On Friday night Brian Fuentes blew his third save of the season, allowing 3 ER on 2 H and 1 BB over 0.2 innings. The big blow, of course, was the home run from Ryan Roberts which accounted for all three runs.
Fuentes is currently sporting a 5.24 ERA and, while former closer Grant Balfour has significantly better numbers (3.13 ERA), I wouldn’t consider him the obvious choice to get the closers job back. It’s possible he can, at some point, as the A’s try to build up the trade value of their relief pitchers for potential summer trades.
That said, all eyes should by on Ryan Cook and his sterling 0.64 ERA and 0.89 WHIP over 28.0 innings of work. He also appears to be the choice du jour, collecting saves in back-to-back appearances this week. However, before fantasy owners get too excited about what Cook has done thus far, he has the potential to implode before long.
First off, all you have to do is look at his minor league numbers to get an idea. Does a 3.74 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 7.45 K/9 really excite anyone? Granted, he spent a lot of time as a starting pitcher in the minors, so things are slightly skewed.
He was moved to the bullpen in 2011, where he did post impressive results:
- Double-A (44.0 IP) – 2.25 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 10.23 K/9, 2.86 BB/9
- Triple-A (17.0 IP) – 2.12 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.35 K/9, 4.24 BB/9
It’s the Triple-A numbers that are concerning, because it nearly reflects what he has done in the Major Leagues. In 38 outings between 2011 and 2012 Cook has managed an 8.58 K/9 and 6.06 BB/9. Sure, the walks are down this season, but he’s still sporting a 5.14 BB/9.
Now, throw in his .141 BABIP and 92.3% strand rate and you realize that things could turn in a hurry. He has benefitted from a 9.5% line drive rate, another number he may have a problem maintaining.
Obviously, if he can get the strikeouts up from his current 8.65 K/9 a regression in the other numbers could be nullified a little bit. However, how much of an improvement can we really count on? Just consider his Triple-A number and you realize he’s not about to start posting a K/9 of 12+.
I’m not saying that I wouldn’t want to own him. As a closer with strikeout upside he is going to have value in all formats. However, proceed with caution. The control is similar to that of Carlos Marmol and we all know what happened to him.
In short stints he could have significant value and thrive, but long-term there’s a good chance that he flops. Put in your claims and get him if you need saves (or trade bait), but be ready to cut the cord quickly.