Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

(Tip of the hat to Steve Sommer of FanGraphs as well as Jeff Zimmerman and Sky Kalkman.)

This graph will display Charlie Manuel’s bullpen usage by Leverage Index, a stat found at FanGraphs. I have shrunk it down to fit on this page, but you can click it to view a much larger version to enhance readability.

Ryan Madson, the Phillies’ closer while Brad Lidge has been out, is marked by the large red circles. While he has been given the Phillies’ most heralded job in the bullpen, he typically has not been pitching in the most important spots in a game.

(Note: Madson pitched on April 24 in Arizona, but it is not marked on the graph because the LI was so high — 3.74 to be exact.)

Jose Contreras, meanwhile, has come in with an LI above 1 (neutral) in four of his seven appearances. Danys Baez has also pitched in LI > 1 situations in four out of his seven appearances.

Manuel has kept his younger hurlers out of crucial situations when possible. Antonio Bastardo and David Herndon have combined for only three appearances in LI > 1 situations. J.C. Romero, recently healed from off-season surgery, has not been called upon to get any important outs yet. Not long after joining the Phillies after being cut by the New York Mets, Nelson Figueroa was thrown into high-pressure situations in his first two appearances out of the bullpen.

Elsewhere, you can catch the pitching-half of my installment of Smoke and Mirrors at Baseball Daily Digest.

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  1. Danny

    April 28, 2010 12:16 PM

    It’s probably a good thing Contreras has been put in those situations because he’s arguably been the best reliever so far.

    But you know that teams will never adopt the “put your best reliever in at the most crucial time” way of doing things. Relievers are “supposed” to have defined roles, so that’s what every team does.

  2. Ryan

    April 28, 2010 12:35 PM

    It’s not only that they are “supposed” to, but they won’t sign unless they DO have those defined roles.

    To many agents and contracts play into it. The numbers that pay aren’t those put up in high leverage situations (ie, pitching in tie games in the 8th). The numbers that pay are pitching in save/hold situations (up as many as 3 runs, at times very low leverage) and if you don’t allow pitchers to compile THOSE numbers then they will go somewhere that they can.

    The bullpen in today’s game is ridiculous. Most relievers see wild variation in their numbers from year to year – typically because of sample size issues – and to many parlay one solid season into that demand for the payday pitching roles. Ryan Madson will be a great example of this when his contract comes due.

    If he puts up anything resembling productive seasons the next 2 years, he’ll have 4 or 5 years of solid relieving on his resume, and SOMEONE will give him a shot to close and make 4-5 million a year. Granted, that a fairly cheap free agent closing option, but he will never say “I”ll take 4 million to set up her” when he could make 4 million to close, and turn in one 35/37 type save season, and become the next big thing… only to blow up a year later (while being overpaid).

    The bullpen situation in today’s mlb makes me wanna vomit.

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