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by ASA - 04/29/2009
Struggling â€“ Florida Marlins
After a red hot 11-1 start, the Fish have dropped seven in a row in large part due to the ineffectiveness of their bullpen. During that seven game losing streak, Marlin relievers have allowed 23 earned runs in just 19.2 innings. Theyâ€™ve also issued 15 walks during that stretch which means 38 runners have reached on base in less than 20 innings for a WHIP of nearly 2.00.
Young Florida starters, Christopher Volstad and Anibal Sanchez, have pitched well but donâ€™t eat up a lot of innings. Floridaâ€™s #1 starter, Ricky Nolasco, has struggled this season with an ERA approaching 7.00. Not only that, heâ€™s only averaging about five innings per start which has taken an extra, unexpected toll on the bullpen. Most of their top middle relievers have already been overworked just 19 games into the season. Kiko Calero (11 appearances), Renyel Pinto (10), Dan Meyer and Leo Nunez (9) have all been on the mound too often to start the 2009 season.
The back end of the pen has really been an issue. Closer Matt Lindstrom has blown two of his five save attempts. His ERA is a lofty 10.80 and he has allowed a whopping 15 base runners in just 6.2 innings pitched. Despite a recent vote of confidence from manager Fredi Gonzalez, if Lindstrom and his 100 MPH fastball continue to blow up late in games a change will need to be made.
Thriving â€“ Oakland Aâ€™s
You definitely cannot blame the Aâ€™s marginal 7-10 record to open the season on the bullpen. An offense that is scoring only four runs per game and a schedule that has seen them already play 11 games vs. the tough A.L. East (none vs. Baltimore) have been the main reasons for the semi-slow start.
The Oakland bullpen looks like it will be one of the best in baseball. They currently have an ERA of just 2.62 which is second in the Majors with opposing hitters clipping along at just a .182 average. Closer Brad Ziegler has been solid so far this season with an ERA of 1.74. Oakland added a couple of key set up men in the off-season in Michael Wuertz (1.69 ERA) who came over from the Cubs and Russ Springer (0.96 ERA) who was with St. Louis a year ago.
This bullpen is under rated right now. As the young starting staff develops and is able to pitch deeper into games, it will only help these already solid relievers. Also, it will only help matters as Oakland gets to distance themselves from their tough early season schedule.
OTHER BULLPEN SNIPPETS
Houston Astros â€“ Closer Jose Valverde has struggled this year and does not appear to be at 100%. His ailing shin is giving him problems and while he will most likely avoid the DL for now, he will be sidelined for at least a few more games.
Kansas City Royals â€“ Closer Joakim Soria, who already has five saves on the season, has a sore shoulder. He has not pitched in a game since April 22nd and simply played catch in the bullpen on Sunday to get his blood flowing. He wonâ€™t rush back so donâ€™t expect him back on the mound this week.
Milwaukee Brewers â€“ Trevor Hoffman, who was acquired from San Diego in the off-season, made his first appearance on Monday night after coming off the DL. He pitched a scoreless 9th inning which is music to Milwaukeeâ€™s ears as they have already blown seven saves this season.