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The Astros Bullpen: Two groups, Two different results

Astros' relievers have collectively had a weird season thus far.

How weird is it???

It's this weird. Maybe the standard pitching statistics don't tell the whole story with this group, but if we delve a little deeper I think we'll see some of the oddities of this team's bullpen. 2008 mainstays, guys like Geoff Geary, Doug Brocail and Wesley Wright have been either in and out of commission, or extremely ineffective. In their stead, Jeff Fulchino, Alberto Arias and Russ Ortiz have pitched effective, important innings for the Astros.

All three have gone against an overall bullpen trend of allowing more home run(s)/nine innings than average:

Jeff Fulchino .64
Alberto Arias .49
Russ Ortiz .72
Astros Relievers 1.15


These high home run rates have led to a high bullpen FIP of 4.57- more than half a run higher than their ERA (4.06). Two aspects of this phenomenon interest me a great deal. First of all, our six best relievers at limiting the long ball are all in the top seven in terms of innings pitched out of the 'pen. Besides the three guys I've already mentioned, LaTroy Hawkins, Chris Sampson and Tim Byrdak allow less than one home run per nine innings. For most of these pitchers, that means one homer every nine appearances, if not more.

But wait, you say- how is the bullpen's HR/9 rate 1.15 if a majority of the innings have come from low HR total pitchers? It just so happens that the missing link in the top seven innings pitched is Geoff Geary- he of the four homers allowed in just twenty innings pitched. The remaining pitchers who have pitched in relief for the Astros haven't thrown that many innings, but have allowed a ridiculously high amount of home runs in their innings pitched:

Brandon Backe 9 IP 3 HR
Geoff Geary 20 IP 4 HR
Jose Valverde 11.1 IP 3 HR
Wesley Wright 16.1 IP 3 HR
Doug Brocail 5.2 IP 2 HR
Felipe Paulino 3 IP 1 HR


The second point that interested me was that the Astros bullpen is a ground ball oriented group. A high HR/FB% should regress to the average, leaving the Astros bullpen better off in terms of run prevention. The odds are in their favor, and the right players should be getting the ball quite a bit more.