Ask any Nats fan to recite the list of things that went wrong for the team in its disappointing 2015 season, and chances are that bullpen issues (particularly in the 8th inning that used to be handled by Tyler Clippard) will be near the top of the list. But is it true that bullpen issues caused problems for the Nationals in 2015? It turns out that the answer to that question is yes and no.
- In 2015, the Nats’ bullpen won only 22 of its 47 decisions for a winning percentage of .468. that figure was the lowest for the team since the horrific 2009 season when the bullpen posted a .381 percentage as it went 24-39.
- Washington’s bullpen posted 25 blown saves in 2015, with 16 coming in the second half of the season. Blake Treinen and Casey Janssen led the team with five blown saves each, with Tanner Roark and Aaron Barrett next with three each.
- The Nats’ starters averaged throwing 5.97 innings pitched per start, down from 6.19 in 2014 but ahead of the 5.88 mark set by the 2012 National League East Championship squad. Perhaps the extra load impacted the team’s relief corps last year. After posting a 3.00 bullpen ERA (the best ever for the Nats) in 2014, the team’s relievers allowed nearly half a run more (3.46) per inning in 2015.
- The Nats gave up 20 home runs in 2015, the most given up in the eighth frame by the Nats since the team surrendered 22 eighth inning bombs in both 2006 and 2007. Only three teams surrendered fewer eighth inning round trippers than the Nats did in 2015. The Nationals also gave up 55 extra base hits in the eighth in 2015, the most since the 2009 team gave up 65 in the penultimate inning. Finally with late inning power pitching all the rage in the Majors these days, Washington’s strikeout per nine innings pitched in the eighth frame was 8.0 which ranked in the lower third (21st) in the Major Leagues.
- One thing that the 2015 Nats’ staff couldn’t be accused of is nibbling in the eight inning. Washington gave up on 42 walks in the eighth last year, the best mark in the Majors and the lowest eighth inning walk total in Nats’ history. The most eighth innings bases on balls give up by the Nats was a staggering 95 in the infamous 2009 campaign.
A special thanks to Baseball-reference.com’s Play Index which made finding these facts both easy and enjoyable.