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A Quick Statistical Look at the Brewer Bullpen

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With the offday today, now seemed like as good a time as any to take a moment to look at some numbers and see if we can get a feel for what's working/not working in the Brewer bullpen.

As things stand right now, the Brewers have nine pitchers that fit the following criteria:

1) Have pitched at least ten innings out of the bullpen this season, and
2) Are not a current member of the starting rotation.

Those pitchers are:

Carlos Villanueva (35.2 IP)
Jeff Suppan (31 IP)
Todd Coffey (25.1 IP)
Trevor Hoffman (22 IP)
Claudio Vargas (19.2 IP)
John Axford (16 IP)
LaTroy Hawkins (11.2 IP)
Kameron Loe (11 IP)
Zach Braddock (10 IP)

With help from FanGraphs, follow the jump for a look at their numbers!

Everyone likes a big fastball. Let's start with a look at the Brewers' hardest throwers, and how often they use the fastball:

Pitcher Velocity %
John Axford 94.8 mph 62.4%
Todd Coffey 94.3 mph 68.3%
Zach Braddock 93.9 mph 61.5%
LaTroy Hawkins 92.6 mph 81.1%
Carlos Villanueva 90.1 mph 29.3%
Claudio Vargas 89.4 mph 65.0%
Kameron Loe 89.3 mph 74.2%
Jeff Suppan 87.5 mph 49.8%
Trevor Hoffman 85.2 mph 56.1%

 

No, that's not a typo. Carlos Villanueva has a 90 mph fastball he's using less than 30% of the time.

Moving on, let's take a quick look at luck. Here are two stats that seem to at least partially display how lucky a pitcher has been on the mound: FIP-ERA and Batting average on balls in play (BABIP):

Pitcher ERA FIP Diff
Kameron Loe 0.82 1.86 1.04
Todd Coffey 3.91 4.31 0.40
Carlos Villanueva 4.04 3.46 -0.58
John Axford 2.81 2.07 -0.74
Trevor Hoffman 9.00 7.49 -1.51
Jeff Suppan 6.81 5.09 -1.72
Claudio Vargas 7.32 4.81 -2.51
LaTroy Hawkins 9.26 3.47 -5.79
Zach Braddock 7.2 1.33 -5.87

 

Pitcher BABIP
Kameron Loe .250
Todd Coffey .284
Trevor Hoffman .304
John Axford .332
Carlos Villanueva .351
Jeff Suppan .385
Claudio Vargas .400
LaTroy Hawkins .421
Zach Braddock .515

 

Any pitching coach or analyst will tell you the importance of getting ground balls. But which Brewers do it well?

Pitcher GB%
Kameron Loe 53.6%
LaTroy Hawkins 51.6%
John Axford 48.7%
Todd Coffey 47.4%
Jeff Suppan 38.1%
Claudio Vargas 35.9%
Carlos Villanueva 33.7%
Zach Braddock 24.1%
Trevor Hoffman 20%

 

Here's a look at strikeouts and walks:

Pitcher K/9
Zach Braddock 13.5
Carlos Villanueva 11.86
LaTroy Hawkins 11.57
John Axford 10.69
Claudio Vargas 8.24
Kameron Loe 8.18
Trevor Hoffman 5.73
Todd Coffey 5.68
Jeff Suppan 5.45
Pitcher BB/9
LaTroy Hawkins 4.63
Claudio Vargas 4.58
Trevor Hoffman 4.5
John Axford 3.94
Zach Braddock 3.6
Todd Coffey 3.55
Carlos Villanueva 3.53
Jeff Suppan 3.4
Kameron Loe 1.64

 

As ranked by Run value per 100 pitches, here's a look at each Brewer's best pitch:

Pitcher Type R/100
LaTroy Hawkins Change +8.08
Kameron Loe Fastball +4.87
John Axford Slider +4.06
Carlos Villanueva Curve +2.78
Claudio Vargas Change +2.69
Todd Coffey Slider +2.29
Zach Braddock Slider +0.36
Jeff Suppan Curve -0.62
Trevor Hoffman Fastball -1.2

 

And on the other side of the coin, the worst:

Pitcher Type R/100
Trevor Hoffman Curve -5.88
Jeff Suppan Change -4.33
LaTroy Hawkins Curve -3.91
Todd Coffey Split -3.68
Carlos Villanueva Fastball -3.23
Claudio Vargas Fastball -2.11
Kameron Loe Curve -1.51
Zach Braddock Fastball -1.45
John Axford Fastball +0.06

 

Now, the best Brewers at throwing strikes:

Pitcher Zone%
Carlos Villanueva 49.2%
LaTroy Hawkins 49.1%
Kameron Loe 48.4%
Zach Braddock 47.1%
Trevor Hoffman 46.7%
Claudio Vargas 45.9%
Todd Coffey 45.3%
Jeff Suppan 44.2%
John Axford 43.4%

 

And the Brewers doing the best job of getting their opponents to swing at non-strikes:

Pitcher O-Swing%
Kameron Loe 37.5%
John Axford 37%
Zach Braddock 32.3%
LaTroy Hawkins 30.6%
Carlos Villanueva 27.6%
Jeff Suppan 26.2%
Todd Coffey 23.9%
Claudio Vargas 22.6%
Trevor Hoffman 21.2%

 

Conclusions:

Before I jump to conclusions here, I should note a giant sample size caveat: Even the largest sample size included here (Carlos Villanueva's 35.2 IP) is much too small to use as a true evaluation. Using ten innings of Zach Braddock or Kameron Loe is not nearly enough to make any relevant statements about their long-term effectiveness.

With that said, I think there are encouraging things here for LaTroy Hawkins, Zach Braddock and John Axford, about what we'd expect from Kameron Loe, and reasons to be concerned about Todd Coffey, who isn't getting strikeouts, isn't fooling anyone into swinging at bad pitches and appears to be getting lucky on balls in play.

What do you think?