There's been a good amount of grousing about bullpen performances early on, and for good reason. Setting aside standard-issue Bronx hysteria, several projected contenders -- and not just the Yankees -- are suffering hope-crushing setbacks from their high-profile relievers. In some cases, as in Cleveland, this is a repeat of past problems. In the case of the Angels and the Cubs, deliberate offseason changes from one successful closer to someone else are blowing up in their faces.
A few high-profile relievers struggle in high-profile situations, folks get angry and we think we know what's going on. But in evaluating bullpen performance, we end up leaving a few things out: Specifically, the critical situations in which relievers appear, how managers adapt to those situations, and the pitcher usage patterns skippers fall into.