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Dodgers Dugout: Is the bullpen as bad as most people think?

Dodgers Dugout: Is the bullpen as bad as most people think?
Joe Blanto (Harry How / Getty Images)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I’m hoping for the best for Muhammad Ali.

A closer look at the bullpen

The Dodgers’ bullpen has been a source of concern since the start of recorded history. Or at least that’s how it seems at times. But how have the relievers really done this year?

If you ask the Dodgers, they will say the bullpen is fourth in the NL in ERA at 3.32 and leads the NL in wins with 10. They will also point out that the team is first in the NL with a 1.045 WHIP. And all of that is very true.

They usually won’t point out that the bullpen is also third in the NL with 10 losses and 12th in save percentage with a poor 63% save percentage.

However, there is also an important bullpen stat that rarely gets talked about. A relief pitcher’s ERA isn’t always the best indicator of effectiveness. For example, I don’t want to pick on anyone specific, so let’s make up a name. Let’s say Thris Batcher comes in with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh inning with the Dodgers leading, 5-3. He gives up a triple, scoring three runs, and then gets the final out. The game ends with the Dodgers losing, 6-5. Batcher’s ERA for the game? 0.00. Who gets the loss? The pitcher Batcher replaced. But who really cost the Dodgers the game? Batcher.

There is a stat that accounts for this: Inherited runners scored %. The lower the percentage, the better the reliever has done. In the above scenario, Batcher’s IRS% is 100%, the worst you can do.

So how has the Dodgers bullpen done this season? Not well. Their team IRS% is 34.6% (28 of 81 inherited runners have scored), which puts them 11th in the National League.  Who leads the NL? The Giants, with a IRS% of 20.4% (20 of 98 runners scored).

Individual Dodgers, from best to worst:

Kenley Jansen, 10%

Louis Coleman, 21.4%

Adam Liberatore, 26.7%

Joe Blanton, 27.3%

Chris Hatcher, 30%

Pedro Baez, 60%

J.P. Howell, 75%

Not a pretty picture. Jansen is great (he has allowed only one of 10 inherited runners to score) and it gets progressively worse from there. I think by the end of the season the Dodgers bullpen will mainly be Jansen, Coleman, Liberatore, Blanton, Casey Fien and Julio Urias. Hopefully Frankie Montas is as good as advertised when he comes off the DL, leaving Howell or Baez or Hatcher or Yimi Garcia as mop-up men.

Puig is hurt

Yasiel Puig, who was last an effective hitter in the first half of 2014, is hurt again. A sore hamstring. Again. That is why you haven’t been seeing him in the lineup. As Dave Roberts said: “With the issues that he’s had in the past, with where he’s at and where we’re at in this season, it doesn’t make any sense to put him in.” Roberts said. That’s a good reason as is the fact HE HASN’T BEEN A GOOD HITTER SINCE THE FIRST HALF OF 2014.

What Vin Scully means to me

I asked you to tell me your best Vin Scully memories, and I got a lot of responses. I will publish selected ones in each newsletter. And keep emailing them to me.

Steven J Calhoun: I had the pleasure of bartending at "The Beach Club", a private beach club where the well-to do have their own space. One day, Vin came up to the bar very unassuming and ordered two bottles of wine for a group of guests he was with. He was 100% class all the way and did not expect any special service even in the smallest iota! I also had the honor of meeting his late son, who was wearing a World Series ring. Not knowing at the time that he was Vin’s son, I asked him how he got the ring? He said, “My dad gave it to me. He is the TV-radio voice of the Dodgers.” I was taken back the way he said it. He just could have said that my dad is Vin Scully, but he did it the classy way, just like Vin.

Ask Ross Porter

Former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter will be answering select reader questions for the rest of the season. Email me a question for Ross, and I will pass it on. His latest response:

Beverley Austerling asks: Ross, why aren't baseball outfields the same measurements in each city to make it more fair?

Ross: Major league ballparks are not standardized in size mainly for historical and local reasons. Beverley, new stadium plans have to be approved by the baseball commissioner's office.

When the Dodgers played their first season in Los Angeles at the Coliseum in 1958, it was only 251 feet down the left field line, but 425 feet to center and 440 feet to right. In New York, the Giants' home at the Polo Grounds had only 257 feet between home plate and the right field corner, just 279 feet to left field, but 455 feet to center field. The original Yankee Stadium had a distance of 285 feet to left and 295 feet to right.

The major leagues passed a rule that any field built after June 1, 1958 must have a minimum distance of 325 feet to left and right and 400 feet to center. However, in the last 25 years, teams have attempted to create slightly unorthodox stadiums because they thought it would give them a large home-field edge. Coors Field in Denver has fences set farther back because of lower air pressure. It should also be noted that Boston's Fenway Park has a 37 foot high fence-the Green Monster-in left field, and some clubs have in-play scoreboards and high fences which are 50 to 60 feet tall.

The TV situation

If you would like to complain about the Dodgers’ TV situation, you have three options: The Dodgers, Time Warner Cable and whatever local cable or satellite provider you have that doesn’t carry the Dodgers. Here’s who to contact:

For the Dodgers, click here or call (866) DODGERS ([866] 363-4377). (I hope you like form letters).

For Time Warner, click here.

For DirecTV, call (800) 531-5000 or click here.

For your local cable or satellite provider, consult your bill for the customer service number and for the website.

And finally

The Alex Guerrero era is over. Let’s try to look back on it fondly (that mainly limits you to looking at April of last year). Read why here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston

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