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Bullpen of the Week: Rays

Club employs creative 'pen strategy to post 1.47 ERA in 36 2/3 innings
MLB.com @MannyOnMLB

In a memorable week featuring the deployment of an unorthodox pitching strategy by the Rays, Tampa Bay's bullpen -- which included hurlers normally appearing in games as starters -- posted a 1.47 ERA over 36 2/3 innings to garner MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford honors for the week of May 21-27.

As part of The Hartford Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2018 season, MLB.com is honoring baseball's best bullpen from the previous week. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.

In a memorable week featuring the deployment of an unorthodox pitching strategy by the Rays, Tampa Bay's bullpen -- which included hurlers normally appearing in games as starters -- posted a 1.47 ERA over 36 2/3 innings to garner MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford honors for the week of May 21-27.

As part of The Hartford Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2018 season, MLB.com is honoring baseball's best bullpen from the previous week. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.

Here's how the Bullpen Rating System is compiled for each week. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:

• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded

• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout

• Add 5 points for a save

• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed

• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed

• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed

• Subtract 1 point for each walk

• Subtract 5 points for a blown save

Tampa Bay's relief corps finished the week with a score of 133.5, far outpacing the second-place Brewers, whose bullpen finished with a score of 109.5.

The Rays utilized several arms in relief during the week as they implemented a strategy in which they had relievers -- right-handers Sergio Romo and Ryne Stanek -- start multiple games.

Video: Romo starts 2 games in a row, K's 6 over 2 1/3 frames

The bullpen was led by right-hander Austin Pruitt, who gave up only one run over 11 innings (0.82 ERA) in two appearances. Rookie left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who had started three games for Tampa Bay earlier this season, came on in relief of Romo with two outs in the first inning against the Orioles on Friday night, proceeding to turn in seven brilliant innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts and no walks.

Other relievers who shined for the Rays during the week include rookie left-hander Anthony Banda (one run in 6 1/3 innings vs. Baltimore on Saturday) and Stanek (one hit in three scoreless innings in three appearances, one of which was a start).

The unexpected: After yielding one run over his first three career starts from May 19-25, the veteran Romo faltered in the first inning vs. the Orioles on Sunday, surrendering three runs while getting only one out before giving way to left-hander Vidal Nuno out of the bullpen.

How they prevailed: Nuno restored order Sunday, tossing three scoreless innings to give the Rays an opportunity to score six times in the third inning and take the lead. Pruitt took care of things from there, coming on in the fourth and silencing Baltimore's bats over 5 2/3 scoreless frames, striking out five and walking none as the Rays prevailed, 8-3.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Tampa Bay Rays