Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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Baby Closers

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (6) (AKA: The "It's a Boy!" gloss baseball" Tier.)

Chris Perez (first chair), Vinnie Pestano (second chair), Cleveland Indians
Francisco Cordero (first chair), Jason Frasor (second chair), Toronto Blue Jays
Henry Rodriguez (fourth chair), Brad Lidge (second chair), Washington Nationals
Fernando Rodney (first chair), Joel Peralta (second chair), Tampa Bay Rays
Santiago Casilla (first chair), Sergio Romo (second chair), Javier Lopez (third chair), San Francisco Giants
Alfredo Aceves (first chair), Daniel Bard (second chair), Boston Red Sox


Well, we knew it was a boy for a while, so it's not really news to us. And we would have been just as happy with a girl. And where am I going to put this glossy baby blue ceramic tchotchke ball? How long till the baby breaks it? Who is it meant to impress? So far, so good that none of these have ended up in our mailbox. I do own plenty of these closers, though. I just won't put them on the top shelf for everyone to see. They are the shame we endure for playing in saves leagues. 


Chris Perez has seemingly righted the ship, with seven straight saves successfully banked. But that isn't to say that he's become a better pitcher. He still only has five strikeouts in eight innings -- which makes him a liability in that department. He has four walks in those same innings, which isn't good. His ground-ball rate is also still bad. If he can continue to suppress home runs -- while with the Indians his home-run-per-fly-ball rate has been half the league average, he can maybe keep doing this. Problem is, it's never been reliably shown that a player can control that rate.


Francisco Cordero is pretty much an unquestioned closer for the next month.  He's also showing the worst swinging strike rate of his career. But his control is decent, he's getting ground balls, and Jason Frasor is not really an impediment. He should be owned in all leagues.


Henry Rodriguez has not improved his control. The baby fireballer has always had gas (he averages 98+ on his fastball), but he's never been able to place the ball exactly where he wants to. This year, he has six walks in his eight and a third innings, and that's pretty bad. It's also pretty much right in line with his career rates. So he's a bit of a time bomb. At least he's not a veteran throwing his slider two-thirds of the time (and hanging half of them). There doesn't seem to be a great reason to run Brad Lidge out there for the next save opportunity.


Fernando Rodney has found control with a simple positioning change. He moved his spot on the rubber and has cut his career walk rate in half so far this year. He's still getting ground balls and can strike a dude out, so he seems in command at the closer's role in Tampa Bay. Still, walk rate doesn't become reliable that fast, he's had a long career of terrible control, and Kyle Farnsworth is already talking about throwing. Might just be a (crazy) little blip.


Too bad the Giants have only managed two saves since Brian Wilson went down. The first went to Santiago Casilla, who is still the leader in the clubhouse. The club is a little worried about Sergio Romo's ability to pitch in back-to-back games given the wonky health of his elbow in the past, and Clay Hensley is better used as a matchups guy. The save he got was in an extra-inning affair -- after Casilla pitched poorly and Romo came in for two outs (and two hits). Casilla and Romo both need to be owned for just a little while longer.


Alfredo Aceves? Alfredo Aceves. This year he's getting strikeouts but lost his control completely. In the past, he hasn't had a single rate that spoke well of him as a pitcher. He was pretty lucky on batted balls last year. There's still an outside chance he can settle down and be a mediocre closer, but Daniel Bard is suddenly in the pen again. Is it temporary? All it will take is a couple more blown saves and a Roy Oswalt signing, and things will change quickly in Boston.


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Andrew Bailey (thumb), Oakland Athletics
Kyle Farnsworth (elbow soreness), Tampa Bay Rays
Drew Storen (elbow surgery), Washington Nationals
Sergio Santos (shoulder pain), Toronto Blue Jays


You never never never want to hear anything about your pitcher's shoulder, but maybe Santos escaped the worst. An MRI showed no structural damage and it might just be inflammation. Still, he's not throwing for two weeks and Co-Co Cordero is a closer once again for at least another month. If someone dropped Santos in your league, and you have a DL spot for him, pick him up. Once he's healthy he should be lights-out once again.


Kyle Farnsworth should begin to throw sometime this week since the pain is gone. Storen had successful surgery -- guessing that means they didn't cut the wrong elbow or remove a kidney by accident -- and the team still thinks he'll be back by the All-Star break. Every year someone goes down like this, and if this is all the bad news these guys get, it won't be the worst year they see.


The Deposed


None… yet. Alfredo Aceves is just begging for it, though.


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The Steals Department


He's not as 'safe' as Ruben Tejada, but Alcides Escobar does have more speed upside than the Met shortstop. The reason he's not so safe is because he doesn't have the patience to get on base to flash his wheels when the hits aren't falling. And so far in his career, his batted-ball luck has been neutral-to-poor, so his batting averages have been unsightly. But Escobar puts the ball on the ground a ton, makes contact at an above-average rate, and does have wheels. One year -- maybe this one -- he'll hit .290+ with 30+ steals. Certainly his luck has been better on balls in play so far this year. Even with fewer than double-digit home runs, he'd be a top-twelve shortstop with those numbers.


If all the players had a foot race all at once, it would be very confusing, but Tony Campana would probably win it. Dude can fly. But if Escobar has flaws, Campana has problems. Escobar has little power -- Campana has none. He has two home runs in his entire career, spanning all the way back to 2008. Escobar strikes out a wee too much for a spray-and-sprint kind of guy -- Campana might strike out at the league average. Campana also shares the lack of patience. And yet Tony Montana Campana is faster, and he's hot, and he's not to be messed with. Mixed league streamer and H2H types can ride that hot hand, but roto players should be more cynical. He's a deep leaguer at heart.

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.
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