Relief - if you can call it that
The Cincinnati Reds come into this week's series with the Astros showing an interesting trend in their hitting of batters. They've hit 10 batters this season, and all 10 HBPs were thrown by relief pitchers. The Reds haven't hit anyone earlier than the 6th inning all season, and they lead the league in relief plunks. Todd Coffey leads the team in plunks this year, and is tied for the lead in hitting batters in relief appearances. Coffey also plunked Biggio on May 30, 2005.
Since 1988 (the Craig Biggio era) bullpens have out-plunked their team's starters slightly over once a year on average, although 6 teams did it in 1994. Cincinnati has done it twice in that span, but none of the 'pens who outplunked their starters has done it by more than 9 hit batters. The '95 Expos threw 25 plunks as starters and 34 as relievers. The most plunks thrown by a relief staff in recent history was 42 by the 2001 Red Sox, but their starters hit another 51 batters. This year's Cincinnati team could easily eclipse that mark if they keep on their current pace.
Interestingly, the Reds are also the all time leader in plunking Biggio in relief appearances. 9 of Biggio's 21 HBPs against the Reds were thrown by relievers. In all, 84 of Biggio's 283 career plunks have been thrown by relievers.
Only 6 pitchers have plunked Biggio more than once as a relief pitcher. Steve Reed is the only one to do it 3 times. Orel Hershiser is the only pitcher to plunk Biggio twice in the same relief appearance, and Jorge Julio recently became the only pitcher to plunk Biggio as a reliever for two different teams. Jeff McCurry, Andy Benes and Willie Blair are the other 2 time relief plunkers. He's been hit by two different relievers in the same game once - August 17, 1997 by Scott Ruffcorn and Wayne Gomes of the Phillies.
Biggio was hit by relievers 9 times in 1995, and 1997, making those his best season for HBPs against bullpens. His longest streak of being hit exclusively by relievers is 4 plunks, though he's done that twice. He has twice gone 11 plunks by starters without being hit by a reliever.