Last week, we looked at one key statistic for each American League team. Let’s do the same now for the National League — a key number from the 2019 MLB season and how that will shape what happens in 2020.
The number: 4.18. The Braves finished 11th in the majors in bullpen ERA.
For the first half of the season, the Braves’ bullpen was the perceived weak spot of an otherwise excellent team, leading to the deadline acquisitions of Mark Melancon, Shane Greene and Chris Martin. Melancon and Greene were already under team control for 2020, and the club quickly re-signed Martin as a free agent while also adding Giants closer Will Smith with a three-year, $40 million contract. The club also re-signed Darren O’Day, who made just eight appearances in 2019.
On paper, it should be a much better bullpen and a key to the Braves’ hopes of three-peating in the NL East. It’s worth noting, however, that the bullpen was more mediocre than awful in 2019, ranking 11th in ERA and 14th in win probability added (WPA). The Braves also went 83-4 when leading after eight innings (a .954 winning percentage that mirrors the MLB average of .955) and were 11-6 in…