Analysis

Bullpen Wars: Why Pirates-Cardinals Could Be Decided in Relief

Bullpen Wars: Why Pirates-Cardinals Could Be Decided in Relief

A five-game playoff series shines a light on every aspect of your team. Stars will shine brighter and flaws will be exposed.

In this National League Division Series, the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates share at least one similar strength: a quality bullpen of mostly young arms.

Look at some of the key season stats:

Category
Cardinals
Pirates

FIP
2nd (3.26)
4th (3.35)

SIERA
1st (3.19)
5th (3.39)

ERA-
8th (95)
2nd (79)

K%
5th (22.4%)
13th (20.1%)

BB%
1st (7.4%)
2nd (7.8%)

LOB%
9th (75.1%)
3rd (78.3%)

Two similarities about the bullpens stick out: both rely on limiting walks and generating ground balls. Although the Cardinals' bullpen looks like the more talented one overall, the Pirates' bullpen has had better results due to strong defense. Pittsburgh relievers generate grounders on 52 percent of balls in play, by far the highest rate in baseball.

If we are only looking to analyze this series, though, there is ...

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Analysis

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as NBCOlympics.com, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

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