Your starting pitcher has just given you six quality innings and your team either has the lead or is tied heading into the seventh. How often do you expect your bullpen to pull out a victory? If you are the 2007 Boston Red Sox, you’ll win 90% of the time. If you are the Cincinnati Reds, it’s only 67% of the time. Here is the kicker. Boston was ahead or tied after 6 innings 95 times in 2007. Cincinnati was in the same boat 94 times. The difference in success and mediocrity came down to the bullpen. This is the case all over baseball. This is why three quality arms in your pen will win you games.
The Reds money was well spent on Cordero. He gives them a chance.
I don’t care about your mop-up guys. Let them eat up some innings and develop their young talent until they can actually contribute. I am talking about when the game is on the line and you have to bring in 3 guys to nail down that win. Those 3 guys are the most important on your team. If you have to pay to get them, so be it. They are your true bullpen. In 2008, those guys will be Jared Burton, David Weathers and Francisco Cordero in Cincinnati.
Let’s look at the numbers. The top 8 teams in baseball last season were: Boston (96-66), Cleveland (96-66), New York Yankees (94-68), LA of Anaheim (94-68), Colorado (90-73), Arizona (90-72), Philly (89-73), and Seattle (88-74). In that order, games in which they were tied or ahead after 6 innings were 95, 100, 105, 93, 97, 96, 90, 97. Cincinnati would have fallen right in to that group. On average, they converted a win in 84% of those games (tops being Boston’s 90% and LA and Seattle with 87%).
Obviously, heroic come-from-behind victories complete your total number of wins after the ahead or tied games are converted. Cincinnati had 9 of those in 2007. The top 8 teams in baseball ranged from 6 - 13 wins after trailing late. Again, the Reds would have fallen right in with the group.
The dreaded 7th-8th-9th bullpen rotation is why every team either sucks or dominates. Most teams in baseball have a chance after 6 innings in 90-95 games every year. If you solidify those roles, and they stay healthy, you win. Period. Burton (with a 2.51 ERA), David Weathers (Cincinnati was 62-1 when leading after 8, he was a big part) and Cordero (converted 44 of 51 save opportunities) solidify Cincinnati’s true bullpen.
Comparing Cincinnati at 72-90 last season with Seattle at 88-74 (where we want to be), you can see the importance. The Reds were 63-31 in 94 games tied or ahead after 6, winning 9 additional games after trailing. Seattle went 78-12 in only 90 games ahead or tied after 6, adding 10 come-from-behind victories. The difference was 7th-8th-9th conversion.
Bottom line, if Cincinnati converted 84% of those 94 chances for 79 wins and added 9 come from behind wins, they go 88-74 and win the Central. I am confident (going off of the 2007 performances of Burton, Weathers and Cordero) that the Reds can convert that 84% in 2008. Cincinnati did not have that third guy in 2007. That is why Fransisco Cordero makes them an instant contender.
If you agree with me, run over to the Cutman’s (Alan Cutler) blog and vote yes. If not, you can go vote no if you want. Plus, check out the last picture of Marty and Joe.