It is time once again to revisit the Quality Relief Outing statistics to see how this changes reflect what is happening in the standings and what may be on the horizon within the division.
RA = Relief Appearances: Total # of Relief Appearances
QRO = Quality Relief Outing: # of Appearances where more outs are recorded than hits + walks and a 3.00 ERA is maintained for the relief appearance.
FRO = Failed Relief Outing: # of Appearances where earned runs are allowed, inherited runners score or no outs are recorded. (See ERA allowance in the QRO description
ND = No Decision. Does not meet the criteria for a QRO or a FRO
QAR = Quality Appearance Ratio: QRO/RA
FAR = Failed Appearance Ratio: FRO/RA
This week as we close to 6 weeks from the non waiver trade deadline I decided to provide statistics on every reliever in the NL Central. The past week has seen teams traveling in opposite directions as quickly as possible. The Milwaukee Brewers have improved over the past 4 weeks by a steady one percent each week. The amazing success they have had since the first examination of their bullpen is no fluke. They have gradually and consistently improved and since May 20th they have recorded a record of 18 wins vs. only 8 losses. A combination of offensive production, solid starting pitching and an improving bullpen have made the difference. One note for Reds fans, Daniel Ray Herrera was called up by the Brewers after being claimed on waivers from the Reds and failed in his only appearance.
The Cardinals, still tenaciously holding onto 2nd place cannot claim the same relief from the pen. The Cards dropped a percent in Quality Appearance Ratio as they had 8 successful appearances and 10 failed outing this week.
It is easy to focus on the Brewers and Cardinals. They are the teams every expert suggested would be the best in the Central along with Cincinnati. We are not alone. The Pittsburgh Pirates have quietly reentered the race and are sitting a game behind the Reds as we return inter league play. The Pirates bullpen is not responsible for this surge instead they have relied on excellent starting pitching and timely hitting. In spite of this attention must be given to closer Joel Hanrahan who continues to deliver excellence almost every time he steps out of the dugout. If I had a vote, the manager of the year to this point is Clint Hurdle. He is using predominantly the same team as last year with a season of experience for the budding stars on this squad. Hurdle has changed even the language of the fans in Pittsburgh. In 16 years most sports radio in the Burg ignores the Pirates or pokes fun at them. This year with the disruption in NFL news and the Penguins injury ridden season the Pirates are the talk of the town. The talk is positive, forward thinking and hopeful. Given the ease of the Pirates schedule moving into the All Star break a majority of fans believe the Pirates can take over the division lead. While I think that is reaching a bit, the fact they are even having the conversation is a massive shift in in the attitude of the fan base. Hurdle has performed the unimaginable.
At the bottom of the division are the two teams no one else in the division ever wants to drop a game to in order to be competitive among the contenders. The Cubs continue to be terrible. Their starting pitching, defense and run support are all lacking but they still have the best bullpen in the division. In particular, Carlos Marmol has succeeded at an amazing 87% rate. The best in the division.
Finally I return to our own Cincinnati Reds to end this overview. Fransisco Cordero is the cream of the Reds crop and while Bray and Ondrusek are better than the team average they are still not among the division leaders. Notable for the Reds this week is the poor performance of Jose Arredondo who failed in 4 consecutive outings. I have felt for a while that the Reds should shop Ramon Hernandez and pick up a quality reliever. These reports provides a small shopping list and as I suggested a week ago the Giants might have just what the doctor ordered in their pen. It is at least worth opening a dialogue.
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