Ricky Renteria’s bullpen usage

White Sox fans love to smash the manager over his bullpen usage…

I don’t think this is a uniquely White Sox fans feature, I am pretty sure this is uniform across all fan bases. Even if you took a sample of the people you think are the best managers in baseball and looked at those teams’ fan twitter, you’d get some similar commentary I am sure. That sorta got me thinking, how does Ricky use his bullpen and can we glean any information by just looking at usage? Below is cut from Baseball Reference, showing the White Sox top ten relievers by appearance.

Burdi was a later call up and appears to be on a more conservative usage schedule (we’ll get to that in a minute), while Bummer and Fry are both currently injured, putting them behind the rest of the group. The remaining group appears to be in a narrow band of appearances, with the Foster / Heuer / Detwiler group on the bottom of appearances and Cordero and Marshall being up on the top. Does this chart really tell us much though, other than the White Sox have a lot of bullpen appearances (8th in MLB going into today)?

Picture from the Chicago Sun Times

I also spent some time parsing the daily usage to see, who gets called upon back to back days and who gets more extended periods of rest? I use days and not games, because my thought process is that a day of rest is a day of rest to the relievers arm, it doesn’t matter if there was no game that day and they spent the afternoon sitting in a beer garden instead of sitting in the make shift social distancing bullpens of 2020. Here’s the instances of back to back usage, or more.

BACK to BACK to BACK day usage (three straight days)

Jimmy Cordero (8/28-8/30)

Jace Fry (8/29-8/31)

BACK to BACK day usage (two straight days)

Jimmy Cordero (9/5 & 9/6)

Codi Heuer (9/4 & 9/5)

Alex Colome (9/4 & 9/5)

Evan Marshall (9/3 & 9/4)

Matt Foster (9/3 & 9/4)

Ross Detwiler (9/1 & 9/2)

Jimmy Cordero (9/1 & 9/2)

Matt Foster (8/30 & 8/31)

Alex Colome (8/30 & 8/31)

Steve Cishek (8/29 & 8/30)

Codi Heuer (8/17 & 8/18)

Zack Burdi (8/17 & 8/18)

Jimmy Cordero (8/15 & 8/16)

Ross Detwiler (8/15 & 8/16)

Matt Foster (8/15 & 8/16)

Jimmy Cordero (8/11 & 8/12)

Steve Cishek (8/10 & 8/11)

Alex Colome (8/3 & 8/4)

Ross Detwiler (8/2 & 8/3)

Aaron Bummer (8/1 & 8/2)

Jimmy Cordero (7/31 & 8/1)

Evan Marshall (7/28 & 7/29)

Alex Colome (7/28 & 7/29)

Steve Cishek (7/28 & 7/28, yes, used twice in both ends of a double header)

Aaron Bummer (7/24 & 7/25)

Steve Cishek (7/24 & 7/25)

A few thoughts….

12 of the 28 instances of back to back OR back to back to back days usage or ~43% have been in the past 9 days. Jimmy Cordero leads the team with 6 usages like this, followed by Steve Cishek and Alex Colome with 4 each. Conversely, Codi Heuer, Matt Foster and Zack Burdi have 6 combined, which make sense to my simple brain, wanting to protect these younger arms a bit from the rigors of constant usage. There are also some very odd usage patterns, it is well noted that Ross Detwiler has gone long stretches with no usage and 3 instances of back to back usage, unclear if it is based on match-up or if he had some non-DL stint injury or if Ricky just forgot he existed. Also, Jace Fry went from sparsely used, aka, 0 back to back instances of usage, to a back to back to back usage, to only seeing one more appearance before hitting the DL. Odd.

Picture from NBCSports

A lot goes into a bullpen, as a fan, I don’t really know who’s particular strengths are best against a certain subset of hitters they might face in an inning (particularly in the 3 batters era) or if a particular reliever needs more or less rest to be effective. Part of me believes that Jimmy Cordero’s poor performance is over use, but it’s entirely possible that it is the best case scenario for the team (ie, over using someone else in his spot would cause a worse result). Regardless, it’s fun to parse data and look at what did happen.

Picture from the Chicago Sun-times

What are your conclusions from the data? Hit me up on twitter, also, let me know if I made a mistake somewheres in here….I am just a man (often a highly intoxicated one) and I am prone to over use, just like Jimmy Cordero.


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