LSU Baseball Pre-SEC Review: Part Three, the Bullpen.


In Deathvalleyvoices’s final installment of the pre-SEC review we wanted to conclude the series by giving some love to the bullpen. The problem with evaluating the bullpen is you have an infinite amount of data to sort through, but it is hard to make heads or tails with because of the scope of the game.

The evaluation is similar to if you are polling a small group about a presidential candidate. The numbers never match up. Polling one town might give us completely different results than another. Every one has a different opinion of topics. Class, race and gender percentages are different in every city, town or panel group; what the polling groups have to use is a large sample size to give us some sort of actual results.

I bring up polling and the people because the multiple variables involved are similar to breaking down a team’s bullpen. First of all not all pitchers are created and used equally. There are middle relievers, who occasionally record a start. These pitchers can come in for relief of the struggling starter to bridge the gap for the back half of the bullpen. They usually eat up a lot of innings and there numbers are very balanced. Then you have closers, setup and specialty pitchers. These guys see only an inning or two in a game and are used inconsistently, leaving their numbers tough to comprehend. For example…

Nick Rumbelow is having a nice season and is one of the arms competing for the closer role. Rumbelow has appeared in eight games, pitching a total of 8.1 innings. In that span he has faced 37 hitters, struck out 12, and is throwing 73 percent of his pitches for strikes, but he has a WHIP of 1.97 and an 8.64 ERA.  Sounds like Rumbelow is having a rough season looking at his WHIP and ERA, but really he isn’t. He numbers look so bad because of one performance. LSU traveled to McNeese State a few weeks ago and won 19-10. The Tigers jumped out to a huge lead and led 19-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Rumbelow entered the game to finish it out, but struggled. He faced eight batters (season high), allowed three hits (two homers) scoring five runs. If this was a more competitive game Rumbelow would have been pulled before giving up the five runs, but he wasn’t. See what I mean by misleading numbers. This kind of scenario is what makes these stats more than just a 2-D object.

Lucky for you I have spent the last couple of days breaking down the pen. I decided when trying to evaluate them we didn’t need to go super-nerdy in breaking them down. In fact, we are going to throw some of the stats out of the window due to the small sample size. We are going to look at a chart comparing the following: batting average against, WHIP, appearances, innings pitched, strike thrown percentage and how the results of each batter face (Fly-out, Groundout, Walk, Strikeout or hit) percentage. Most of these were used earlier in the week to compare the starters so no need to go over the definitions against. I decided not to include Aaron Nola stats into this.

NameApp.IPBAWhipST %Fly OGr. OBBKH

After looking at the number on thing is clear, Goody, Cotton and Rumbelow are the best bullpen pitchers through the first 16 game. The biggest stat is all three guys are throwing over 73% of their pitches for strikes. There not toying around with the batter and attacking them. Goody has a great WHIP and is striking out nearly half the batters he has faced. Cotton is tied with the lowest batting average allowed with Joey Bourgeois at .174. The problem with these three is they all pitch in the same role (for now at least). Can Paul Maineri use two of these guys as a setup and closer, leaving on to assist with middle relief? Will have to wait and see.

The only weak point of the pen is with middle relief. Joe Broussard, Cody Glenn and Kevin Berry are the three normal guys we see coming into the game after the starters exits before the seventh. Throwing 65 percent for strikes might be okay for a starter, but is weak for any member of the bullpen. All three are either at or below the 65 percent. Berry is only striking out 10 percent of batters faced, putting a lot of pressure on the LSU defense. Glenn’s WHIP and batting average allowed is extremely too high to use during SEC play as it stands. Broussard has the best overall numbers of the three, but that is like saying you are the smartest kid participating in the Special Olympics.

Some of these guys are going to have to step up to give support to the starting pitchers, as well as, the offense. LSU has some arms that can get the job done, but is LSU going to wear those arms down during SEC play due to lack of depth? We will see soon as LSU begins a three game series this weekend.