Saturday, August 22, 2009

Brian Bruney is not, uh, very good right now

With thanks to @glenngiangrande for the idea.

In 2007, Brian Bruney was not very good. Among fans, he had acquired the nickname "BBrian BBruney", and was eventually sent down to make room on this roster for a miracle prospect by the name of Joba Chamberlain.

Life wasn't very good.

So, Bruney worked his ass off during the winter and came to Spring Training in shape and throwing gas.

When 2008 started, Bruney was hands down the best non-Joba, non-Rivera pitcher in the bullpen.

Then, as we might remember, not too long into the season, Bruney slipped on a wet mound and injured his lisfranc, a odd sort of forewarning as to what would happen to Chien Ming Wang.

Bruney should have been out for the rest of the season, but he worked his way back and although the Yankees had mostly fallen out of the race by the time he came back, he was again throwing gas.

Life was good.

At the outset, 2009 looked much like the way 2008 ended for Bruney--with him as the best option in the 8th inning and one that was pretty darned good at his job.

Then Bruney got hurt.

He went on the DL, came off it, pitched a game, and went back on the DL.

Life has not been very good since.

Since coming of the DL the second time in June, take a gander at Bruney's stats:

Twenty-two hits in 18 innings pitched, 11 earned runs, thirteen walks and fifteen strike outs--yep, that's a near identical number for strike outs and walks.

That's good for a WHIP of 1.94.

WHIPs of 1.94 are bad enough for starters. For relievers, that's like watching the Enola Gay.

Now, WHIP is of course not the perfect stat--doesn't take into account things like inherited runners and it counts walks and hits as the same which is not necessarily always the case--but it's a fairly decent general marker.

Opponents are hitting .301/.409/.534/.943 (!!!) against him--which means that in addition to the high WHIP brought on by the walks, the hits against him tend to, uh, be hit kind of hard, too.

Once again, for a starter, these numbers would already be downright scary.

For a reliever to whom you once entrusted the entirety of the eighth inning, these numbers are, well, get-down-on-your-knees-and-thank-your-god-for-the-advent-of-Phil-Hughes-in-2009.

You might sit there and say "oh, it's just one reliever, big whoop", but since it does behoove the Yankees to be the best team they can be, we are getting precariously close--if not already there--where the the mop-up innings and long relief work that Mark Melancon could give would far outweigh what Bruney is doing--err, not doing.

With Alfredo Aceves, in all likelihood, still probably nursing some sort of shoulder problem (I'm not sure how else you explain his numbers post-All Star break), having another long reliever or pitcher-who-could-throw-long-relief might be beneficial.

In a couple of weeks the rosters expand and the Yanks can call people up without worrying about a corresponding move, but once October rolls around, (not a given, but if the Yankees don't make it, it would be quite the collapse) the rosters shrink back to 25 and decisions have to be made.

Bruney, as has been said by Pete Abraham among others, is right now playing himself off of that roster.