Chicago, We Have a Problem
As for the win, Freddy Garcia got the runs he asked for, and he need every one of them. Yes, Freddy, we can all be winning pitchers when the offense puts up 6 runs in the first two innings. Seriously, though Freddy pitched pretty well after the first inning, and deserves better than 5 earned runs. It's a sham that we can say the bullpen threw 3 and 2/3 scoreless innings. The double off Thornton had nothing to do with the last two runs?
ERA is a bogus stat. Runs Allowed per Nine Innings (RA) is a little better, but neither means much of anything for relievers. Baseball Prospectus has a stat called Fair Runs Allowed, or FRA, that distributes credit for a run amongst all the pitchers involved. So, for example, Matt Thornton has a 3.35 RA, but only a 3.24 FRA. More often than Thornton costing the guy he replaced a RA, the guy behind him is costing Thornton a RA. Not surprisingly, Mike Macdougal, who has an RA of 1.50, has an FRA of 2.65. You see a usage pattern here. Thornton gets the guy ahead of him out of trouble, then puts a man on. Macdougal allows that guy to score, but not the guys he allows on. Actually, pretty often, these two guys just shut the door on opponents, especially Macdougal, but when there is a problem, it seems to be when Thornton gets out of the starter's jam, but Macdougal can't get out of Thornton's jam. While I'm perusing BP's advanced reliever stats, I'll point out a few other observations. A) The guys we're using now are the best bullpen collection we've had this year. Jenks, McCarthy, Macdougal, Thornton and Riske have been the Sox' best relievers this year. B) Jenks, Thornton and McCarthy have been awesome at getting out of jams, which to me is the ultimate test of a bullpen. Performance at the back of the bullpen is a key indicator of post-season success. As Ozzie says, this team will be dangerous in the play-offs. Now, about getting there . . .