Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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Change in Every Tier

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (8) (AKA: The "Bob Horner" Tier.)


Kenley Jansen (first chair), Javy Guerra (second chair), Los Angeles Dodgers
Chris Sale (first chair), Addison Reed (second chair), Hector Santiago (third chair), Chicago White Sox
Steve Cishek (first chair), Edward Mujica (second chair), Heath Bell (third chair), Miami Marlins
Chris Perez (first chair), Vinnie Pestano (second chair), Cleveland Indians
Rafael Dolis (first chair), Carlos Marmol (second chair), Michael Bowden (third chair), Chicago Cubs
Scott Downs (first chair), Jordan Walden (second chair), Ernesto Frieri (third chair), Los Angeles Angels
Dale Thayer (first chair), Andrew Cashner (second chair), Luke Gregerson (third chair), San Diego Padres
Francisco Cordero (first chair), Casey Janssen (second chair), Jason Frasor (third chair), Toronto Blue Jays


Bob Horner hit four home runs, like the rest of these guys. He amassed six RBI, so he didn't even hit four solo jobs. And he did it in 1986, so it wasn't the height of the power boom. But Bob Horner hit his home runs in an 11-8 loss. He was the only one to lose his four-homer game. For that, Bob Horner, you get the final tier. Which is full of closers that may lose you some games, fittingly.


Well, Kenley Jansen was a favorite of ours from the beginning, and shame on us for beginning to believe in Guerra. I suspect Jansen will move quickly -- his strikeout rate is elite, and his control has been better this year -- but everybody has to start somewhere. And Guerra's control has not actually been his problem this year, it's been more about his batted ball luck, so he could end up back in the role. Congratulations to those that held on to Jansen. He's the better pitcher.


Chris Sale is the next guy to zoom up the rankings, but his first move back in the pen was to blow a save, so let's start him somewhere easy. Safe to say, this lefty is lights-out, and he's not returning to the rotation this year, so he's going to be a great closer if the tender elbow holds up. Sure, Addison Reed is great, but his long-term closer hopes just got dashed. There's always the trade market!


Next up on the list is Steve Cishek, who's a great pitcher, but has the misfortune of pitching in the same pen as a nigh-$30 million man. Cishek hits the trifecta -- many strikeouts, few walks, many ground balls -- and hasn't suffered any velocity loss, but if Heath Bell figures out his curveball again, then he'll be back in the role. Cishek is better than Edward Mujica, though, so let's put Cishek ahead.


Chris Perez blew the first save of his season today. Seems like he should have blown more. He's recovered some of his swinging strikes though (almost average!) and is showing the best control of his career (almost average!). He's getting a few ground balls too (almost average!). So maybe he'll move up in the rankings next week.


Carlos Marmol has no idea where the ball is going, so he's been demoted. His manager says there's no guarantee he'll get the job back, even. Rafael Dolis is the guy now, but he has no idea where the ball is going, and also doesn't get strikeouts. Ground balls only get you so far. James Russell has an idea where the ball is going, but has trouble against righties -- and the league is three-quarters right-handed. Kerry Wood is still Kerry Wood, and would make a fine closer, but he's only signed for one year and his manager has already ruled him out. What about dark horse Michael Bowden? He's got decent skills and is under control for a while. Think about it.


Supposedly it's still Scott Downs in Los Angeles of Anaheim once his knee is feeling better. But Downs is a lefty and managers prefer righties in the closer role. Jordan Walden has his jump step and no control, but his strikeout punch means he's still in the picture. Ernesto Frieri is a bit of a dark horse, since he's new to the picture, but he's probably the best option of the three. Consider picking him up if you have, say, Andrew Cashner on your team.


Because it looks like Dale Thayer (and his amazing mustache) is the guy in San Diego. Two straight days, Cashner has gotten the eighth and Thayer the ninth. Thayer hasn't traditionally struck anyone out, but he does have good control and gets grounders. And this year, he's altered his pitching mix -- tons of sliders -- so he's getting more swinging strikes. He could be fine for the month or so Street is out.


It's a scrum in Toronto. Casey Janssen should get the next save if Francisco Cordero has lost the job. Janssen has been used after Jason Frasor in most wins in the past week, and his peripherals are exciting even if his ERA is not. Sergio Santos just started to throw, though, so whoever does get the job might only do so for a couple weeks.


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Andrew Bailey, Boston Red Sox
Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay Rays
Drew Storen, Washington Nationals
Sergio Santos, Toronto Blue Jays
Huston Street, San Diego Padres


Nothing really new here for most guys. Drew Storen thinks he's ahead of schedule, but there's no news other than the fact that around the All-Star break is the plan. Sergio Santos got cleared to throw and is playing catch.  He might be two weeks away from a rehab assignment, but that assignment should be short if he's feeling good. Huston Street says his timetable isn't long, but he can't tell you if it's going to be two weeks or a month.


The Deposed


Heath Bell, Miami Marlins
Jordan Walden, Los Angeles Angels
Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs
Hector Santiago, Chicago White Sox


These guys aren't here permanently. Well, Hector Santiago might be. Chris Sale is in the pen for his elbow, so he won't go back to the rotation. And he's a better pitcher (and lefty) than Santiago or Matt Thornton. Let's just say they are listed in here in the order of their likelihood of returning to the role.


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The Steals Department


Depends on how desperate you are, but a mainstay of the steals section -- Juan Pierre -- is almost definitely on your wire. He's not starting every day, but even on days he doesn't start, he's still able to steal bases. He's done it twice this year. And as a lefty, he's got the hefty part of the platoon. Go old school?


Deep leaguers, look to Kansas City! Johnny Giavotella has been called up and the word is that the team is looking into trading Chris Getz (who will be quite the 'get' for his new team, amiright). Johnny G doesn't have great power or speed, so he's not a great option in most leagues, but deeper leagues will like his decent batting average, just-under-league-average owe, and double-digit steals from here on out. He could manage .280 5/10 pretty easily, and the job is supposedly his. A bonanza! Of course, if you really want steals, you should check if Lorenzo Cain replacement Jarrod Dyson is still out there for you. Dyson's got no power whatsoever, and a below-average walk rate, but this year he's finally making contact. He could hit .260 or so with eight-to-ten steals a month while Cain is out.

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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