Felix Pena, Ryan Yarbrough show pitching in bulk can be a winner

first_imgYarbrough is glad to be part of the organization that was first out of the gate.”Like we saw last year, everyone was like, ‘This is ridiculous, outrageous,’ and then obviously you see a lot of teams starting to use it this year because they see how successful it has been, so, just kind of being in the forefront of all that is really great,” he told SN. “They’re just trying to put us in great position to win ballgames, and that’s really all you can ask for from a front office.”This article has been updated with quotes from Ryan Yarbrough, who spoke with SN’s Joe Rivera at Yankee Stadium. Felix Pena typically leaves the game in the middle innings when he pitches, but Friday was not a typical night.First, the memory of Pena’s late Angels teammate Tyler Skaggs was pushing him to succeed; second, he was pitching hitless ball, and the pitcher who preceded him, Taylor Cole, had done the same.  After Pena’s fourth inning of work — the top of the sixth — a no-hitter watch was on. Would LA manager Brad Ausmus decide that Pena had done enough and then turn the game over to his late-inning relief crew? MORE: Watch ‘ChangeUp,’ a new MLB live whiparound show on DAZNAusums decided to go old-school — as old-school as a combined no-no can be, anyway. He kept sending Pena to the mound, and Pena kept working hitless frames. Ausmus gave Pena the ninth.On his 81st pitch of the game, Pena retired the Mariners’ Mallex Smith on a grounder to second. The combined no-hitter was complete. So was the greatest opener game in the year-plus history of the strategy. Cole and Pena’s reign almost ended two days later.Sunday in Baltimore, Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough was three outs away from finishing the first combined perfect game in baseball history. His regular tag-team partner, Ryne Stanek, set the stage by retiring the first six Orioles batters. Like Pena, Yarbrough was in his seventh inning of work. Unlike Pena, he could not finish. He allowed hits to the first two hitters in the ninth and left one batter later. Tampa Bay couldn’t preserve the shutout, either, as the O’s pushed across a run.The Rays will take the eventual 4-1 victory just the same, and though they failed to make history, they did draw more attention to the strategy they introduced last year and that other teams are adopting — slowly — this year.♦♦♦The opener attracts heat from players, pundits and fans who believe that giving the ball to a horse who can work into the late innings is still a better plan. Those critics probably dismiss the idea that the pitcher who follows the opener can also get the game to the setup man and closer, or, in Pena’s case last weekend, finish the job.Pena had several factors working in his favor Friday night: He was given a big lead early and he was throwing too well, in Ausmus’ estimation, to be lifted. His seven innings pitched tied a season high. Still, Pena has worked into the seventh or later five times in 13 bulk outings.Yarbrough definitely knows how to pitch in bulk. He threw 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in the first opener game, May 19, 2018, in Anaheim, and he has combined with Rays openers to go seven or more innings in eight of his 25 career bulk appearances. He had not worked into the ninth until Sunday, but with a perfecto on the line and with his pitch count modest (76 through six), Rays skipper Kevin Cash stuck with him.Those performances are on the extreme high end for opener games, though. On average, opener-bulk tandems max out around the sixth inning, just as today’s regular starters do. SN has indentified 99 opener-bulk games, or 3.5 percent of all MLB game starts, this season through July 15. The chart below shows just how closely the tandems’ stats track with the average results of the other 96.5 percent of game starts.STATOP+BULKAVG SPIP/game5.555.42BF/game23.6123.10ERA4.414.47WHIP1.3111.308K/97.938.50League average begins to look really good when a team — the Angels, say — doesn’t have enough quality starting pitching. LA used an opener-bulk tandem 18 times through July 14, about the same number of turns as a mid-rotation starter. The comparison to the team’s non-opener starters is striking: STATOP+BULKLAA SPIP/game5.834.97BF/game24.2221.51ERA4.715.46WHIP1.1811.356K/99.008.56The Rays, on the other hand, have been excellent in both settings this year. Their tandems put together a 2.42 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in an MLB-most 29 games (5.51 innings per game) through July 15, while the traditional starters had a 3.09 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in 67 games (5.79 innings per game).♦♦♦The Angels moved Pena into a bulk role in April after he made four starts to begin the season. Even though Friday was unusual for many reasons, it was also a typical night, for these reasons:— He began with a clean inning after replacing Cole. Pena has not entered a game mid-inning as a bulk reliever.— His first batter was the Mariners’ No. 7 hitter, Tom Murphy, rather than the leadoff man, Smith. Pena has faced the No. 5 hitter or lower first in 10 of his 13 bulk outings; the other three appearances began with the No. 4 hitter. — He faced 22 batters in all, just two over his season average as a bulk reliever. The only batting order spots he faced a third time were seventh, eighth, ninth and first.Those last two points go to the heart of what teams try to do with bulk relievers: keep them away from the top of the order in the first inning, when the most runs historically are scored, and the third time through, when slash-line averages spike.MORE: White Sox will limit Dylan Cease, who plans to become a workhorseIt seems clear from the numbers that the Angels are most interested in giving Pena an easier “start” by having him follow an opener. He has a career 6.00 first-inning ERA and .815 first-inning opponents’ OPS; only his ninth innings (7.41 ERA, .936 OPS) have been worse. His third-time-through numbers as a starter are excellent (.580 OPS in 81 plate appearances).The Rays, as originators of the opener strategy, are more nuanced in using Yarbrough and their other primary bulk relievers, Jalen Beeks and Yonny Chirinos.— They set up Yarbrough, a left-hander who doesn’t throw hard, to follow the flamethrowing right-hander Stanek.— Yarbrough can enter the game anywhere from the first to the third, depending on matchups, and Cash will hook him quickly if necessary. As evidence, Yarbrough’s bulk innings this year range from two to 6 1/3.— Yarbrough has faced batters a third time in just two outings, and for only eight batters total. He faced 21 hitters Sunday, well above his 14.6 season average for bulk games. In contrast, he’s averaging seven innings and 27.75 hitters in his four starts.Yarbrough’s focus, naturally, is just on getting outs. “It’s basically the exact the same,” he told SN on Tuesday of bulk relieving and starting. “The only difference is I’m coming in in the second or third inning; that’s the only difference. I’m throwing bullpens in between, just like a starter would. I’m coming to the field later, like a starter would. It’s just a matter of coming in later in the game, not starting the game.”♦♦♦There is one other similarity between Pena and Yarbrough, and they share it with the bulk of this year’s bulk relievers: They don’t have a lot of major league service time. Pena was at one year, 79 days coming into the season, while Yarbrough accrued a full season as a rookie last year.Of the 36 bulk relievers who pitched in games through July 15, 30 had less than three years’ service time prior to 2019. The exceptions: Edwin Jackson, Wade LeBlanc, Tommy Milone, Drew Smyly and Angels hurlers Trevor Cahill and Nick Tropeano.Using less-experienced (and mostly less-hyped) pitchers increases the likelihood of buy-in into this innovative plan. Stanek (one year, 38 days prior to 2019) told reporters last year that he’d rather be opening in the majors than pitching in Triple-A. There’s also a monetary benefit to teams that go that route. Pitchers working in these roles don’t get to accumulate large counting numbers other than wins (Yarbrough had 16 last year as a swingman), and wins are supposedly passe among the fancy-stats folks who are running clubs. Those pitchers won’t, in theory, be able to make strong cases when they reach salary arbitration.♦♦♦Sixteen MLB teams, more than half the 30 clubs, used an opener through July 15, per SN’s research. They’ve treated opener games mostly as tandem starts rather than as advancements in bullpenning. Four teams — the Rays, Angels, Mariners and Yankees — accounted for more than two-thirds of all opener games (67 total).That’s why it was said at the beginning of this article that the strategy is catching on slowly, but maybe teams should speed things up. Those four clubs are a combined 42-25 (.627 winning percentage) when an opener goes — and when a bulk reliever follows.last_img read more

Suffolk golf club wins top national award

first_img Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club in Suffolk has become the first winner of England Golf’s Championship Venue of the Year Award, sponsored by Travelbag.The club was honoured at last night’s England Golf Awards 2018, sponsored by Bridgestone. About 500 guests attended the glittering, black tie event at the Royal Lancaster London to celebrate all that’s great about golf in England.Felixstowe Ferry hosted the 2017 English Women’s County Championship, a five day tournament involving six teams and their many supporters, which was eventually won by Yorkshire.Alison Kemp, who was ladies’ captain in 2017, said: “This just means everything to the club.” Jo Woodward, who helped to organise the event, added: “We are absolutely over the moon, this is testament to all the hard work that went into the championship by all the volunteers and staff, we have a great team  at Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club.”The club produced a course in tip-top condition and its army of volunteers included tireless hostesses who looked after the needs of each team. The club overcame a shortage of space for spectators by setting up a refreshment tent – serving Pimm’s in the afternoon – which turned into a tournament hub.The attention to detail was remarkable, right down to the seaside-themed decorations on each team’s table and the specially produced signage which helped to organise the car park – and even the members’ dogs wore club collars.The new award was introduced to recognise the contribution of the golf clubs which host England Golf’s 55 championships and tournaments each year, offering competition to 6000 players, ranging from handicap golfers to elite amateurs.England Golf championship director James Crampton commented: “We couldn’t run our events without the amazing support of our clubs and volunteers. All three of our finalists went above and beyond to make their events outstanding successes and deciding on our winner was extremely difficult.“Felixstowe Ferry won through because of the scale of their enthusiasm. The club got right behind the event from our very first meeting and the support they gave us was quite exceptional.”The other finalists for the award were Goswick Golf Club, Northumberland, which hosted the English Senior Men’s County Championship – also won by Yorkshire; and Manchester Golf Club, hosts of the English U14 Boys’ Open Championship for the Reid Trophy, won by the South African Casey Jarvis.Caption: Felixstowe Golf Club representatives (from left) Alison Kemp, Jo Woodward and club secretary David Spencer, with their award. It was presented by Ian Sykes from sponsors Travelbag 22 Feb 2018 Suffolk golf club wins top national award Tags: Award, Championship Venue of the Year, Felixstowe Ferrylast_img read more

TRIPLE CROWN CHAMP VICTOR ESPINOZA TO ACCEPT 2016 SANTA ANITA GEORGE WOOLF MEMORIAL JOCKEY AWARD ON SUNDAY; MEXICO CITY NATIVE SELECTED BY A VOTE OF JOCKEYS NATIONWIDE

first_imgWOOLF AWARD TROPHY TO BE PRESENTED AFTER THE 6TH RACE SUNDAY AT SANTA ANITA ARCADIA, Calif. (March 10, 2016)–As America’s first Triple Crown Champion jockey in 37 years, Victor Espinoza helped Thoroughbred racing project a positive image far beyond the confines of the Thoroughbred industry throughout 2015, thus elevating the sport’s exposure and acceptance to a level perhaps not seen since the 1970s. Accordingly, Espinoza, a 43-year-old native of Mexico City, has been selected by a vote of jockeys nationwide as the winner of Santa Anita’s highly coveted 2016 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award and he will accept the award in a Winner’s Circle ceremony following Sunday’s sixth race.“It’s quite an honor for any rider to be selected by his peers as the winner of such a prestigious award,” said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “And I would like to congratulate Victor on this great achievement.”In addition to numerous national television appearances through the 2015 Triple Crown and last fall’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Espinoza also remained tireless in his efforts on behalf of cancer-stricken youth, donating 10 percent of his winnings to support pediatric cancer research at City of Hope, in nearby Duarte.With the Bob Baffert-trained American Pharoah providing the horsepower, Espinoza gleefully proclaimed himself “The luckiest Mexican on earth,” on national television following their win in the Belmont Stakes June 6.In addition to winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, Espinoza and Santa Anita-based American Pharoah won last year’s Grade II Rebel Stakes, Grade I Arkansas Derby, Grade I Haskell Invitational and, in a performance for the ages, the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by 6 ½ lengths on Oct. 31–all the while elevating the profile of jockeys nationwide and generating tremendous ratings on a consistent basis.Born on a dairy farm near Mexico City, Espinoza is the 11th of 12 children. A three-time ESPY Award winner, Espinoza has three career Kentucky Derby wins, three Preakness victories, three Breeders’ Cup wins and he’s taken 11 Southern California riding titles.First presented by Santa Anita in 1950, Espinoza is the 67th winner of the Woolf Award, which seeks to honor riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and Thoroughbred racing. The remaining four finalists for this year’s award, which can only be won once during a rider’s career, were Joe Bravo, Javier Castellano, Gerard Melancon and Joe Steiner.last_img read more