MLB Free Agency 2013: 5 Teams That Need Better Bullpens
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Some teams, such as Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Atlanta, have solid bullpens. Others do not. This list looks at five teams that had wretched years in the bullpen, and therefore need to make major improvements through trades or free agency this offseason.
For the record, this list is limited to teams that are likely to be major players on the free agent market.
5. Los Angeles Angels
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A solid team in many other aspects, the Angels' 19-20 relief record may have been the one thing that cost them a playoff spot.
The Angels' 3.97 relief ERA was 22nd in the majors, and their 22 blown saves and .395 slugging percentage allowed were both the 2nd-worst in the AL.
Their bullpen was even worse if you factor out Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs. Jason Isringhausen (pictured), who had the third-highest number of relief appearances for the Halos, posted a 4.14 ERA and 1.38 WHIP with five blown saves against only four holds.
The Angels suffered from lack of command in the bullpen, with seven different men recording saves. Their long relief wasn't too good either, with their two main long relievers (Jerome Williams and David Carpenter) both having ERAs north of 4.00 and Ks per nine south of seven.
4. New York Mets
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New York's National League entry was gosh-awful in relief this season.
Their 16-29 record was 29th in relief wins, but fourth in relief losses. They were 29th in the majors in bullpen ERA with 4.65, and were 27th in fielding-independent pitching.
Frank Francisco (pictured) who closed more games than anyone else for the Mets, had an ERA of 5.53 and a WHIP of 1.61. Jon Rauch's ERA was a little better (3.59), but he also was defeated seven times.
Three of the Mets' four other relievers with 40 innings pitched (Ramon Ramirez, Tim Byrdak and Manny Acosta) had ERAs north of 4.00.
3. Toronto Blue Jays
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Name a relief pitchers' statistic, and chances are the Jays are last in the AL in it.
Their 4.33 bullpen ERA is dead last in the AL. Their 1.35 WHIP is dead last in the AL. Their 29 saves are dead last in the AL. Their 70 dingers allowed is dead last in the AL.
They are also dead last in the AL in homers allowed, total bases allowed, batting average allowed, and slugging percentage allowed.
One thing they were not dead last in was number of people who made an appearance in relief for them, a staggering 29. 20 of those pitchers had ERAs of 4.00 or higher.
Part of their troubles were solved when an unproductive Francisco Cordero (3-5, 5.77 ERA) was dealt for Brandon Lyon (who is a free agent for 2013), and part will be solved once Sergio Santos plays a full season. But that still leaves many other problems.
2. Chicago Cubs
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The Cubs were dead last in saves this season, with just 28, and were second-to-last in save percentage with just 57 percent.
They were also dead last in the majors in a number of categories, including WHIP (1.53), Ks per bases on balls (1.56), OPS conceded (.782), and walks conceded (259). Their ERA was ever-so-slightly better, 4.49 (27th).
Of the five pitchers that made 30 or more appearances for the Cubbies, none had a sub-3.00 ERA or sub-1.20 WHIP, and only Carlos Marmol had a Ks per nine over 7.5. In addition, all four of the righties on that list had losing records (lefty James Russell went 7-1).
Of particular mediocrity were two of Chicago's righty relievers, Rafael Dolis (pictured) and Manny Corpas. In 85 frames, the two gave up 39 bases on balls against only 52 strikeouts.
Corpas posted ERA and WHIP numbers of 5.01 and 1.41, but he wasn't anywhere near as bad as Dolis (6.39 and 1.66, which is even worse when you consider that he spent a few weeks as the Cubbies' closer).
And unfortunately, the Cubbies are on the hook for both of their contracts for the next two seasons.
1. Milwaukee Brewers
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The Beer Men were fifth in the majors in relief Ks per nine. That'd be great if they were near the top in anything else.
The Brewers' bullpen was dead last in the majors in ERA (4.66) and FIP (83 percent). They lost more games (33) and blew more saves (29) than any other MLB bullpen. They were also 29th in WHIP (1.45) and 27th in OPS allowed (.753).
Of the five relievers with 50 or more frames for the Brewers, only Jose Veras (3.63) had an ERA better than 4.00. The worst offender was the lefty Manny Parra (5.06 ERA, 1.65 WHIP).
Closer John Axford and setup man Francisco Rodriguez (pictured) were a combined 7-15 with a 4.52 ERA and 16 blown saves in 141 frames.
And to top it off, the Brewers picked up ancient arm Livan Hernandez midseason as their long reliever. Hernandez was 3-0, but had a 7.68 ERA that amounted to more earned runs than strikeouts.
New lefty and new long man for the Brewers this season?