Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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The Ax(ford) is Bringing Heat

Wednesday, June 22, 2011



Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (5) (AKA: The "BB" Tier.)



1st Chair: Ryan Madson, 2nd Chair: Jose Contreras, Philadelphia Phillies
1st Chair: Kevin Gregg, 2nd Chair: Koji Uehara, Baltimore Orioles
1st Chair: Mark Melancon, 2nd Chair: Wilton Lopez, Houston Astros
1st Chair: Frank Francisco, 2nd Chair: Jon Rauch, Toronto Blue Jays
1st Chair: Javy Guerra, 2nd Chair: Blake Hawksworth, Los Angeles Dodgers

Comment:
  • I guess a slow fastball might be a BB, or a straight one. But if it had any more giddyap, it would be a bullet. And a BB looks like a walk. All so confusing.

  • This tier is really shrinking as teams settle on closers. Even the situation in Philadelphia probably deserves to be in the tier above. The guy who couldn't close games now only has one blown save on the year and Brad Lidge is still a ways away. The possible sunset on his value is more worrisome than, say, Brandon League's, and that makes up the difference in tiers. David Aardsma has had two setbacks this year, and Brad Lidge is mostly moving along in his rehab with a slight bump or two in the road.

  • You could also say that Kevin Gregg doesn't belong down here. He has an ERA in the threes and has only blown four saves. But he has 23 strikeouts against 19 walks and is a fly-ball pitcher in Camden Yards. The home runs could start flying at any moment, and if one of those walks is on the bases, the saves might as well fly with them. Koji Uehara is a better pitcher, and if Gregg strings together a few blown saves, things will change.

  • The argument could even be made for Mark Melancon to move up. With Brandon Lyon most likely out for the year once he undergoes biceps tendon surgery, his role is relatively safe. Since becoming the closer in June, he has only had three save chances but has been successful in all three. He's also struck out ten against two walks in eight June appearances. That improvement in his strikeout ratio bodes well for him especially.

  • Toronto is our first real pick'em situation. Jon Rauch might be the closer right now, but he hasn't completed a save since June seventh. He's also given up four runs in his last four outings. Frank Francisco still has the better BBs, meaning his fastball is faster and he also walks more batters. Well, he also has the last two saves. So he's probably the closer. Now that the home runs aren't flying out of the park every outing, he's been decent. In June, he has given up one earned run with six strikeouts against three walks. If you had to bet on one to keep the job all year, it's Frankie Frank.

  • Los Angeles is even more of a mess. Javy Guerra got the last save - June 19th against Houston - but he's not the greatest pitcher. In six and a third June innings, he only has two strikeouts against two walks. He's probably a temporary solution, but with Vicente Padilla out for the year, Jonathan Broxton still rehabbing, and Hong-Chih Kuo dealing with a mystery confidence issue, who knows what 'temporary' means.


  • * * * * * * * * * *



    Injured


    David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners (elbow)
    Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies (shoulder)
    Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers (elbow)
    Vicente Padilla, Los Angeles Dodgers (neck)
    Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins (elbow)

    Comment:
  • Not a ton of news here. The biggest, both literally and figuratively, might be that Jonathan Broxton is on his rehab assignment currently and could be on the major league roster by the weekend. Also of note is that Joe Nathan pitched a perfect inning and touched 93 MPH over the weekend. Both guys could be closing as soon as this weekend, with Broxton ahead by a nose, or a belly.


  • The Deposed:
    Fernando Rodney, Los Angeles
    Ryan Franklin, St. Louis
    Brandon Lyon, Houston

  • We told you last week to expect Brandon Lyon on this list shortly, and now he's here. We could put him on the injured list, but he's headed for season-ending surgery and wasn't all that great to begin with. Ryan Franklin fixed a mechanical flaw last Friday or something. He's still not a great pitcher, and he wasn't even used during a nightmare nine-run eighth inning Tuesday night. Trever Miller, Jason Motte, Brian Tallet, Miguel Batista and Maikel Cleto were all used instead.


  • * * * * * * * * * *


    The Steals Department

  • He's hitting .252 with one home run and is known for his glove first, but Alcides Escobar is heating up. Over the last two weeks, he's got nearly a .500 batting average with five steals. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that he could easily hit .275 with twenty-plus more steals going forward. In mixed leagues, that's more of a Middle Infield type of play, but Ian Desmond and Erick Aybar owners might want to take notice that there's a guy that could spell their starting shortstop for a little while. Ryan Theriot owners? They could even make the switch straight up. A nice batting average is only worth so much if the guy isn't hitting home runs or stealing bags.


  • Maybe we can drop the pre-amble when it comes to the deep league options. Often, we have to point out in this space that the player is flawed. For example, Chris Getz has no power at all. He might be lucky to hit one home run this year. And he doesn't *quite* play every day. And his combination of skills might not beget better than a .270 batting average going forward. But you know what, maybe we don't need all that. The fact of the matter is that, in deep leagues, all you really need to know is that he's a living, breathing major-league regular that has speed. That mediocre batting average, plus another 10-to-15 stolen bags, works in some leagues. And if you're in those leagues, you probably don't need the whole pre-amble about his flaws.


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    Eno Sarris is an editor and writer at FanGraphs.com. You can find his work gathered in one place at and enosarris.com. Follow his misadventures in writing on Twitter as well.
    Email :Eno Sarris



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