Searching for Saves: Two Under-the-Radar Options Who Could Earn Closing Duties


by Steve Grindstaff

 

Adam Ottavino – COL
Ottavino is off to a hot start, posting a 0.00 ERA through April 22.  With the struggles of Rex Brothers, Ottavino has become a hot name in the Rockies pen as his third season in Colorao is shaping up to be his finest yet.  However we need to look at some early season stats that are not sustainable.

His LD rate currently sits at 6%, way off the mark of his career norm of 24.8%.  Also, he sports a BABIP of .176 which is well below his career mark of .318.  While he has been good thus far through 9 innings, be warned that his numbers won’t be this good the rest of the season.

Now we can look at a few positives going in Ottavino’s favor.  His velocity is up from 91.4 in 2013 to 92.6 in 2014.  He is inducing groundballs at a career best 53%.  Add to that a first pitch strike rate up to 73.3% (4 straight seasons of improvement), swinging strike rate of 16.1% (career 11%) and contact rate of 66.1% (4 straight seasons of improvement) and things appear to be headed in the right direction.  Don’t be surprised if he gets the first crack at saves if LaTroy Hawkins struggles since Brothers is having major control problems.

 

Gonzalez Germen – NYM
Bobby Parnell is hurt, Jose Valverde lost his job as expected and now Kyle Farnsworth has taken over closing duties in NY.  Let’s be honest though, no one is expecting Farnsworth to hold the job for very long.  One intriguing name in the Mets bullpen is Gonzalez Germen. Germen struggled with control in 2013, but through 11.1 IP in 2014 he has decreased his walk rate by nearly half.  He is giving up less line drives (12.5% in 2014), but expect a correction to his 2013 mark of 21.2%.

Germen’s 2013 Triple-A stats may look ugly on the surface (5.52 ERA, 1.43 HR/9), but he posted impressive K/9 and BB/9 rates (10.4 and 2.25 respectively).  One key will be limiting the homeruns if he wants any sustained success.

It’s encouraging to see his first pitch strike rate up in 2014, and he possesses above average contact rates as well.  Germen may just find himself pitching in the ninth inning because everyone else in the Mets pen simply can’t get the job done.  He is worth keeping an eye on because he just may be able to lock down the job if given the opportunity.

 

Source: Fangraphs

One comment

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