Jerry Manuel's Bullpen Usage

With Fernando Nieve on pace for about 100 appearances out of the bullpen this year, I thought it might be a good time to check in on Manuel's use of the various talents he has at his disposal in the bullpen. It was a little... disappointing to see Francisco Rodriguez warm up about eighty times in that 20-inning marathon the other day, and it seems that Manuel has the more-or-less traditional approach to the bullpen in that he identifies some favorites that are "doing good" and goes with his guys (and leaves his closer for the Mythical Save Statistic).

On FanGraphs, there's a stat called Leverage Index, which attempts to put a number on how important a situation is. The higher the number, the more likely the outcome of the inning determines the game. Let's let FanGraphs speak for itself here for a second:

LI (leverage index): A measure of how important a particular situation is in a baseball game depending on the inning, score, outs, and number of players on base, created by Tom Tango.

Baselines: The average LI is 1 and is considered a neutral situation. 10% of all real game situations have a LI greater than 2, while 60% have a LI less than 1.

Why you should care: Because LI puts a single number on the importance of a situation, it creates a much simpler and specific way of determining which situations in games are important. It can also be applied to players. See below for various LI player stats:

pLI: A player’s average LI for all game events.
phLI: A batter’s average LI in only pinch hit events.
gmLI: A pitcher’s average LI when he enters the game.
inLI: A pitcher’s average LI at the start of each inning.
exLI: A pitcher’s average LI when exiting the game.

So, it seems that pitchers with higher gmLI numbers are entering the game in more important situations. It's almost a way to gauge how much a manager likes a player. Without further ado, here are the gmLI numbers for the current bullpen. I've sorted by gmLI (mostly) to give you an idea of who Manuel thinks are his best bully pitchers.

Pitcher xFIP '09 xFIP '10 averagle gmLI
Nieve 5.41 5.33 1.49
Takahashi N/A 3.38 1.42
Igarashi N/A 5.82 1.57
Rodriguez 4.32 4.03 1.28
Acosta 4.68 2.99 1.35
Valdes N/A 3.7 1.29
Feliciano 3.05 5.16 1.13
Mejia N/A 4.02 0.85

Yup, we knew that Manuel loved Nieve, but this love is a little ridiculous. He's got a poor xFIP, probably stemming from the fact that he's walking about as many as he's striking out, but he's being used, on average, in more important situations than K-Rod. That's not a good plan. Especially since his current xFIP is right in line with his career xFIP.

Hisanori Takahashi is a bit of a miscast bullpen pitcher. He's actually being used as the safety net sixth starter, and should be judged with that group most probably. Instead, let's look at Manuel's irrational love for another guy walking as many as he's striking out. Yes, Ryota Igarashi has been throwing almost 94 MPH, but the walks are not good. He needs to show better control on his return in order to really be considered the Set-Up Man.

I'd argue for more Manny Acosta based on this list, but we've seen that over the sample of his career, he doesn't deserve more time. Instead, let's lament the disappearance of Pedro Feliciano. Yes, he's walking too many (8 per nine). Yes, he's lost a MPH off his fastball. Yes, he's stopped using his slider. Wait, I bet there's something wrong with him. That, or it's just a small sample size blip.

If it's just the sample size with Pedro (ten innings!), he should be the one racking up high-leverage innings, don't you think?

PS. Why is Jenrry Mejia up if he's going to be the mop-up guy? SMH.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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