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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 yearâ€™s games.
In contrast, there have been 209 blown savesâ€”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 Torontoâ€™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, Torontoâ€™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 Torontoâ€™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.
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.