While perusing the Indian's team stats this week, I was struck by the fact that we have four relievers who already have three wins credited to their name. Bryan Shaw, Scott Atchison, Cody Allen each have three, and the (temporarily?) departed Josh Outman has four. I was interested to know if this was some sort of anomaly, for so many relievers to have that many wins barely halfway through a season.
Obviously not every game will result in the starting pitcher getting a decision. Every extra-inning game and game that is tied late will result in a reliever picking up the decision, but for some reason, it seemed to me that this year we have had more games of that nature than usual.
Is this truly is something out of the ordinary? I reviewed the the data going back to 1989, not only because it makes for an even quarter century, but also because that is approximately when the current bullpen makeup got its start.
[Note: I prorated the data from the 1994 and 1995 seasons to 162 games]
In the 84 games this year, Indians starters have a 21-33 record with 30 no decisions. Only four times since 1989 have the starter's no decisions outpaced the starter's wins: 2004 (64>49), 2003 (52>47), 1993 (66>42) and 1992 (53>44). This year's pace would put the final numbers at 58 no decisions and just 41 wins. That 17-game gap between the two figures would be the second largest (worst) behind only the awful 1993 squad. The prorated 41 wins by starters this season would be the absolute lowest in the data sample. The starters are on pace for 64 losses this season, which would be second most behind the 1992 squad, which had 65 of them.
The great news is the W-L record by our bullpen in those no decisions for the starters. In those 30 games, the bullpen has a 20-10 record. That prorates to 39-19, which would be the most wins in relief in the data sample. The closest squad would the juggernaut 1995 team which had 36 (prorated) relief wins. The 66.7 winning percentage by reliever this season would rank second behind that 1995 team, which finished 36-15, a 70.6 winning percentage.
The Indians' 20 relief wins leads the American League, with Oakland in second place at 17. The 10 relief losses are tied for fewest in the league (with the Tigers, Angels and Twins). And to get back to the original questioned that promoted this research: No other team has four relievers who've already been credit with 3+ wins.
There's a lot going wrong for the Indians this season, but the bullpen (which has been asked to throw far too many innings) is doing its part to keep the team in contention.