Scioscia's Bullpens

So, as most of you know, the Angels pitching staff has been the definition of schizophrenic this year. We lead the league in starters’ ERA, and are last in the league in relief ERA. (I would bet, without looking it up, that that has never been done over a whole season in ML history.)

Anyway, in some of the comments on this site I have seen people argue that hey, we always have the best bullpen in the league, it’s just an aberration, cut Scioscia some slack, etc. While I agree with the macro sentiment -- there’s no way the bullpen will continue sucking this hard, and Scioscia is generally da bomb -- it just is no longer true that we have a reliably great bullpen year after year. The chart below shows starter & reliever ERA during Scioscia’s tenure, the difference between the two, and the ranking of each within the league. Check it out:

Year  SP   Rk   RP   Rk   Diff
2009 3.84 (1)  5.69 (14) -1.85
2008 4.14 (5)  3.69 (4)  +0.45
2007 4.22 (3)  4.24 (8)  -0.02
2006 4.16 (2)  3.78 (5)  +0.38
2005 3.78 (1)  3.75 (5)  +0.03
2004 4.70 (4)  3.47 (1)  +1.23
2003 4.90 (11) 3.15 (1)  +1.75
2002 4.00 (4)  2.98 (1)  +1.02
2001 4.49 (7)  3.54 (4)  +0.95
2000 5.54 (12) 4.16 (2)  +1.39

As you can see, we basically had the league’s best bullpen the first half of the decade, and have been toggling between good and mediocre ever since. Meanwhile, among the many ways Scioscia has transformed the character and composition of this franchise, we have gone from a sucky rotation to a reliably great one even when dipping down 8 and 9 places on the depth chart.

What does it all mean? If nothing else, I think it demonstrates one of the principles of competition -- reputation outlives fact. It also underscores what I’ve thought all along: 2009 is a transition year for the bullpen, and so far it has been a disappointment not just on the results level, but in the fact that we haven’t seen much development from the guys who are supposed to be the Bullpen of the Future: Arredondo, Jepsen, Bulger, Thompson. There was a time when the organization could pull donkeys out of a hat and produce brilliance year after year, but we are long gone from those days. Also, Troy Percival and Frankie Rodriquez were both really good pitchers, and we’ve enjoyed very good Scot Shields all the way until now.

This Fan-Post is authored by an independent fan. Tell us what you think and how you feel.

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