Archive for Bullpen Banter

Searching for Saves: Los Angeles Angels: Is Cam Bedrosian Primed To Win The Closers Role?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Los Angeles Angels appear primed to enter the spring with a competition for ninth inning duties with three candidates in the mix.  While they may not yet be ready to name a closer, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a clear leader, or should we say  “best option”.  Of course when it comes to closers the best candidate isn’t always the one who gets the job.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at the three options and who is the most likely to get the job:

 

Cam Bedrosian
If circumstances had been different he would likely be entering the 2017 campaign with the closers role.  Just when he was about to get his chance in 2016 injury struck, ending his opportunity to claim the job before it even started.  That said, a long hyped “closer of the future” Bedrosian checked all the boxes in regards to the skill set we look for:

  • 11.38 K/9
  • 3.12 BB/9
  • 49.5% groundball rate

Read more

Bullpen Banter: Is Jeanmar Gomez Really Going To Close For Philadelphia?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

According to Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News (click here for the article):

But after Tuesday’s first workout for pitchers and catchers, Pete Mackanin anointed Gomez as his ninth-inning man.

“I believe he deserves to be called our closer at this point,” the Phillies manager said.

It’s a bit of a surprise, considering the addition of Joaquin Benoit, the presence of Hector Neris and the struggles of Gomez down the stretch (19.13 ERA over 8.0 September innings).  We all know that the closer role is always fluid so this statement shouldn’t be held as gospel, though that doesn’t change the reaction.

Could this be a situation where the Phillies are trying to inflate Gomez’ value via trade?  It’s possible, as you can argue that his makeup is the least impressive of the three candidates: Read more

Searching for Saves: Milwaukee Brewers: Is Neftali Feliz The Best Closing Option?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Milwaukee Brewers recently added Neftali Feliz, a move that makes sense after they’ve traded away three potential closing candidates since the 2016 Trade Deadline.  They need someone to pitch late in games, but is Feliz the answer?  While he has proven capable of doing the job before (99 career saves, including 72 for the Rangers between 2010 and 2011), he’s not the same pitcher that he once was.

Injuries have played a role, though Feliz did show an uptick in his strikeout stuff as he posted his best K/9 (10.23 K/9) since debuting over 31.0 IP for the Rangers in 2009.  He rediscovered his fastball, averaging 96.86 mph on his fourseam fastball (his best mark since 2011).  Considering the amount he threw the pitch (70.1%), having success with it is paramount:

.205 BAA, 15.36% Whiff%

Those are great numbers, but can we expect them to continue?  The Batting Average Against came courtesy of a lot of luck (.238 BABIP), and while his fastball has often been his best swing and miss pitch it was actually his slider that soared in effectiveness (20.00% Whiff%).  Maybe that came courtesy of his time in Pittsburgh, and we now have to hope he can take that success with him. Read more

Setting the Odds: Could A Sleeper Emerge As The Best Closing Option In Cincinnati?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The question of who would close for the Reds was already hanging out there, but the addition of Drew Storen puts a new spin on things.  While he’s coming off a down season, without an established option in the mix it’s impossible to count him out of the running.  Who is the favorite to get the role?  Who has the highest upside?  Let’s take a look at the options and set the odds as to who is going to get the job:

 

Raisel Iglesias
Chances of Closing: 45%

The Reds converted Iglesias to the bullpen in an effort to keep him healthy, and the results were certainly impressive as he posted a 1.98 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9.72 K/9 and 3.42 BB/9 over 50.0 IP as a reliever.  You can argue that there was luck behind the success, with a .215 BABIP and 86.1% strand rate, but even a regression in those marks may not hurt him.  As it is his 11.6% SwStr% should lead to more strikeouts while he’s proven to have better control (2.64 BB/9 in ’15) and the ability to generate more groundballs (40.6% in ’16 as compared to 47.2% in ’15). Read more

Searching For Saves: Could Wily Peralta Be The Best Closing Option For Milwaukee?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

If you follow the mantra of “Don’t pay for saves,” you are always looking for the next great closer to emerge.  They often seem to come out of nowhere, as team’s suddenly shift a starter or elite prospect to the bullpen to fill a need.  Considering the moves Milwaukee have made in recent months, jettisoning three potential closer options, they’ve left a gaping void at the back of the bullpen.  There isn’t an obvious option to step in, so could the team go unconventional?

They have a slew of starting options, so after his struggles to figure it out in the rotation could the Brewers transition Wily Peralta to the bullpen?  Over the past two seasons he’s posted ERAs of 4.72 and 4.86, so it’s easy to argue that they have nothing to lose.  Plus, isn’t it easy to envision his skills playing well in short bursts?

Peralta has never shown much strikeout stuff in the Majors, with a career 6.38 K/9.  However he’s always been a player we’ve seen more upside in than that.  As it is his fastball averages 94.8 mph, and without having to pace himself there’s reason to believe that it ticks up another mile per hour or two.  That would help his slider play up, a pitch that already boasted a 15.09% Whiff% in ’16. Read more

Searching for Saves: Can Daniel Hudson Claim The Closers Role In Pittsburgh?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Pirates took a step in replacing Mark Melancon, the ace closer they traded at the Trade Deadline, with the addition of Daniel Hudson yesterday. The question now is if he’s going to step into the closer’s role? Maybe not initially, after Tony Watson fared well in the role in ’16, but it’s certainly not impossible at some point. Let’s take a look at both relievers and their potential upside:

 

Daniel Hudson
His 5.22 ERA would make you think that he isn’t a strong option, and he obviously struggled (a 27.1% line drive rate tells us that), but there clearly is upside. As it is he showed enough strikeouts (8.65 K/8) and solid control (3.28 BB/9) for the second straight season.  That said, his strikeouts improved dramatically as the season progressed:

  • First Half – 6.82
  • Second Half – 10.87

With a 12.0% SwStr% (after a 13.0% mark in 2015) and a fastball that averaged 95.7 mph, there’s obviously reason to believe in the increased numbers. He also generated a lot of popups (19.0%), so while we’d love to see a few more groundballs (40.9%) the makeup is strong.

We all know that Pittsburgh has a habit of turning these types of pitchers into stars, and Hudson could easily thrive.

 

Tony Watson
He did earn 15 saves last season, but he’s not your prototypical strikeout closer (7.71 K/9) nor does he generate a lot of groundballs (43.8%). The question is if he’s more of a left-handed specialist, after allowing 8 HR to right-handed hitters last season.

He has held righties to a .211 BAA against over his career and his slugging isn’t all that bad:

  • vs. RHH – .352
  • vs. LHH – .284

It’s easy to see him getting a shot to open the year with the role, given his success. At the same time could the Pirates want him back in his prototypical setup role? That’s another easy thing to envision.

 

Conclusion
While we wouldn’t expect Hudson to open the year with the job, even if it’s not Watson who doesn’t start in it, would it be a surprise if he ultimately got an opportunity? We long thought he could rise to the role in Arizona, and a fresh start in an organization that has long gotten the most out of its pitchers could be the perfect opportunity. As a late round flier, for those searching for saves, he makes a ton of sense.

Source – Fangraphs

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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catcher01/09/17--
First Base01/16/17--
Second Base01/23/17--
Third Base02/06/17--
Shortstop02/13/17--
Outfield#1-20 |02/20/17

#21-40 |02/22/17
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Starting Pitcher12/13/16--
Relief Pitcher01/02/17--