Careful With That Small Sample Size, Eugene
Last year, Texas confounded everyone by outperforming their projected record by 13 games. Most of that was attributable to the bullpen, led by journeyman Sam Dyson, who took over ninth-inning duties for Shawn Tolleson (who was non-descropt for the most part until he became the closer). Matt Bush, Tony Barrette, Jake Diekman, and Alex Claduio also contributed greatly to the late inning successes.
At least four other relief pitchers besides Tolleson were chewed up and spit out by the AL batters before the Rangers settled on that good quintet to carry the load. The bad quintet allowed their opponents to pile on runs, which skewed their runs against a bit – and the success of the good pitchers gave Texas a lot of close wins. Thus, the expected record disparity.
It happens. Even over 162 games things don’t quite balance out is there’s anomalous data lurking about. Even during a full season, a player could look great or awful because of one stretch of games (example: a .280 hitter hits .210 for a month, then goes back to .280 for the rest of the year. He’d be about .250 to .260 overall..)
So, entering 2017, smart fans would probably guess that Texas’ bullpen may not be as good as they were in 2016, even with all but Diekman returning (he has colitis). But those same fans would probably realize that if Texas didn’t waste time on a lot of garbage pitchers, their offense and starters should carry them to being contenders.
The season is just 13 games in (less than 10% of games played). Texas is 5-8 (not great, but every team goes through stretches like that). But there’s panic, because Sam Dyson has become unglued.
Dyson’s pitched in six games, and has given up 13 runs in 4 1/3 innings and has blown three leads and lost another game where he entered with a tie. Yeah, it’s a bad stretch. Yeah, he probably should be settled down a bit. Right now he’s been put on the DL with a ‘hand contusion”, which sounds more like he’s been set aside to heal his psyche and then work on his mechanics.
But it’s just 13 games into the season, and scribes and mediots are already in panic mode. “They gotta get a closer they can trust! They don’t want to fall farther behind!” And the blame fell on Dyson, almost in unanimity.
No one mentions that in his latest blown save, other pitchers gave up six runs in 6 1/3 innings. No one mentions that in his last blown save it went infield hit, steal, bunt for a hit, steal, intentional walk, unintentional walk, force out, and infield hit. One legit walk, but nothing else hit out into the green.
That’s bad pitching luck.
The Rangers also have pretty poor infield defense, except for Elvis Andrus. Jurickson Profar is also showing himself to be a butcher in left field. That also could have affected their pitching stats a bit.
It’s still only 13 games, and over the next month or so, Texas could easily be back near the front. Dyson, when he comes back, could easily put together a stretch of games like he had last year. His ERA won’t be that hot (it’ll take a while to unravel that), but 30 good to great games would really alleviate those four where he stunk.
It’s just that now, it’s a small sample size and it looks really bad. Keep it in context, though. If he did the same thing last year, but spread them out over the entire season, no one would really notice.