Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bullpen strikeout rates and Trevor May

Trevor May had the best strikeout rate of the Twins
starters. Now he works out of the bullpen.
On Friday I cited the strikeout rates of the most-used Twins relief pitchers.

There is, of course, another arm in the bullpen worth mentioning in that connection: Trevor May.

May has, for the season, a K/9 rate of 7.7. It was 8.0 as a starter, easily the best among the seven Twins with more than one start. It's only 5.1 in his five relief outings.

Normally, pitchers have more velocity pitching relief, and normally they get more strikeouts. Normal hasn't set in for May as a relief pitcher yet, and I suppose he'd rather it never does. I thought, and still do, that he should have remained in the rotation when Ervin Santana was activated, but the decision makers had a different idea.

It may be that that idea was: Let's see if May can be the strikeout arm we need in the pen right now. There is a logic to that notion. He's more likely, certainly, to get strikeouts in any role than is Mike Pelfrey.

But in the longer term, May belongs in the rotation. And in the longer term, one expects that some of those minor league high-velocity arms will emerge for a bullpen badly in need of some guys with swing-and-miss stuff.


  1. We're they trying to limit his innings in the move to the BP?

  2. Anonymous, I have wondering about that as well. I don't know what his innings would of looked like if they would have left him in the rotation, but he likely would of been on pace to have a career high in innings pitched. It is also possible he was having minor arm issues. It would of had to been minor, or they would of disabled him. Innings pitched probably wasn't on the top of the list of why he went to the bullpen instead of say, Pelfrey, but is possible it was a consideration.

    While strike out rates are not unimportant for pitchers, it is sometimes useful to look at the reverse part of the equation. A pitcher who averages 5 strikeouts per 9 innings gets slightly over 80% of his outs some other way than strikeouts. A pitcher who averages 8 strikeouts per 9 innings gets slightly over 70% of his outs some other way than strikeouts. Many people are a bit more hung up on strikeout rates than is entirely justified. The big thing is getting outs, which generally means a pitcher needs to induce poor contact when a ball is put in play. The amount of hard contact a pitcher allows is probably every bit as important as strikeout rate.