Monday, August 23, 2004

What's gotten into Cal Eldred?

I admit it - I was curious as to why Cal Eldred was still on the roster after a horrible April and May. I cringed whenever I saw Eldred coming into games in May, June, and even July, thinking that Tony had given up on a game when Eldred was in.

As it ends up, Eldred has proven to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that he not only deserves to be on the roster, but has become a very trusted member of the pen.

For starters, I need to point out that I like to use OPS allowed to evaluate bullpen pitchers moreso than ERA. I have nothing against ERA, mind you, but it can be misleading, especially over a smaller number of innings like those seen by relievers.

With that being said, Eldred has been steadly improving as the season has went on.

April - 1124 OPS, 6 BB, 7 K
May - 915 OPS, 3 BB, 5 K
June - 564 OPS, 1 BB, 8 K
July - 851 OPS, 1 BB, 11 K
August - 442 OPS, 3 BB, 10 K

Eldred did have a hiccup in July, thanks in large part to him allowing 4 doubles and 3 home runs despite just giving up 15 hits in the month. But all in all, we see an encouraging trend. Fewer walks, more strikeouts, and batters not hitting him as hard.

As a matter of fact, if you break down the bullpen since the All-Star break by OPS allowed, Eldred is near the top.

Tavarez - 413
Isringhausen - 587
Eldred - 595
Kline - 612
Calero - 662
Haren - 664 (both starting and relieving)
King - 677
Simontacchi - 810

So, you say - what's the point? Simply put, it doesn't look like the bullpen has any weak links. As a matter of fact, the bullpen is very, very deep. Especially if and when Calero comes back in a couple of weeks, and you factor in the addition of one of the starters into the mix. A strong bullpen can be more important in the playoffs than a top notch starting pitcher.

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