Tommy Rancel wrote about the Rays’ changing bullpen strategy two weeks ago, suggesting the Rays might be undergoing a conscious shift from specialists to well-rounded relievers. Andrew Friedman’s latest additions—namely Jamey Wright and Kyle Farnsworth—have all but set the opening day bullpen, which should look like this in assortment if not alignment:
Closer: Fernando Rodney
Set-up: Joel Peralta
Set-up: Jake McGee
Middle relief: Kyle Farnsworth
Middle relief: Jamey Wright
Middle relief: Cesar Ramos
Swingman: Roberto Hernandez
Curious about Rancel’s hypothesis, I took each pitchers’ three-year platoon splits and compared them to the league-average for that hand. Meaning righties were compared against other right-handed relievers and their breakdown against either hand. From there I developed a metric sort of like OPS+ by dividing the player’s platoon OPS by the league-average. Ideally I would have adjusted for park, defense, and level of competition, while also weighing by recentness, but this basic look should do fine for our purposes:
|Pitcher||“OPS+” vs. LH||“OPS+” vs. RH|
If each pitcher lives up to these three-year numbers then the Rays will have three relievers who are above-average against both hands (Rodney, Peralta, and McGee), one other pitcher above-average against lefties (Wright), and two others above-average against righties (Ramos and Farnsworth). The only pitcher that went without being average or above-average against either hand was Roberto Hernandez, who figures to see his numbers improve in shorter spurts.
I don’t know if this is enough to prove Rancel’s hunch correct, but I do believe this group has the making of a solid bullpen. Especially the back-three, which figures to be amongst the top seventh-eighth-ninth combinations in the American League.
All stats courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info