How to use your Bullpen. A presentation for Trey Hillman (w/ pictures)

Hello Mr. Hillman,

On behalf of the Royals fanbase, we here at the International American School of Bullpen Usage would like to offer you a free course on how to use your bullpen. The fanbase is concerned about how the bullpen has been used recently and they wish for us to provide you with some pointers on how to get from the 6th to the 9th inning. We will provide pictures of your relievers in case you have problems linking names to faces.

These men make up your bullpen:

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When your pitcher has either given up too many runs to have a shot of winning, or has thrown over 110 pitches in 5 innings, typically, you go to the bullpen. Unless Gil Meche is pitching, then you pull him after 115 at the earliest. So the question is "Who should I bring in first?"

First, as you may have noticed from the list of the magnificent seven, this guy is no longer in your bullpen:


Horacio is currently pitching with the Nationals, a team worse than the Royals. Therefore you cannot bring in Horacio as the first reliever.

The first thing to consider from a relief pitcher is his WHIP. To put it another way, how many hits and walks they give up per inning. If they give up lots of hits and walks, then they are not as good as pitchers who don't give up lots of hits and walks.

 Of the six relievers you can go to as the first reliever, here are their WHIPs.  Cruz (1.26), Colon (1.35), Bale (1.40), Wright (1.45), Mahay (1.57), and Tejada (1.94). Let's summarize that in pictures

Sensible picks:


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Bad Picks:

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Your first reliever out of the pen tonight was Ron Mahay. Who is the guy in the middle on the bad picks. Your second reliever out of the pen was Jamey Wright, the guy on the left who looks like a Deliverance extra. Don't worry about the guy on the right, you never use him anyways. Wright has entered the game with a lead 14 times and that lead has been reduced or eliminated 9 times after he finished. He has entered 5 tie games and given up a go-ahead run twice.

Your usage of Mahay suggests that you only recently found out that he wasn't traded to the Phillies last year. You typically pitch Mr. Mahay once every four days. Once Ron Mahay came off of a 4 day layoff to throw 7 pitches, and he didn't pitch for another 6 days.

When your team is ahead, as the Royals occasionally are, the first reliever is an important reliever. Colon (guy in the middle on the good list) has been brought in twice with a lead in 15 appearances. Cruz (glamour shots photo on the left of the good list) has been the first man out occasionally. You've only brought Bale (guy on the right, good list) out before the 7th once.

It is also worth considering the walk totals for relievers. In regards to walks per inning, your crew breaks down as follos: Colon (0.35), Mahay (0.39), Wright (0.39), Bale (0.51), Cruz (0.52), and Tejada (1.015). This information is especially useful for mid-inning relief. Say if you bring in Bale mid-inning.

Out of your pitchers, you typically bring Bale, Cruz and Wright into the tough spots. While reserving milder spots to Tejada, Mahay, and Colon.

You have brought Tejada into 14 games with runners on and 3 with no runners on. Which is kind of confusing, since he walks lots of batters, leading to more runners.

But Mahay, Bale, and Wright are the worst when it comes to the runners on base for their entry scoring. If you have two runners on when any of those 3 enter, the odds are good that 1 runner scores.

Roman Colon, on the other hand, seems to be good with not having inherited runners score.

To put it another way. Jamey Wright has entered in 9 save situations, and blown the lead 3 times. Which is not to suggest that the lead stayed the same the other 6 times. It didn't tonight.

But there is another important lesson to learn in regards to relievers.

As you may have noticed, one man was not mentioned in the garble. Joakim Soria.

But if there is a situation where there is 1 or 2 outs in the 8th and a save situation, YOU ARE ALLOWED TO BRING JOAKIM SORIA INTO THE GAME.

In fact, most managers would bring their best relief pitcher into the game.Soria has the best numbers for WHIP, Hits per inning, and fewest Walks per inning. He also strikes out 1 1/4 per inning.

So, a few things to remember


1) Jamey Wright is the worst pitcher that you use regularly. Try to not bring him into games when you have a narrow lead.


2) You might want to try this guy without runners on base for once. Just to see if he has better luck in not walking people then.


3) Just because this guy is old doesn't mean that he has to rest 4 days between appearances.


4) This guy should probably not get so many big time situations. Just because he's old and pitched in Japan doesn't mean that he's an ideal late innings guy. Try him in the middle of the game to see how that works.


5) This guy has been a disappointment, but try seeing how he fares as the first guy out of the pen. Also try to get him to not throw changeups to HR hitters.


6) This guy is not Robinson Tejada. Try putting him in a game or two just to see how that works out. At least give him some of the spots that you keep giving to Jamey Wright.


7) This guy can pitch for 4 outs without his arm falling off.

Remember Trey, when your starters leave a game with a lead, it's likely that your offense will clock out for the night and it will all be on the relievers to hold up the fort.

Just because you have a pen where 4 of 7 members are former Atlanta Braves and where large swathes of the pen may suck on any given night is not an excuse to keep up the status quo. Outside of Soria, there shouldn't be some preset role. There is nothing stupider than annointing an 8th inning guy, because confining your two best relievers to the last two innings means that lousy relievers have to step in to hold earlier leads.

Mr. Hillman, we hope that you can apply some of these lessons to improve the usage of your bullpen. We thank you for your time.

The staff of the International American School of Bullpen Usage

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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