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Looking at the Projected Bullpen

We're running out of things to project, so today I'll just wrap up our bullpen projections and take a look at what we have. I think most of us feel that this is a pretty solid, if unspectacular, bullpen, and the results of the projections seem to reaffirm that.

The list of the actual projected ERAs for everybody is pretty long, so I'll spare the details and just bring the highlights. Here's the actual results for the closer and set-up man.

Trevor Hoffman: 3.9 ERA, 59 innings, 1.71 leverage

Carlos Villanueva: 3.4 ERA, 81.7 innings, 1.3 leverage

I'm proud to say that we managed to average out the leverages at exactly one, which is necessary for this.

I did a few calculations to put these numbers in an easier, more general form. It's the same thing as yesterday-- pitching runs above replacement. There's two changes in our calculation, though. First, replacement-level relief pitching in the NL is about 4.45 instead of the 5.37 I used for starters yesterday. Second, I'm multiplying the relievers runs saved in relationship to a replacement-level pitcher by his projected leverage. A run saved by a closer with a 1.7 leverage is, on average, 1.7 times more important than each run saved by a starter or by a reliever with an average leverage index. For the same reason, a run saved by a mop-up man with a .5 projected leverage index is about half as important as average. The rule for this is (4.45 - ProjERA) / 9 * ProjIP * Lev =RAR. Again, that number is the number of runs each pitcher would save in relation to a replacement-level pitcher pitching the same exact innings. 

So on to the results.

Hoffman: + 6 Runs

Villanueva: +12.4 Runs

Riske: +3 Runs

Stetter: +7 Runs

Swindle: +3.5 Runs

Julio: +.3 Runs

Dillard: +1.2 Runs

DiFelice: +1 Run

Morlan: 0 Runs

Coffey: +2 Runs

Adding this up, I get a bullpen that looks to be between 3 and 4 wins better than replacement level. While that isn't too great, I'd say two things: the depth is good, so if someone tanks they can be easily replaced with a pitcher who is better than replacement, and there's quite a bit of upside here, which I'll touch on in a bit.

There are a few interesting things here in the above Pitching RAR numbers:

We projected Morlan for an ERA of exactly 4.45, which is pretty awesome as that's also the exact number Fangraphs uses for replacement-level relief pitching. We generally look at him as being a replacement-level type pitcher with some upside. His leverage dragged him down to -.02, but I rounded it to 0.

We owe Riske $4.25 million this year. Around 1 and a half million for each run he saves versus a random AAA guy!

I have really reconsidered my opinion on this Hoffman deal since I found out it stopped Doug from spending on a starter. It's not an awful deal, but we don't even project him to be worth a win, and he'll be paid $6 million.

Overall, this is what I expected to see. We've projected this team to have a decent closer, a really good and durable setup man, and a pair of excellent lefties. Then we have a few options that we think will be slightly better than replacement, with plenty of possible upside, given the stuff of Julio, Coffey, and Morlan. Even the replacement guys who will probably start the year in the minors-- Dillard and DiFelice-- could be above our 4.45 ERA replacement level.

I really like what Doug Melvin has done for the bullpen in this offseason. He overspent on one guy, but it appears that he has learned a lesson from last season and realized that a bunch of cheap, good-upside guys is better than one expensive dude. This bullpen has 4 or 5 good pitchers and about 4 or 5 more flexible guys at the bottom who can be subbed in or out depending on their effectiveness. As long as two of Julio, Coffey, Morlan, DiFelice, and Dillard are somewhat above replacement level, this should be a pretty decent bullpen. Maybe it isn't a strength of this team, but it is definitely not a weakness, either.