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Brutus
04-21-2010, 02:29 AM
That's the diagnosis that Dr. Pimp has given the ailing, aching Nick Masset.

I'm advising better command, keep the ball down in the zone, bed rest and let karma take care of the rest. Otherwise, there's not much of an antidote for this catharsis.

Yes, in baseball, it's true what goes up must come down. Masset, in albeit an extremely limited sample, is quickly finding himself needing a hug and pep talk from Tony Robbins.

Last year, Masset was the benefactor of fortuitous .250 BABIP, somewhat lucky 80% strand rate and a lovely 9.5% HR/FB ratio. That's not to say his 2.37 ERA was all luck - after all, he struck out more than 8 batters per nine innings and walked fewer than three. He legitimately had a good season.

But this illness shows no mercy sometimes.

In 2010, Masset has already given up a pair of homers despite just four flyballs surrendered. He's getting scorched to the tune of 32% line drives despite a career 17% number. The end result is that 12 of 20 balls in play have fallen for hits - a .600 BABIP.

I didn't need med school for this opinion. Fortunately, I didn't go to med school, but I digress.

In any event, not all is lost. I still feel Masset will be fine. He's striking out a ridiculous 15.4 batters per nine innings (12 in 7 IP). His walks will need to come down (6 in 7 innings), but once all the other stats normalize, he should have a good season.

TheNext44
04-21-2010, 02:40 AM
But what if this is the real Masset and last year was the illusion? Really hard to tell given how few innings a reliever throws during a season.

Let's be clear here. This is not a luck problem what he has been having this year. He has been getting hit harder than a Keith Olbermann pinata at a Tea Party Rally. He may just not be that good, and his talent is regressing to the means, or whatever you smart math guys say when stats start to even out over a long enough period of time.

Not saying that's the case, just saying it just as easily could be this case, as it is that he will be fine.

Brutus
04-21-2010, 02:51 AM
I'm not saying he hasn't been stinky, but even Olbermann's likeness will eventually start getting spared after enough swings.

His FIP last year was 3.23 and xFIP almost identical (3.33). You're right that relievers are tough to critique because of the volatility in the number of innings they pitch each season. But assuming Masset will continue to keep the ball in the zone at a rate he had in 2009, the beatings won't continue too much.

TheNext44
04-21-2010, 03:37 AM
I'm not saying he hasn't been stinky, but even Olbermann's likeness will eventually start getting spared after enough swings.

His FIP last year was 3.23 and xFIP almost identical (3.33). You're right that relievers are tough to critique because of the volatility in the number of innings they pitch each season. But assuming Masset will continue to keep the ball in the zone at a rate he had in 2009, the beatings won't continue too much.

All I'm saying, is that that is a big assumption.

Ron Madden
04-21-2010, 03:52 AM
Relievers are and always will be very volatile. Why?

They are in the pen and not in the starting rotation for a reason. Over a large sample size they have been proven to be inconsistent.

They can be very effective when used sparingly and in the right situations... that's where the Manager comes in and the trouble usually begins.

flyer85
04-21-2010, 09:56 AM
They can be very effective when used sparingly and in the right situations... that's where the Manager comes in and the trouble usually begins.Dusty was playing with fire when he decided to go get Rhodes (who was throwing great) when he didn't have to and replace him with Masset. Would work out most of the time, last night it didn't. I'm still wondering about the thought process that led to Dusty pulling Rhodes.

Chip R
04-21-2010, 10:09 AM
Dusty was playing with fire when he decided to go get Rhodes (who was throwing great) when he didn't have to and replace him with Masset. Would work out most of the time, last night it didn't. I'm still wondering about the thought process that led to Dusty pulling Rhodes.


Could be that there are two more games to play in this series and he may need Rhodes - who is no spring chicken - for tomorrow or Thursday. You don't always manage for that particular game. You manage for games down the road too.

Masset was just getting creamed last night. Everything was hit hard, even the singles.

RedsManRick
04-21-2010, 10:15 AM
All I'm saying, is that that is a big assumption.

Though it seems counter-intuitive, the safe assumption is that he'll be more like he was last year and for his career from this point forward.

From a statistical perspective, 7 IP tells us basically nothing. Sure, we can explain why he has a crazy ERA -- my eyes go to 6 walks (7.7 BB/9), 2 HR (2.57 HR/9), a .587 BABIP, and a 49.4 LOB%. But 7 innings isn't even in the same state as a predictive sample. We should be careful in describing this. Yes, Masset has pitched quite poorly. But pitching quite poorly over 7 IP tells us basically nothing about how good of a pitcher he is generally and how well he'll pitch moving forward.

The only relevant observations as this point would come from a scouting report that says something has fundamentally shifted in his ability to pitch -- and I've certainly not heard that. Per Brutus' point, he was indeed a bit lucky last year. But our best bet for his performance moving forward is something like a 7.5 K/9, a 3.5 BB/9, and a 1.0 HR/9 -- a FIP in the 4.00 range. We should be careful not to just look as his season ERA, because it's going to be difficult for him to get his season ERA back down to normal. But looking at just this point forward, there's no reason to be worried.

forfreelin04
04-21-2010, 11:15 AM
That's the diagnosis that Dr. Pimp has given the ailing, aching Nick Masset.

I'm advising better command, keep the ball down in the zone, bed rest and let karma take care of the rest. Otherwise, there's not much of an antidote for this catharsis.

Yes, in baseball, it's true what goes up must come down. Masset, in albeit an extremely limited sample, is quickly finding himself needing a hug and pep talk from Tony Robbins.

Last year, Masset was the benefactor of fortuitous .250 BABIP, somewhat lucky 80% strand rate and a lovely 9.5% HR/FB ratio. That's not to say his 2.37 ERA was all luck - after all, he struck out more than 8 batters per nine innings and walked fewer than three. He legitimately had a good season.

But this illness shows no mercy sometimes.

In 2010, Masset has already given up a pair of homers despite just four flyballs surrendered. He's getting scorched to the tune of 32% line drives despite a career 17% number. The end result is that 12 of 20 balls in play have fallen for hits - a .600 BABIP.

I didn't need med school for this opinion. Fortunately, I didn't go to med school, but I digress.

In any event, not all is lost. I still feel Masset will be fine. He's striking out a ridiculous 15.4 batters per nine innings (12 in 7 IP). His walks will need to come down (6 in 7 innings), but once all the other stats normalize, he should have a good season.

Pimp,

I know we talked in the OD game thread about this being possibility. I hope I didn't jinx Massett. He's a huge part of that bullpen and the Reds will go nowhere unless he succeeds.

I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but it might be possible he's tipping his pitches. If you look at the replay on Kemp's home run, its almost if he knew it was an offspeed pitch and he knew to go down and get it. Typically the reaction to a pitch of that velocity is not nearly as quick as Kemp's was. Not to say Kemp is not a phenomenal ballplayer but it did seem like he knew what was coming. You could also make the argument that other players knew too. They seemed to be peppering him pretty good.

Also, Massett seems to have his lost his concentration with runners on base. For the second straight game he's pitched, he's totally ignored the runner on 1st base. He gave Ramon no chance against Furcal last night and did the same with McCutchen running in Pittsburgh.

Mechanically speaking, it appears that he's overthrowing a large number of his sliders and even his fastball from time to time. He's falling off the mound Cueto style and its truly hurting his control. What's worse is that he's spying over his left shoulder when he releases the baseball. This causes less bite on each of his pitches and when put in the zone make them pretty flat.

I'm a novice at saber but from what I'm gathering he's due for a regress. I think Massett has filthy enough pitches to still have a successful season, but I don't think his dominance will return until he fixes a few things.

You could make the argument that closers are consistent but setup men aren't. If they were, they would be closers. That's why a guy like Rhodes is so hard to find.

nate
04-21-2010, 11:29 AM
Though it seems counter-intuitive, the safe assumption is that he'll be more like he was last and for his career from this point forward.

From a statistical perspective, 7 IP tells us basically nothing. Sure, we can explain why he has a crazy ERA -- my eyes go to 6 walks (7.7 BB/9), 2 HR (2.57 HR/9), a .587 BABIP, and a 49.4 LOB%. But 7 innings isn't even in the same state as a predictive sample. We should be careful in describing this. Yes, Masset has pitched quite poorly. But pitching quite poorly over 7 IP tells us basically nothing about how good of a pitch he is and will be moving forward.

The only relevant observations as this point would be a scouting report that says something has fundamentally shifted in his ability to pitch -- and I've certainly not heard that. Per Brutus' point, he was indeed a bit lucky last year. But our best bet for his performance moving forward is something like a 7.5 K/9, a 3.5 BB/9, and a 1.0 HR/9 -- a FIP in the 4.00 range. We should be careful not to just look as his season ERA, because it's going to be difficult for him to get his season ERA back down to normal. But looking at just this point forward, there's no reason to be worried.

Exactly. Tiny sample size coupled with him being a reliever are going to make ERA even more inaccurate at measuring how "good" he is than it already is.

Does he strike guys out? Walk them? Give up home runs? That's what I need to know. He's not done well with that so far but I can find a 7 inning segment of nearly any reliever that's as bad as Masset's current line.

forfreelin04
04-21-2010, 11:34 AM
Could be that there are two more games to play in this series and he may need Rhodes - who is no spring chicken - for tomorrow or Thursday. You don't always manage for that particular game. You manage for games down the road too.

Masset was just getting creamed last night. Everything was hit hard, even the singles.

Chip,

I agree with you, but its sad when that's the case. The argument for keeping Rhodes fresh for tomorrow is really based on the lack of quality starting pitching.

If Rhodes pitches the 8th, he likely just sit today and can still pitch tomorrow.

I'm not for ruining a guys arms, but Rhodes had plenty still left in the tank. I don't blame Dusty for bringing Masset in the game since his track record shows he can put guys away. However, your up 4 runs in 8th. You expect to win the game. So let Rhodes get the final 2 outs in the 8th, bring in Coco in the 9th who is on 2 days rest. Then Rhodes is unavailible in Game 2, but Massett is fresh along with Owings. Now Baker has one bullpen pitcher who didn't throw in yesterday's game. ONE!

I guess I'm an advocate that if you have a nice lead, don't get cute with your bullpen. Dusty says "My bullpen needs rest". Well sure they do, the starters stink, but when you have a chance to rest them; rest them.

Chip R
04-21-2010, 12:01 PM
Chip,

I agree with you, but its sad when that's the case. The argument for keeping Rhodes fresh for tomorrow is really based on the lack of quality starting pitching.

If Rhodes pitches the 8th, he likely just sit today and can still pitch tomorrow.

I'm not for ruining a guys arms, but Rhodes had plenty still left in the tank. I don't blame Dusty for bringing Masset in the game since his track record shows he can put guys away. However, your up 4 runs in 8th. You expect to win the game. So let Rhodes get the final 2 outs in the 8th, bring in Coco in the 9th who is on 2 days rest. Then Rhodes is unavailible in Game 2, but Massett is fresh along with Owings. Now Baker has one bullpen pitcher who didn't throw in yesterday's game. ONE!

I guess I'm an advocate that if you have a nice lead, don't get cute with your bullpen. Dusty says "My bullpen needs rest". Well sure they do, the starters stink, but when you have a chance to rest them; rest them.


It is sad. If Homer had been able to finish the 6th, Using Masset and Cordero may not have even been necessary. Cordero wouldn't have even come in if there were a 4 run lead because it wasn't a save situation. When the lead was cut to 3, Cordero started warming up.

It does go back to the starters. If anyone of them could give you more than 6 innings pitched, you might not have to worry about tiring out a guy like Rhodes.

Brutus
04-21-2010, 12:37 PM
Pimp,

I know we talked in the OD game thread about this being possibility. I hope I didn't jinx Massett. He's a huge part of that bullpen and the Reds will go nowhere unless he succeeds.

I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but it might be possible he's tipping his pitches. If you look at the replay on Kemp's home run, its almost if he knew it was an offspeed pitch and he knew to go down and get it. Typically the reaction to a pitch of that velocity is not nearly as quick as Kemp's was. Not to say Kemp is not a phenomenal ballplayer but it did seem like he knew what was coming. You could also make the argument that other players knew too. They seemed to be peppering him pretty good.

Also, Massett seems to have his lost his concentration with runners on base. For the second straight game he's pitched, he's totally ignored the runner on 1st base. He gave Ramon no chance against Furcal last night and did the same with McCutchen running in Pittsburgh.

Mechanically speaking, it appears that he's overthrowing a large number of his sliders and even his fastball from time to time. He's falling off the mound Cueto style and its truly hurting his control. What's worse is that he's spying over his left shoulder when he releases the baseball. This causes less bite on each of his pitches and when put in the zone make them pretty flat.

I'm a novice at saber but from what I'm gathering he's due for a regress. I think Massett has filthy enough pitches to still have a successful season, but I don't think his dominance will return until he fixes a few things.

You could make the argument that closers are consistent but setup men aren't. If they were, they would be closers. That's why a guy like Rhodes is so hard to find.

I had not considered the tipping pitches possibility. It's certainly not impossible and may well be part of the explanation. To me, though, it seems like he's getting behind on counts and he's just been predictable with grooving a fastball on 2-0, 2-1 and 3-1 counts. He has hung one or two curves in there as well, but it seems like most of the damage has come off a fastball in the upper half of the zone.

He was due for at least a slight regression. It's very rare that relievers have two straight seasons of sub-3 ERA unless their peripherals supported it. He probably would be in the 3's this year based on quality over the course of the season. That might be tricky with this early implosion, as it could be hard to make up that much ground (considering he's already given up more than 10 runs).

I still believe in Masset. I think he's got terrific stuff, and when he's not struggling with his command, he can be filthy when he gets ahead of hitters.

forfreelin04
04-21-2010, 02:27 PM
I had not considered the tipping pitches possibility. It's certainly not impossible and may well be part of the explanation. To me, though, it seems like he's getting behind on counts and he's just been predictable with grooving a fastball on 2-0, 2-1 and 3-1 counts. He has hung one or two curves in there as well, but it seems like most of the damage has come off a fastball in the upper half of the zone.

He was due for at least a slight regression. It's very rare that relievers have two straight seasons of sub-3 ERA unless their peripherals supported it. He probably would be in the 3's this year based on quality over the course of the season. That might be tricky with this early implosion, as it could be hard to make up that much ground (considering he's already given up more than 10 runs).

I still believe in Masset. I think he's got terrific stuff, and when he's not struggling with his command, he can be filthy when he gets ahead of hitters.


A third explanation for Masett's performance yesterday is the more likely one. The Dodger offense is flat out great. I was falling in love with their plate approaches all night. Personally, I thought Bailey really settled down after the first few innings and was making quality pitches. The 4th and 5th innings he looked real sharp but the Dodger hitters were very pesky. Blake imparticular was solid at fouling off quality pitches and most of the others were very patient. That's a credit to Don Mattingly.

TheNext44
04-21-2010, 04:01 PM
Though it seems counter-intuitive, the safe assumption is that he'll be more like he was last year and for his career from this point forward.

From a statistical perspective, 7 IP tells us basically nothing. Sure, we can explain why he has a crazy ERA -- my eyes go to 6 walks (7.7 BB/9), 2 HR (2.57 HR/9), a .587 BABIP, and a 49.4 LOB%. But 7 innings isn't even in the same state as a predictive sample. We should be careful in describing this. Yes, Masset has pitched quite poorly. But pitching quite poorly over 7 IP tells us basically nothing about how good of a pitcher he is generally and how well he'll pitch moving forward.

The only relevant observations as this point would come from a scouting report that says something has fundamentally shifted in his ability to pitch -- and I've certainly not heard that. Per Brutus' point, he was indeed a bit lucky last year. But our best bet for his performance moving forward is something like a 7.5 K/9, a 3.5 BB/9, and a 1.0 HR/9 -- a FIP in the 4.00 range. We should be careful not to just look as his season ERA, because it's going to be difficult for him to get his season ERA back down to normal. But looking at just this point forward, there's no reason to be worried.

But my point wasn't about the 7 innings he's pitched this year. It was about the small size of the innings he pitched last year. I think it's a big assumption that sample represents Masset's true talent level.

Masset pitched 76 innings last year, mostly one inning at a time. That's about a third of what a starting pitcher pitches. I think it's safe to say that one could find 76 innings in a starters season that were as good as Masset's and that starter could easily still have a bad season overall. Would you say that a pitchers stats after the first 12 starts of his career will be enough to predict how he will do the rest of his career?

He also pitched one inning a game most of the time. That means that very few hitters ever saw him more than once, and almost none more than twice. That was his first full season in MLB. It probably took to the end of last season to get a good scouting report on him. I think it's clear that now they do.

I agree that these 7 innings don't tell us much, but neither do the 76 innings he pitched last year. This gets to Ron Maddon's point about relievers being so volatile. An average pitcher can look really good for a whole season, with a little luck, but eventually his true talent gets revealed. Bobby Cox and Whitey Herzog used to exploit this by running out a lot AAA fodder for half a season or more, then replacing them with different AAA fodder, over and over again.

I doubt Masset is as bad as the 7 innings he's pitched this year, but I still think it's a big assumption to think that the 76 innings he pitched last year are a true reflection of his talent.

Hoosier Red
04-21-2010, 05:11 PM
Masset pitched 76 innings last year, mostly one inning at a time. That's about a third of what a starting pitcher pitches. I think it's safe to say that one could find 76 innings in a starters season that were as good as Masset's and that starter could easily still have a bad season overall. Would you say that a pitchers stats after the first 12 starts of his career will be enough to predict how he will do the rest of his career?




I think it would be hard to find a random sample of 76 innings that looked as good as Massett's last year in a guy who say had a 5 ERA over 200 innings.

You could find 76 innings if you were trying to cherry pick sure, but a random sample would be pretty tough. That's why the 76 innings last year were much more representative than the 7 innings this year.

That's not to say your other points about only facing a lot of guys once, and being able to go only 1 inning in spurts didn't play a role. But just wanted to clarify a small thing.

TheNext44
04-21-2010, 05:19 PM
I think it would be hard to find a random sample of 76 innings that looked as good as Massett's last year in a guy who say had a 5 ERA over 200 innings.

You could find 76 innings if you were trying to cherry pick sure, but a random sample would be pretty tough. That's why the 76 innings last year were much more representative than the 7 innings this year.

That's not to say your other points about only facing a lot of guys once, and being able to go only 1 inning in spurts didn't play a role. But just wanted to clarify a small thing.

I agree. But you could find a 70+ inning stretch on many pitchers with ERA of 5+ for a season, that was decent, if you did cherry pick. Which means that even bad pitchers frequently have decent stretches of at least 70 innings. Which means that Masset could actually be a 5+ ERA pitcher talent wise, and we just haven't seen enough innings for it to be revealed.

70 innings tells you a lot more than 7 innings, that's for sure, but it still doesn't tell you enough, in my opinion.

RedsManRick
04-21-2010, 06:35 PM
But my point wasn't about the 7 innings he's pitched this year. It was about the small size of the innings he pitched last year. I think it's a big assumption that sample represents Masset's true talent level.

I agree. It's reasonable to expect some regression from last year's displayed skills back towards his prior career averages. This is the fundamental problem with relievers. They just don't pitch enough for us to have a very good idea of how well they can pitch, particularly earlier in their careers when they are likely at their most effective. But I don't think anybody is asserting otherwise.

Brutus' premise in the first post was that we shouldn't over-react to Masset's bad start. He does have some real skills as a pitcher and will likely perform at his "true skill" level moving forward. Whether that level is equivilent to a 3.00 ERA, 4.00, 4.50 or something else is up for discussion.

When I look at his career's body of work, I see a guy with a true skill level in the 4.00 range. The figures I listed as reasonable expectations reflect this and are a good deal worse than what Masset put up last year.

M2
04-21-2010, 08:11 PM
But my point wasn't about the 7 innings he's pitched this year. It was about the small size of the innings he pitched last year. I think it's a big assumption that sample represents Masset's true talent level.

100% correct. I'm not sure there's more than a handful of relievers in MLB for whom we know their true talent level. It's like asking "What color is that chameleon?"