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Carlos Torres is not a long reliever August 29, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Sports.
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Carlos Torres has been a fixture in the Mets bullpen this year, tossing 52 1/3 innings thus far in relief. The Closer Monkey had him listed as our reliable setup man for a bit, but that spot has been taken over by the World’s Worst Sports Blog‘s current favorite bullpen man, Hansel Robles.

Torres cost the Mets last night’s game against the Red Sox, with a little bit of help from Blake Swihart. Torres has seemed unpredictable this year, sometimes seeming strong and other times unreliable. For that reason, I wanted to take a look at whether that’s recency bias or something else.

Carlos Torres' ERA, season-long and on a rolling five-game basis

Carlos Torres’ ERA, season-long and on a rolling five-game basis

To do so, I generated a time series of Torres’ ERA for the season, which (predictably) spends most of its time decreasing, hovering around 4.0, and then periodically spikes upward to start another decrease. There are very few times when Torres’ season ERA increases more than one game at a time. In fact, he put up 39 scoreless appearances making up 39 2/3 innings of work this year. When he gives up runs, though, he gives up big ones.

The rolling-five-game ERA is meant to demonstrate that Torres’ performance is much spottier than we would expect – in many cases, his ERA5 spends several games at 0 before spiking up and staying high for several games. That indicates that Torres follows up runs with shorter appearances, more runs, or a combination of both, showing that he definitely has a streaky side.

In addition, the correlation between Torres’ runs allowed and his number of pitches is quite clear – it’s about .42. That indicates that Torres tires quickly. This is borne out by a back-of-the-envelope regression; estimating Carlos’ runs allowed as a function of his pitches that night and his days of rest, I found that each pitch thrown adds about .04 runs to Carlos’ total (significant above the 95% level). Days of rest doesn’t give a statistically significant estimate, nor do the quadratics of either term. (This looks pretty linear to me.) No combination of pitches thrown in the previous 3 games and batters faced in previous games give any additional information. This isn’t a great method – there’s obviously some endogeneity – but there is a strong correlation between Torres staying in the game longer and giving up more runs.

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Bartolo Colon, plus the Bullpen April 8, 2014

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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The Mets were idle yesterday; after going 2-1 against the Reds this weekend, they’ll face Atlanta tonight with Bartolo Colon starting. I was a Bartolo skeptic at first, but having done a bit more deep diving on his statistics, I think he’s likely going to be a strong anchor in the rotation and I’m happy to see him coming up tonight.

Colon averaged 6 1/3 innings per start last year; his two nine-inning complete games came late in the season but his seven- and eight-inning games were sprinkled relatively evenly throughout the year, and he was hooked early (in the fourth) only once (as well as one 5-inning start). That’s comforting considering the Mets’ bullpen issues, assuming a rested Jose Valverde does what he does and we get the Dr. Jekyll version of Kyle Farnsworth tonight. Depending on the game situation, I’d like to see Jeurys Familia given an opportunity to push that 20.25 ERA down by a couple of points, assuming Colon pitches 6 innings; Gonzalez Germen seems to be the other single-inning option for the Mets. I like John Lannan off the bench as a long-relief option, but hopefully Bartolo won’t require that.

But what about Carlos Torres? Carlos appeared in 24 games and pitched 36 2/3 innings last year as a reliever, in addition to his 9 games and 49 2/3 innings pitched as a starter. The splits are huge here – Torres’ ERA as a starter last year was 4.89, compared to 1.47 as a reliever. This isn’t entirely due to Torres facing the same batters more often during starts, since his batting average allowed in his first time pitching to an opponent as a starter (.267) is still significantly higher than the same stat as a reliever (.200). Torres’ best innings are 4-6, allowing opposing hitters to hit only .188/.250/.267 – the mark of a great mopup man. He actually pitched better (.167/.200/.167) in extra innings, but there were some sample size problems there (only 26 plate appearances). That said, Carlos also pitched pretty well (.220/.238/.317) in the 8th inning, despite a total turn for the worse when he pitched in the ninth. Torres may well show up as a more reliable setup man than Farnsworth, and although Familia and Germen need the time in the 7th inning for development purposes, I’d like to see what Torres can do in higher-leverage situations.