GAME TIME 3:05 CDT
Nice way to return the favor last night, scoring 10 runs in an inning is no small feat. Not complaining really, but it feels like we've witnessed a lot of boring games this season. By boring I mean few cliffhangers, just a lot of blowouts either by the Cardinals or at their expense. Not much excitement. Having fun at Fangraphs.com, I thought it would be interesting to look at each NL team's average leverage index to see if that feeling is grounded in fact. If you're not familiar with LI, it's a Tom Tango creation that spawned out of win probability that measures just how crucial game situations are. Basically, LI at game start is 1.00. Close and late in the game obviously more is as stake, LI tells you how much. For example, on 4/22 Albert Pujols came to the plate to face Ryan Dempster on in the 10th inning with runners on first and second and the game tied 9-9, the LI was at 4.61. IE, there was 4.6 x's more damage that could be done against a team's win expectancy then when the game started. For another example-in a similar situation on 6/3, Albert hit a 2 run homer off of Dan Wheeler in the 10th inning to extend the Cardinal lead to 8-5. The leverage index was at .72 because the team win expectancy was already at 80%, thanks to a solo shot hit by So Taguchi a few moments ago. Both times he came up with monstrous homers, but one was a real game changer while the other was had much less of an impact in the game. Get it? If not, click here for more of an explanation from the man himself.
Anyway, poking around at fangraphs confirmed my feelings. The average leverage index per plate appearance that our relievers faced was by far the last in the league, .80. The NL average was 1.09. The Cub's bullpen has walked on the most eggshells with an average LI of 1.26. They've been hurt in a lot of close ballgames and are the victims of bad luck. Their Pythagorean record bears that out, 36-30, while their real record is 31-35. (The billy goat is still at work, but don't tell La Russa I said that.) The Redbird hitter's average LI was .96, good for 2nd last behind the Brewers. League average was 1.03. Their rotation was .98, which is about par for the course. I'm not complaining about them blowing another team out, but they've been on the receiving end more often due to the motley crew rotation. The starting rotation has compiled a -4.30 win probability added, IE they've cost the team 9 wins. Meanwhile, Ryan Franklin has been fantastic out of the bullpen but I have to think Wellemeyer, Springer and maybe even Percival can fill in some of those high leverage roles and do OK, freeing them up to move Franklin into the rotation where he's needed. Springer has pitched pretty well, but in a lot of meaningless circumstances. His average LI is .66, telling me he's been far underutilized. Instead, La Russa has turned to his lefties in high leverage situations and has been betrayed, TyJo and Flores have a combined -1.02 WPA. It took all hell to break loose just to get them to recall Reyes, so I doubt it happens. It would behoove them to get the hemophiliacs out of the rotation and back where they belong. I would like to think that the short outings they are getting out of their relievers turned starters this week is teaching them something.
Reyes going today, now would be a good time to prove he's learned whatever mysterious lesson he needed to get in order to cancel this soap opera he's got going on with his bosses.