Shark Tank Enters Meltdown Mode

Thursday’s loss in Milwaukee basically sums up the 2014 Pirates season to date. Everyone thought they had it… but turns out it was just another remarkably frustrating loss. That’s the third blown save against Milwaukee in the past month — a HUGE swing in the NL Central. If Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon lock down those three W’s, the Pirates would be 20-20 right now, sitting just 2.5 games out of first place … Instead, they’re 17-23, 8.5 games back. Hindsight 20/20 of course, but handing the Brewers those three wins is a six-game difference in the division.

In 2013, the bullpen shut everything down. Give ‘em a lead? It’s over. This year, it feels like it’s been heart attack city every time the bullpen gates swing open. How about this stat:

Here’s another:

This leaking Shark Tank is melting down like never before.

FanGraphs conveniently tracks “shutdowns” and “meltdowns” for all relief pitchers. The basic formula is this: using Win Probability Added, a reliever who increased his team’s odds of winning by 6% or more is credited with a shutdown; a reliever who decreases his team’s odds of winning by 6% or more is credited with a meltdown. Example: Mark Melancon’s ninth inning dropped the Bucs’ chances of winning by a whopping 80.6% on Thursday, so he’s obviously getting a meltdown.

Through 40 games, the Pirates hold one of the highest meltdown totals in MLB…

1.
Cubs
25
2.
Mets
24
3.
Pirates
23
4.
White Sox
23
5.
Dodgers
21

To put it in perspective: the Bucco Shark Tank had just 53 last year, second fewest in baseball. The most in 2013? LA Angels at 88. This year’s Bucco team: on pace for 93.

Among all qualified relief pitchers in Major League Baseball, the average number of meltdowns this season is approximately 2.33 … All the Pirates’ big guns have topped that, unfortunately:

Jeanmar  Gomez
4
Bryan  Morris
4
Mark  Melancon
3
Jason  Grilli
3
Justin  Wilson
3
Tony  Watson
3

One thing to consider: Pirate relievers have entered games in higher leverage situations than any other team in baseball.

You probably don’t need advanced metrics like Win Probability Added and whatever else is out there to tell you that the pitching has sucked this year. However, numbers like this are proving that the eye test hasn’t failed you and that the struggle is real out there on the mound. The meltdowns are happening and costing this team wins. While regression was expected from the Bucco bullpen, they can’t afford to keep blowing these close ballgames. It’s getting to the point where each win is big, and the difference between a series win and series loss in Milwaukee could be pivotal…

Please figure things out, fellas.

Go Bucs

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  1. Pingback: Why can't the Pirates keep the ball in the ballpark? | From Forbes to Federal 21 May, 2014

    […] A bunch of opponent homers – and offense in general – has come in high leverage situations. That’s one homer every 26 at-bats in high leverage; one every 34 in medium; one every 31 in low. Staggering: 90 runs (!) in high leverage situations – this follows up with the bullpen meltdowns we looked at last week. […]

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