Relief WPA is the name of the game today. The bullpen has been fairly strong all year, and these have been the six most active pitchers in the Braves’ relief corps. Keep in mind that WPA is heavily dependent on the manager’s usage pattern. A pitcher who doesn’t often pitch in crucial situations isn’t going to have the chance to accumulate a high WPA total, yet on the other hand, such pitchers can get lots of negative WPA if they pitch poorly enough.
Stats are through Sunday 6/7.
Once you account for the facts above, the bullpen’s overall WPA success is fairly impressive. They haven’t really blown many games, while they have lots of positive outings to their credit.
A little more to chew on:
Rafael Soriano: 24 appearances, 10 with average Leverage Index (pLI) greater than 2 (meaning the situation was twice as crucial as an average situation). His WPA has been negative only twice, with the worst a -.188 outing against the Mets on 5/13, where he gave up a game-tying solo homer to Gary Sheffield in the 8th inning. His best came when he relieved Mike Gonzalez, who loaded the bases with one out and a one-run lead against the Jays on 5/23; he didn’t allow the tying run, and the Braves won.
Mike Gonzalez: 27 appearances, 13 with pLI > 2 (some due to his own creative work). He left six of those outings with a negative WPA, the worst being the aforementioned game against Toronto. His best game came a week later against the D-Backs, when he pitched a scoreless 9th and 10th inning to keep the Braves in the game (before they lost in 11).
Eric O’Flaherty: 29 appearances, 5 with pLI > 2, 7 with negative WPA. In the worst, he gave up 4 straight singles to the Giants, putting a game out of reach. In the best, he retired only one batter, striking out the Jays’ Adam Lind with the bases loaded in the 7th inning of a tie game.
Jeff Bennett: 26 appearances, 9 with pLI > 2 (many of his own making), 7 with negative WPA. His best game came in the same inning as O’Flaherty’s, because Bennett retired Jose Bautista to end the inning. His worst was a close race between walking in the winning run at New York on 5/12 and alowing two hits (including the game-winner) at Arizona on 5/30.
Peter Moylan: 29 appearances, 2 with pLI > 2, 10 with negative WPA. Prior to this week’s meltdown against the Pirates, his worst WPA game was a 2-run inning against Houston. His best came in one of the extra-inning games last week against the Cubs.
Buddy Carlyle: 14 appearances, 2 with pLI > 2, 5 with negative WPA. He’s had plenty of bad outings, but he’s pitched in a lot of situations where he couldn’t really lose much in terms of win probability (the Braves were already getting creamed). His best was in his first appearance against Washington, where he actually allowed 2 runs over 2 2/3 innings but did some solid work to keep the Braves in the game.