The 2012 edition of the Greeneville Astros had a strong bullpen. Let's take a look at some of the guys who came in to hold onto leads and cleanup other player's messes during the season.
My expectations for relief pitchers is to: not let inherited runners score, not let any runners score, throw strikes and keep the ball in the yard. I have put together a chart of the stats that are meaningful to me from the 2012 season for the eight relievers who appeared in the most games for the G-Stros this year. This chart looks at the following data:
Relief Games - Simply the number of times they took the ball in relief.
Innings Pitched - Gives you an idea if they were a long reliever (Garcia) or a one batter specialist (Zuloaga).
Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched (WHIP) - How many batters did they allow to reach base per inning pitched. In other words, did they throw gas on the fire.
Runners Left on Base % (LOB %) - How many guys did someone from the dugout have to bring them their glove. That is a lovely sight for a reliever. The league average for major league pitchers according to fangraphs is 70% to 72%. Thanks to fangraphs for providing this stat for minor league pitchers.
Strikeouts - Best way to avoid further damage is to get an out without the ball being put in play.
Strikeouts/Walks (K/BB) - Some pitchers with high strike outs also tend to walk batters.
Home Runs Allowed - All pitchers are supposed to keep the ball in the yard.
The * after the LOB% is to reflect that Bushue & Hauschild both had one start and there was no way to separate that outing from their relief appearances in that stat.
With those numbers in mind, let's review the production of these eight guys.
Jordan Jankowski was a strike out machine with his slider. He struck out 53 batters in 32 1/3 IP. To put that in perspective, in 2011, the team lead for strikeouts was 49 by a starter! He stranded 80.9% of runners on base. At 23, he is clearly ready for another challenge. It will be interesting to see which full season team he breaks camp with next year.
Mike Hauschild didn't have the strikeout numbers of Jankowski but he was almost as solid out of the pen. He left 82.9% of runners on base to end innings. He also had a solid 1.061 WHIP as a reliever and didn't allow a home run. At 22, Hauschild is also ready for a higher level of play. I expect he will be in full season ball next year.
Andrew Walter was repeating short season ball in 2012 and joined Greeneville in time to make 13 appearances. He stranded an amazing 93.3% of runners. He struggled some with walks in Greeneville. He gave up three HR but they were all solo shots. He will be 22 when players report next spring.
Scott Zuloaga was the lone lefty in the pen for much of this year. The sidewinder was repeating this year and was used in mostly match up situations. He left 75% of runners on base. He had five scoreless outings after his promotion to Tri Cities late in the season. He will be 23 when camp starts next season.
Christian Garcia pitched the most innings out of the pen, averaging almost two innings each outing. While he stranded 75.5% of base runners, he also allowed a great many as well with a 1.398 WHIP. He was just 20 this season, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him back in Greeneville or in TriCities next season.
Zach Dando was in Greeneville for his second season. He pitched one more inning than last year but allowed six less earned runs. He appeared to be working on pitching to contact more often. He left 68.3% of runners on base to end innings. He will be 22 when spring training comes around.
Michael Dimock struck out 36 batters in 30 innings pitched and struck out four batters for every one batter he walked. His stranded rate wasn't great at 57.1% but I am going to go out on a limb and say he was unlucky. His fielding independent pitching (FIP) was 1.70 which is significantly lower than his season ERA of 4.21. He will be 23 when spring training begins next March.
And finally, I want to talk about a guy I have heard more than a few folks write off as a lost cause. Tanner Bushue was drafted in the 2nd round in 2009 out of high school. He has bounced between GCL and Lexington for much of the last two years. When he got off to a rough start in Lexington this year he was sent to Greeneville to figure it out. It took two months but it looks like he has figured something out. For the month of August, he appeared in 7 games, pitching 15 2/3 innings. In those outings, he fanned 23 batters and only walked five. He had a WHIP under one for the month and an ERA of 0.57. The curve ball was breaking off and he was throwing it for strikes. He may not be the prospect he was when drafted, but I am not ready to throw him on the junk pile of used pitchers yet either. Let's give him another year. I wouldn't be surprised to see him more out of the pen in the future as well.
Next we will recap the catchers for the year.