Last week we discussed shutdowns and meltdowns as better measures of a relief pitcher’s worth. Any time a reliever added or subtracted around 6% (.06 WPA) from their team’s probability of winning.
We saw many a meltdown and many a blowup over the first weekend of sweet, sweet baseball action. John Axford’s epic Opening Day implosion ranking as one of the worst (with plenty of help from his defense & umps, mind you), taking his team from a 91% chance of winning to, um, losing. That is indeed a meltdown.
Jays reliever Casey Janssen was praised for his ability to pitch out of a jam on Sunday, getting a strikeout, fly out, and ground out to snuff out a two-on, nobody out rally. Great job, Casey! Fireman! Except that the two runners were placed in that precarious situation by Casey Janssen himself. Not the same Casey, you get scorn, not credit.
A couple people asked me on Twitter if this situation was a shutdown as we described on Friday. As it turns out…it was not. Had Janssen entered the game with two on and nobody out in this game state, he’d had compiled a whopping .133 WPA, more than double the “shutdown” cutoff.
Unfortunately for Mr. Janssen’s not real stats, putting those men on base subtracted .092 WPA. This leaves Janssen’s total WPA for the day at ~.040. A.K.A not a shutdown. He entered a two-run game in the sixth inning. Far from a high leverage situation. Jason Frasor’s clean-as-a-whistle also fell just short of the shutdown threshold, though Jon Rauch’s wind-from-your-sails 8th inning is as melt-downy as they come.
The Twins got great relief work from Glen Perkins and Matt Capps en route to the reappearance of long-time closer Joe Nathan. Despite making a 31 pitch odessy out of a 2 run lead, Nathan did pick up both a shutdown and the save in his first work in over a year. Jays fans know what Twins watchers are in for – a whole lot of top-step saves as the old horse gets his bearings on the mound.