Searching For Saves: Finding Sleepers To Target In Shaky Situations

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

For those who missed our introduction to Rotoprofessor’s own Reliever Reliability Quotient (RRQ), make sure to check out our introduction by clicking here.  The stat is used as a way to determine a reliever’s potential to thrive as a closer (keeping in mind that a pitcher with a low RRQ can get the job done, or one with a higher mark still has the potential to struggle).  It’s all about identifying potential, and as a reference here’s a reminder of our grading system:

Score
Skill Level
76+Elite
51-75Above Average
26-50Solid (though worth monitoring)
0-25Questionable makeup
<0High Risk For Struggles

The latest run is based on stats through July 5, and again uses 20.0 IP as a minimum to be included (there were 207 pitchers who qualified).  So let’s take a look at two situations and try to determine who could emerge in the second half:

 

Arizona Diamondbacks
We all know that Fernando Rodney is a disaster waiting to happen, and he showed it on Thursday with one of the biggest implosions we’ve seen (4 ER on 2 H and 4 BB without recording an out).  The assumption has been that Archie Bradley is next up, and that would certainly make sense, but is he really the best option?  Let’s take a look at the RRQ:

Pitcher
RRQ
Andrew Chafin68.53
Archie Bradley39.75
Fernando Rodney(18.55)

It shouldn’t be surprising that the team has pitchers more equipped to handling ninth inning duties.  Bradley has been groomed into the role, and his skill set is more than enough to potentially thrive.  You can argue that he’s benefited from a 97.5% strand rate, however, and that there could be some stumbles on the horizon.

Chafin owns the fifth highest RRQ, which is a surprise (he trails only Craig Kimbrel, Roberto Osuna, Felipe Rivero & Kenley Jansen).  However, if you look at his skillset it shouldn’t be:

  • Strikeout Rate – 12.07 K/9
  • Walk Rate – 2.54 BB/9
  • Groundball Rate – 61.8%

The big change from past seasons is the increased usage of his slider (27.75% to 40.74%), and it’s been a successful one.  He’s generating more groundballs than ever before, while also getting swings and misses (11.2% SwStr%) and hardly yielding fly balls (16.2%).

Few Walks + Little Risk of HR + Strikeouts = Dominant

Don’t overlook him as a potential closing option, once a change is needed.

 

Oakland A’s
Does anyone really believe that Santiago Casilla is going to hold down the job much longer?  If you do, you shouldn’t as the team has two better options waiting in the wings:

Player
RRQ
Sean Doolittle89.25
Ryan Madson51.15
Santiago Casilla(20.32)

Doolittle actually doesn’t have enough innings to qualify, falling less than two innings short, but if he did his score would trail just Craig Kimbrel.  Maybe he’s not an elite groundball pitcher, but outside of that it’s hard to find fault with his stuff:

  • IFFB – 21.1%
  • SwStr% – 16.4%
  • O-Swing% – 44.8%

Madson is no slouch and, as a righty, could be viewed by the team as an option as well once they opt to replace Casilla.  Nearly a Top 10 RRQ score, he does it more with groundballs (55.70%), but also has more than enough swing and miss stuff (11.50% SwStr%) to thrive as well.  Either way the team goes, Casilla’s days should be numbered as the skillset pales in comparison to the other two.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

2 comments

  1. Rodney says:

    Any feelings on Jorge Polanco?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I’ll take a deep look into him over the break, but he’s a player to ride while he’s going well but don’t think he emerges as more than a sleeper

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