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Braves’ relief situation is up to its old "tricks.
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Braves’ relief situation is up to its old "tricks. Před 5 měsíce, 1 týden  
through an April where the Red Sox are awful and the Mariners have apparently unlocked the mysteries of the universe Anthony Rizzo Jersey , but things for the Atlanta Braves have mostly gone as expected, so far. The hitting has been excellent, the fielding has been excellent, the position players have been not only as expected, but even a little better. The rotation has been a kitchen sink affair, but as a whole, more or less as expected — good stuff and bad stuff, average-ish as a whole. Some forecasts had the bullpen as the weakest part of the enterprise, and so it has come to pass. (Whether the bullpen or the rotation was considered worse in large part depends on health and therefore playing time.)After Tuesday night’s relief pitching horrorshow, the Atlanta bullpen still hasn’t been taxed too much — it ranks 18th in baseball in innings pitched and 15th in batters faced, and that includes Touki Toussaint’s “relief” stint which was really just a start that happened to begin in the second inning. Yet, the performance has been as hangdog as a unit running on fumes in September. In the teeny-tiny sample (where, again, weird stuff like Freddy Galvis having the same wRC+ as Rhys Hoskins is happening, April, man) of 2019 we’ve seen so far, the Braves’ bullpen is:Fifth-worst in MLB by FIP-;Fifth-worst in MLB, and below replacement level by fWAR;Bottom ten in MLB, and below replacement level by RA9-WAR; andFifth-worst in MLB by WPA.(As a side note, they probably won’t be this bad going forward, if only because the group’s xFIP is a fairly generic 15th in MLB, though still higher at a 107 xFIP- than you’d ever want to see.)Among the specific relievers used so far, only Wes Parsons has a notably positive WPA on the year, aside from Toussaint’s “relief appearance.” Meanwhile , A.J. Minter, Jesse Biddle, and Jonny Venters all have bottom-50 reliever WPAs among all guys to have emerged from a bullpen this year. Again, this isn’t really a story that the relief corps will be bad going forward, because WPA isn’t predictive, nor are things amassed in these small samples. It’s just a story that the relief corps has been gloriously bad so far.One interesting note about that WPA, though: it’s not that the Braves have really been agonizingly bad in terms of bleeding leads or anything. WPA is tracked as both its plus and minus components, i.e., WPA- tells you how much WPA a player or team lost, while WPA+ tells you how much they gained. By WPA-, the Braves’ relief corps is actually fairly average (17th in MLB). It’s WPA+ where they’ve really suffered (28th in MLB), which means that while they’ve been average at their rate of engendering disappointment, what they’ve consistently failed to do so far is actually “perform well in important situations.” These things are sort of two sides of the same coin, but also sort of not — it might be an interesting nuance, but is more likely just a weird small-sample artifact, like everything right now.Anyway, all of that raises questions about usage. Personnel-wise, we may have known that this bullpen was the team’s weak link, but we didn’t necessarily expect below-replacement-level performance, nor so much shed WPA from some of the supposedly-decent arms in the ‘pen. (Hint: there is no “safe” or “supposedly-decent” reliever anything.) One basic usage concept is to play to the concept of handedness splits, i.e., let left-handed pitchers face lefty batters, and righty hurlers face right-handed hitters. Often times, this isn’t too important: leverage tells you when you actually want to set up an advantageous situation and when you can afford to be less proactive in making player substitutions. So Andre Dawson Jersey , looking at adherence to handedness in high leverage gives a good sense of how teams are (and are not) deploying their relief personnel to try and gain maximum benefit.The Braves haven’t been taxed in terms of high-leverage showdowns. They rank in the bottom 10 in frequency of those situations so far, which is a testament to their offense (as well as some hammering endured by some of their pitchers). But, when those situations have shown up, the Braves haven’t really adjusted accordingly. The “best” teams have yielded platoon advantage in high leverage less than a third of time so far this season. The Braves are nearly at two-thirds. They’ve failed to set up the platoon advantage in high leverage nearly half the time with their right-handed relievers, and nearly ninety percent of the time with their left-handed relievers. A.J. Minter has only faced righties in high leverage so far. Three of the four batters Jesse Biddle has faced in high leverage have been righties. Max Fried was 2-for-3 in facing righties in high leverage before moving to the rotation; Jonny Venters was 1-for-2 before hitting the Injured List. Chad Sobotka is 3-for-4 in facing lefties in high leverage. Shane Carle is 2-for-2. The usage isn’t the only reason for the ghastly stats below, but it doesn’t help. But hey, at least they’re not the Cubs. Yeesh. (Who have somehow let every runner they’ve allowed reach base in high leverage to score, which is actually kind of impressive across 22 batters.)Anyway, all of this will probably get better. It has to. The good news is that even with the bullpen/handedness/usage woes, the Braves are still more or less exactly where they were expected to be at this point, if not a little better. The bullpen may be holding them back, but it’s a bit of adverse variation that cancels out positive variation elsewhere, as usually happens. The bad news is that the Braves might end up needing more of an edge to make the playoffs than this sort of status quo. Fixing the high leverage handedness usage thing could be that edge, or at least part of it. There’ll be opportunities to make the right calls, better calls, in the future. Will the Braves seize them? ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Pedro Severino took three easy trips around the bases Tuesday night. It was a good thing he saved his energy — he needed those legs on a game-ending play in the ninth.Severino hit a career-high three homers and thwarted Texas’ ninth-inning rally with a wild defensive play, lifting the Baltimore Orioles over the Rangers 12-11.Texas scored six runs in the ninth and had the tying run on base with one out when Mychal Givens replaced Richard Bleier on the mound. Givens struck out Delino DeShields and Elvis Andrus, but strike three to Andrus was a wild pitch that went to the backstop.Article continues below ...Severino scrambled to retrieve the ball, then delivered a perfect throw to first baseman Chris Davis a step ahead of Andrus for the final out. Severino said Givens couldn’t see his sign on the final pitch.“I didn’t know what pitch was coming,” Severino said. “I had to throw it really hard to first base to just get the out.”Dwight Smith Jr. had a career-high six RBIs for Baltimore, including a three-run homer and three-run double.Severino never previously had a multihomer game in five major league seasons. He hit solo homers in the first and ninth innings and a two-run homer in the seventh.As for his power surge, he said, “I don’t want to say I don’t have power. When I used to be a young guy Ron Santo Jersey , when I hit one homer, I just tried to hit every ball out.”Dylan Bundy (3-6) earned his first win since May 17, allowing three runs and six hits in five-plus innings.“We didn’t close out the game the way you’d like to close out,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I am going to try to stay positive.”Givens earned his fifth save, cleaning up a mess created by Josh Lucas and Bleier. Andrus led off the inning by reaching on shortstop Richie Martin’s error, and Asdrúbal Cabrera and Logan Forsythe each hit two-run doubles during the rally. Cabrera had three hits to match his season high.“It was good, but we still lost the game,” Cabrera said of the late rally. “We have to forget about it and come tomorrow and find a win.”“Obviously beforehand, there were a lot of things we could have done better,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said, “especially on the pitching side.”The five Baltimore home runs equaled the most hit off Rangers pitchers this season.After Smith’s first-inning homer, Severino’s first homer gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead five batters in against Drew Smyly (1-4).Smyly gave up seven runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings as Texas ended a three-game winning streak. The eight hits included three homers, one short of Smyly’s career high.Hanser Alberto had four hits, all singles, to match his career high set May 20.Keon Broxton hit his third home run in nine games with the Orioles and has hits in six games.FIRST THINGS FIRSTThe Orioles, with the majors’ worst record at 19-41, won a series opener for the third straight series to improve to 6-14 those games this season. They haven’t won consecutive games since April 23-24.The Rangers dropped to 5-15 in series openers.CHOO ACHIEVES MILESTONEShin-Soo Choo led off Texas’ first with his 200th career home run. It was his third leadoff home run this season and 30th of his career. Choo has reached base in 25 straight home games.“He’s one of the most impressive players I’ve ever been around,” Woodward said.SHORT HOPSDavis went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts after being reinstated from the 10-day injured day earlier in the day. . Choo’s homer was the major league leading 123rd given up by Orioles pitching this season. … Texas went 3 for 3 on challenges and is 14 for 17 on challenges this season. Baltimore went 1 for 1 and is 7 for 14. … RHP David Carpenter, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Nashville last Friday, made his Rangers debut with his first appearance in the majors since July 2015. Carpenter allowed two runs in 2/3 of an inning.TRAINER’S ROOMOrioles: OF Mark Trumbo (knee) went 0 for 3 with a strikeout on Tuesday beginning a rehab assignment with Triple-A Norfolk.Rangers: Texas placed RHP Kyle Dowdy on the 10-day IL with elbow impingement and recalled LHP Brett Martin from Nashville.UP NEXTOrioles: LHP John Means (5-4, 280) has a loss and two no-decisions since winning four of five starts April 18-May 12.Rangers: LHP Mike Minor (5-4, 2.74) is fifth in the American League in earned run average with one of the league’s five shutouts.
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