Stats Corner: Can Pirates' bullpen keep escaping jams?
Manager Clint Hurdle leaned heavily on a deep, versatile bullpen during the 2013 season, with Pirates relievers tossing the fourth-most innings pitched (545.2) and compiling the third-best ERA (2.89) in the majors. The Bucs' pen returns virtually unchanged in 2014, but Hurdle shouldn't count on those guys locking down the late frames so effectively as his club chases back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 1991-1992.
While many Pirates relievers had sparkling ERAs, several didn't strike out batters and limit walks at a clip suggesting sustained dominance. Justin Wilson, Tony Watson and Vin Mazzaro, in particular, escaped jams by stranding an extremely high percentage of base runners — something sabermatricians have shown to be more the product of luck than skill.
Pitcher Strand rate
Justin Wilson 84.9
Tony Watson 80.7
Vin Mazzaro 78.6
MLB Avg. for RP 75.2
Most relievers, even legendary ones, strand between 75 and 80 percent of players reaching base. Wilson's and Watson's 2013 strand rates were higher than the career mark of all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera (80.5 percent), and those lefties plus Mazzaro topped runner-up Trevor Hoffman (76.7 career stand rate).
If Wilson, Watson and Mazzaro can't continue the Houdini act, their ERAs could spike in 2014. ZiPS, a projection system available on Fangraphs, predicts that Wilson's ERA will increase by over a run and a half this season. Watson and Mazzaro may cough up considerably more runs, too.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.