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Bad Beats

   by Ben Burns - 06/01/2009

There have been just 44 complete games tossed through the first two months of the season.

They have occurred in less than six (5.8) percent of this year’s games.

In contrast, there have been 209 blown saves—about 28 percent of games--already this year.

So, sooner or later, every baseball bettor is going to be devastated by a bullpen meltdown.

But Toronto’s 12-10 loss to Baltimore on Wednesday, which featured a mega-bullpen meltdown, was just plain wrong.

Blue Jay ace Roy Halladay took the mound as a mid-range favorite (-147). Halladay pitched admirably and had the Jays in position to end an eight-game losing streak. He was relieved with a seemingly comfortable 8-3 lead in the eighth.

The fact that the Orioles were 0-24 when trailing after seven innings made what ensued all the more painful.

It took Toronto reliever Jesse Carlson all of one out to give up the five-run lead. But it could have been worse. The Blue Jays threw out Adam Jones, the potential go-ahead run, at the plate to keep the game tied at eight.

After a scoreless ninth inning, Toronto’s Aaron Hill breathed some life back into the Blue Jays with a two-run homer in the 10th. It was the first home run for the Jays in 78 innings and gave them their first double-digit scoring output since May 6.

But Toronto’s bullpen was determined to screw this one up. Brian Wolfe surrendered an RBI single to Luke Scott and then served up a three-run homer to Nolan Reimold, sending the Jays to their ninth straight loss.

Ouch.

The morale of the story is: With the number of complete games dwindling on a yearly basis, the importance of handicapping the bullpen has increased significantly. Here is quick look at the top 5 and bottom 5 bullpens in baseball heading into June. You can find more bullpen stats right here.

Top 5 Bullpens

1. Boston: 2.90 ERA; .236 BA.

2. N.Y. Mets: 2.95 ERA; .242 BA.

3. Milwaukee: 3.22 ERA; .210 BA.

4. St. Louis: 3.47; .213 BA

5. Cincinnati: 3.53 ERA; .239 BA.

Bottom 5 Bullpens

30. L.A. Angels: 5.86 ERA; .297 BA.

29. Washington: 5.85 ERA; .278 BA.

28. Colorado: 5.38 ERA; .304 BA.

27. N.Y. Yankees: 5.12 ERA; .255 BA.

26. Baltimore: 5.04; .274 BA.

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