Washington Nationals: April Pitching Review - The Relievers

MLB Delivery Man of the Month Matt Capps

 

Yesterday we looked at the Nationals starting pitchers, their command of the strike zone, and their effectiveness against opposing batters. In 2009, there were 717,003 pitches thrown, 329,641 (46%) were thrown in the strike zone. In April 2010, MLB pitchers threw 103,076 pitches, 46,135 (44.8%) on the zone. While some Nats starters had periodic trouble recording outs, only Jason Marquis had trouble finding the strike zone (30.7%) in April.  

The Nats bullpen has been a treat to watch this year. Matt Capps won the MLB Delivery Man of the Month award for his April efforts 10-for-10 in save situations, 0.68 ERA, 15 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings, and Tyler Clippard is pitching like a real set-up man. Let's look how the pen performed in April.

Matt Capps

Matt Capps faced 59 batters and threw 216 pitches in April.

Cappsapril_medium

Capps located 42% of his pitches in the zone. Compared to the starters, he threw a much larger percentage of his pitches up in the zone.  (Only Livan Hernandez threw a similar percentage of high pitches.) The only area where opposing batters had any success at all against Capps was in the middle of the zone - approximately thigh high.

Tyler Clippard

Tyler Clippard threw 310 pitches against 72 batters. Clippard led the pen in pitches thrown and tied Batista in batters faced.

Clippardapril_medium

Clippard found the zone with 40% of his pitches. He also relied on the high heat to retire opposing batters, with a large percentage of pitches above the zone. Looking at his opponents AVG per location, you see an unsustainable 20 of 25 regions where opposing batters have yet to record 1 hit. There are only 2 regions where the opposition is hitting above .300 - both in the middle of the plate.

Miguel Batista

MIguel Batista faced 72 batters while throwing 253 pitches. 

Batistaapril_medium

Batista threw 36% of his pitches in the strike zone, walking 11 and striking out 8. Notice that he hardly threw any pitches outside to right handed batters. Batista threw most of his pitches from the center of the plate to the inside of right handed hitter (2/3 of the batters Batista faced in April were righties). Opposing batters were successful looking for pitches on the inside half of the plate - hitting above .300 in most regions.

Brian Bruney

Brian Bruney threw 233 pitches to 57 batters.

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42% of Bruney's pitches crossed the zone, resulting in 12 walks and 8 strikeouts. Opposing batters are having a field day with pitches thrown high and inside to righties, batting 1.000. Pitches thrown low and in to lefty's are being powered at an alarming 2.500 SLG. (Bruney has faced 45% left handed batters).

Tyler Walker

Walker threw 159 pitches to 48 batters.

Walkerapril_medium

Walker threw 55.9% of his pitches in the strike zone. Despite the tragic moniker for a pitcher, this resulted in only 1 walk and 14 strike outs. Walker did get knocked around in the middle and upper part of the strike zone. He also threw 13% of his pitches right down main street, which batters returned for a .400 AVG. If Walker can just stop throwing the ball down the center of the plate, he will improve his chances of being a valuable contributor to the Nats pen.

Jesse English

Jesse English faced 33 batters and threw 124 pitches.

Englishapril_medium

51% of English's pitches found the strike zone. Jesse English was a pleasant surprise in the pen. He threw 7 innings, gave up 3 earned runs, struck out 4 while only walking 2. Opponents had little trouble hitting pitches up in the zone, but English found success when he kept the ball down.

Sean Burnett

Burnett has only thrown 80 pitches to 20 batters - not enough to evaluate.

Burnettapril_medium

Summing Up the Pen

For the first time in recent memory, the Nats bullpen looks like it belongs in the major leagues. Every pen has its ups and downs throughout the season, and this season will be no different. Well 2010 already is different - this year they've had ups! Capps and Clippard are pitching at a pace that is sure to hit a few bumps, but Drew Storen is on the way to add another quality arm. This pen has the stuff to keep teams in games until the end.

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