Fish-Cap: Marlins Escape Bullpen Disaster

Welcome to Fish-Cap, the tentatively renamed Blogservations series that I did last year. Fish-Cap will have the same sort of format as the old Blogservations posts, with me posting observational thoughts alongside some stat stuff wherever it fits in. I figured last night’s debacle, along with Nate Robertson’s first start tonight and the Opening Day disaster would have been difficult to fit into one recap piece, so I wanted to get in the conversation a little earlier than I expected. As I mentioned before, you can expect a Fish-Cap post for each series we go through, along with occasional games that I feel would be interesting to talk about.

Now that we have the introduction out of the way, how about last night’s game?

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Witness:

Yikes

Yikes. (From FanGraphs)

You know what stands out to me on that graph? Other than the giant hump that signifies the New York Mets’ ridiculous comeback against a hapless Marlins bullpen, there are the little spikes along the way that make the entire situation more absurd.

Terrible Occurrence #1:  Jeff Francoeur, he of the career 4.7% BB%, walked against reliever Jose Veras. It loaded the bases. It was Jeff Francoeur. He still walked. That play came out to .121 WPA (Win Probability Added). Here’s the at-bat via MLB Gameday:

Veras buried two curveballs into the ground, one of which was luckily swung at because it was Frenchy (!) at the plate. Veras looks to have been squeezed on the fourth pitch, which seems pretty clearly in the zone. Nevertheless, the following two pitches were clearly messed-up hanging curves that were probably fairly easy to lay off. So despite overwhelming odds, Veras walked Francoeur to load the bases.

Terrible Occurrence #2: Unfortunately for us, we had Leo Nunez coming in. Out to finish the inning off, Nunez promptly enters the game after Veras eliminates Rod Barajas and proceeds to walk and balk (!) in two runs before recording the final out. Nunez didn’t endear himself to Marlins fans in the ninth, struggling to 28 real pitches (not including the three intentional balls to Jason Bay) before being able to retire the side.

It is disappointing that the Marlins had to score seven runs to win that game, and that Ricky Nolasco had a decent start marginalized by the awful bullpen. Consider:

Nolasco: 6.7 IP, 5 K, 3 BB, WPA: .182
Bullpen before Tim Wood: 2.3 IP, 0 K, 4 BB, WPA: -0.307

The pen completely ate Nolasco’s performance and then some, costing him the win and giving many a Marlins fan a throbbing headache (myself included). I don’t care about wins for pitchers, obviously, but I do care about the team’s wins. The pen before Wood finished off a high-leverage but low-action 10th inning wiped out about 31% of a win with their performance. Put that in perspective.

Now it’s just two games, but I’d prepare myself for a bumpy, up-and-down ride with this bullpen.

Tags: Jeff Francoeur Jose Veras Leo Nunez Miami Marlins

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