Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Royals sticking true to form

Just thought I would give an update on some thoughts I had about the last 3 games.

Saturday was a great game. Ended a 10 game losing streak. Beating Texas (always good) and getting Soria some work.

Lukkkkkkkke Hochever pitched great. He did give up 3 runs in 7 innings, but struck out 13 (notice all the k's in his name!!) and didn't walk a single batter. Hoch left with a 6-3 lead too. I would say that is quality start (generally defined as 3 runs or fewer and atleast 6 innings of work).

To finish the game, the Royals went to the bullpen and got Soria to close with a 6 out save. Very very good in my eyes, because he seems to be the only person in the 'pen who can get people out. It was nice to see our bullpen (albeit the Mexicutioner, who I have come to expect great things from) pick up a good starting performance.

Sunday was not a good game.

The Royals got 6 shutout innings from Sidney Ponson.

Let me repeat that....


Ok, so if the Royals don't win this game it means we blew a terrific start from a terrible starter (Ponson's ERA is 6.79 after those 6 scoreless innings). So naturally, the bullpen comes in a just blows it up.

Mahay comes in, gives up 2 hits to the first two batters he faces (on 3 pitches) and gets pulled. The Royals go on (due to an error I know) give up 3 runs in the 7th and 4 more in the 8th.

Monday, against the Orioles, the boys in blue came back and got a decent start from Bruce Chen (who has not won a game since October 2, 2005 - almost 4 years ago). Robinson Tejeda came in and threw 3 innings of shutout ball, while allowing the Royals to take the lead and handed the ball off to Soria for another save.

Just to emphasize what happened to the bullpen over the weekend:
- Soria is awesome
- Tejeda pitched great
- On Sunday Mahay, Wright and Cruz all gave up runs, and Roman Colon did not

So if you check out my last blog, you will see that the two guys with the lowest percentage of inherited runners scored (Tejeda and Colon) did better. Not science, but I'm just sayin.

On another note, Billy Butler has quietly done a pretty good job for the Royals. I have to give props when props are due. He is not the power hitter we had hoped he would be, but he has a ton of doubles (on pace for over 50 this year and an outside chance at the club record) and is hitting about .300 (only one guy is over and that is Callaspo) and leads the team in OPS (on base + slugging percentage). He has become a quality starter and one that looks like a decent draft pick (for once).

Now if we could only get Alex Gordon to do the same...


Friday, July 24, 2009

To be a fan....

Oh to be a Royals fan.

Sometimes it gets to be extremely difficult. Like now.

During a 9 game losing streak that has spanned before the all-star break, the Royals have had some of the worst relief pitching that I can remember. During the streak, the bullpen is 0-4 with an ERA of 10.05 and 4 blown saves. An ERA of 10.05!!! 10.05!!! That is more than 1 run per inning.

Which is pretty much awful. But expected at the same time.

Why is it expected?

Because of inherited runners.

Baseball-reference.com keeps an awesome list of MLB stats that includes relief pitching and many other mind blowing stats. The one that I was curious about was inherited runners. It seems like every time a relief pitcher comes in with men on base, those men score. I thought I would be wrong about this (or at least hoped I would be wrong) because up until recently our bullpen's ERA has not been terrible. Just bad. And they were supposed to be a strength to start the year.

So inherited runners... How do the Royals compare to the rest of the league and how many inherited runners score?

Answers: They are the worst in the league and as of today 46% of inherited runners score!

The league average is 33%. The leaders in the league are the St. Louis Cardinals, who only allow 22% of inherited runners to score. Half as many as the Royals.

Well, so percentages are ok, but what about hard numbers? Maybe the Royals just don't get that many inherited runners.

Wrong... The Royals have given up the highest number to score (73 and second place has 67) and have seen the 6th most inherited runners in MLB. On top of that, 3 teams who have seen more runners (Tampa Bay, STL and the Dodgers) have allowed less than 30% to score.

But it really can't be that bad can it? Maybe the Royals bullpen comes in with the bases juiced all the time with a 1 run lead in the 8th inning (high pressure). You can't quantify that can you?

Yes you can.

There is an average leverage index (aLi)which describes how much pressure a pitcher sees when they enter the game. Numbers greater than 1 mean high pressure and less than 1 is low pressure. The Royals score is 0.963. The league average is 1.017. They have the 4th easiest pressure when they take the mound.

Royals Relievers, their aLi, and the percentage of inherited runners scored:
Soria, 2.028, 67% (6 of 9, 3 of 3 in his last outing)
Bale, 1.414, 59% (10 of 17)
Mahay, 0.674, 57% (13 of 23)
Farnsworth, 0.514, 56% (5 of 9)
Cruz, 1.127, 54% (7 of 13)
Wright, 0.978, 52% (15 of 29)
Tejeda, 0.688 37% (7 of 19)
Colon, 0.765 27% (6 of 22)

So Soria comes in to the game in the highest pressure (8th highest in the majors) and gives up the most inherited runners. But the problem is the Royals keep sending out players (Mahay, Wright and Bale) who consistently give up runs with people on base, in easy situations.

Example: John Bale (not picking on anyone, just found a good example, even though every time Bale comes into a game with any lead I do think the Royals will lose the game) comes into the game Wednesday night against the Angels in the 7th inning with 2 out, man on first. Bannister has done a great job of keeping a lead and going relatively deep into a game (I say relatively because my memory of the Royals does not include a lot of 7+ inning starting pitchers other than Grienke and sometimes Meche). The Royals lead 6-3. Pretty comfortable, get one out, hand it off to the setup man and then the Mexicutioner to close it out.

So what does Bale do? First batter gets a single. Now 1st and 3rd. Next batter, single. Run scores. Then, he is able to get an out. In my book, if a reliever comes in with a man on 1st and more than a 1 run lead, he should get charged for that earned run. In this case Banny gets an earned run and the Royals are on their way to a loss.

Our starting pitchers have lost 11 wins becuase our bullpen has blown it (thank you baseball-reference.com). They also have 12 "tough losses" (losses in quality starts).

Now it is not all pitching seeing as how the Royals get the second least run support of any team in the majors, but today was about pitching.

That said, I am still going to watch the games on gamecast (I work evenings) and still mutter under my breath every time something goes wrong and get extremely excited when someone hits a home run or gets a timely hit. I know no other way.

Let me know your thoughts on being a fan.

Posting again soon,