Last week we looked at the ability of the Orioles starting staff to elicit swings and misses outside of the strike zone. This week, we’ll continue looking at swings and misses out of the zone but turn our focus to the bullpen. Among American League relief pitchers the median rate for hitters to swing out at pitches of the zone (O-Swing %) is ~27% and the median contact rate (O-Contact %) for these pitches is ~67%. Once again, it is important to note that it is the middle of May and increased sample sizes will make these numbers more reliable. However, for now, small samples are all we have.

Player Name O-Swing % O-Contact %
Jim Johnson 39.8 % 61.2 %
Koji Uehara 38.0 % 60.5 %
Chris Jakubauskas 37.3 % 84.2 %
Jason Berken 30.1 % 68.2 %
Josh Rupe 29.4 % 66.7 %
Jeremy Accardo 27.3 % 66.7 %
Kevin Gregg 25.4 % 81.3 %
Mike Gonzalez 21.4 % 68.2 %
Clay Rapada 18.6 % 54.6 %

Looking under the hood reveals an ugly side to Kevin Gregg’s six saves. Gregg isn’t getting hitters to chase balls outside of the strike zone and when they do, they hit those pitches as well as we would expect them to hit pitches in the zone. The front office seems committed to using Gregg in high leverage situations, but these numbers make it difficult to endorse such a strategy. The O-Contact % and O-Swing % darlings of the Orioles bullpen are Koji and Jimmy ‘Jam’ Johnson. While both pitchers get hitters to swing and miss on bad pitches they accomplish it in very different ways. Johnson has overpowering stuff while Koji uses a deceptive delivery and an uncanny ability to locate his pitches. Berken’s numbers look pretty average given the gaudy strikeout rate he displayed at the beginning of the season. Mike Gonzalez is also an interesting case to monitor. Since Gonzalez alerted the world that he had followed Stella’s lead and gotten his groove back, he has appeared to be a better pitcher. As the season progresses we will be able to see if his O-Contact % and O-Swing % support this appearance.

Have a suggestion for O’s by the Numbers? Have something you are curious about? Leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to include it in an upcoming piece.