roles in these percentages should be obvious. The larger the lead, the less likely the team is to blow it, especially with fewer than 10 outs remaining.
- As such, trying to project or predict a percentage for the 2011 pen is impossible, although AL averages in 2010 were 86.9%, 90.7%, and 95.7% respectively, which represent the baselines for acceptability.