FBR – The Non Save Edition
Posted by jelletlambie on May 11, 2009
The FBR, or Fantasy Baseball Ramblings segment, appears regularly like pizza coupons on your doorknob. Think of it as a friend who comes into your home and spews obscure stats and bold predictions while drinking all your beer. Enjoy.
Yesterday Fernando Rodney of the Detroit Tigers was summoned from the pen in a 5-1 game in the 9th inning against the Indians. The Tigers were three outs away from sweeping the Indians thanks in large part to their starters allowing 1 earned run over 21 innings. The Tigers did win the game, but not before Fernando made it interesting by allowing 2 runs in this non-save situation.
Already this year I’ve seen an untold number of occassions where a closer was summoned in a non-save situation and was less than closer-esque. B.J. Ryan had a memorable disaster against the Indians back on April 11th, allowing 3 earned runs on 2 hits and 3 walks, George Sherrill suffered a 4 hit, 2 earned run non-save meltdown against the Rangers on April 14th, mighty Mariano Riviera coughed up back to back gopher balls against the Rays in a tie game on May 7th, Kerry Wood was knocked around by the Red Sox to the tune of 3 hits, 2 walks and 3 earned runs on April 27th – and the list goes on and on. It brought me to pause and wonder, why do closers struggle in games where there is less pressure, when it’s easier, when they should thrive?
With that thought in mind I settled in to do a little research. Fernando Rodney was my starting point. Rodney has 6 saves on the 2009 campaign, with a 5.25 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. I know, he aint pretty, he’s my closer. Yesterdays struggle raised his ERA more than a full run. So let’s examine Fernando in save situations vs. non-save situations.
when a save is on the line:
6 chances, 6 saves, 6 innings, 4 hits, 1 walk, 6 K’s, 1 earned run – 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP
6 innings pitched, 0-0 record, 10 hits, 3 walks, 3 K’s, 6 earned runs, 9.00 ERA, 2.17 WHIP
I love it when numbers confirm what I expected, now if I could only climb into his head and figure out why this happens to him. I’m sure Jim Leyland and the gang would love a chance at being John Malkovich as well. From Rodney I went on to dig into the numbers of the current saves leaders in MLB. 12 players as of this morning have 7 or more saves. They are – Ryan Franklin, Francisco Cordero, Brian Fuentes, Frankie Rodriguez, Frank Francisco, Chad Qualls, Heath Bell, Jonathon Broxton, Jonathon Papelbon, Bobby Jenks, Brian Wilson and Joakim Soria. The first thing I noticed was that 5 of the top 6 closers have franc or frank somewhere in their name, which is weird, yet carries no statistical relevance to this numerical study. Anyhow, these 12 closers have the following combined stats in save situations:
105 save chances in 108 and 1/3 innings pitched, 98 saves, a 3-2 record, 76 hits allowed, 42 walks allowed, 25 earned runs allowed and 113 K’s. Combined ERA in save situations – 2.08, combined WHIP – 1.09, combined K/9 – 9.4.
As expected, these men are the best in the business and surely get the job done with sparkling numerical evidence on their side. Now let’s examine their performance in non-save situations. The combined statistics read:
48 appearances, 51 and 1/3 innings pitched, a 7-1 record, 31 hits allowed, 16 walks allowed, 7 earned runs allowed and 63 K’s. Combined ERA in non-save situations – 1.18, combined WHIP – 0.92, combined K/9 – 11.05.
We’ve all seen closers gag on it when trotting out to the hill with a big cushion or in games where the team trailed and the closer was in for no reason other than he hadn’t pitched in a few days and needed the work. Right? I know I’ve seen it. Maybe it was just Fernando Rodney? Maybe the best closers in the game (statistically speaking so far) are just really good more often than not, whether the game is on the line or not.
Or perhaps these failures are simply more memorable than the routine working of a successful save chance. While they stick in our fantasy-trained minds, these hiccups represent the minority of the results, at least for the top 12 closers in the game as of this morning. Either way, it’s food for thought.
In other news:
Cameron Maybin could not be saved from the minor leagues, he was sent to AAA after yesterdays game. The 5-tool super prospect, who was the key cog in the Miguel Cabrera trade, is hitting .202 with 1 home run, 3 RBI’s and 31 strikeouts through 84 at-bats. It appears there is no timetable for his return. Count this as good news if you own Cody Ross, Jeremy Hermida or Chris Coghlan, as their playing time should be in good shape with Maybin off the roster.
Justin Verlander was saved Friday night, not by his closer but by Curtis Granderson and his game saving, home run robbing catch of Grady Sizemore and his center field shot. No comment was available from Grady’s ladies. Justin struck out 11 for the second straight start and now trails only Zack Greinke for the major league lead in K’s. Verlander has been nearly unhittable in his last three starts and should be firmly cemented in your rotation going forward.
Sidney Ponson owners should save a spot for Luke Hochevar, as the young phenom will be given yet another chance to figure it out in the 5th spot of the Royals rotation. Hochevar was recalled from AAA this morning. I expect he’ll get somewhat of a long leash considering his dominance in the minors this year and the lack of quality options available to replace him should he do his Sidney Ponson impression. Luke has been considered an ace in waiting for a while now but has never figured out big league hitters. If he can finally turn the corner your team could benefit from the big arm. If he pitches like he has thus far in his major league career (6-13, 5.21 ERA, 1.45 WHIP) you’ll want to employ some other options.
Joakim Soria will be in a 15 day non-save situation after being placed on the DL yesterday with a sore shoulder. While his numbers thus far have been excellent (7 saves, 2.08 ERA), he’s had some stiffness since the opener that the two week break should help. I’m not worried….yet, I’ll let you know if (when) I am.
In his last 3 games Troy Tulowitzki is 6 for 11 with 2 home runs, 4 RBI’s and 3 runs scored. He celebrated Sunday by pulling his quadricep. He’s saying all the right things about getting treatment and enjoying a day off today, but until the lineup card comes out tomorrow we won’t know much. Remember this is the same quad that tortured him last year. I’m hoping it’s nothing, after a tough 2008 and an early slump he was just starting to show us he could again be that strong hitter we saw in 2007.
Random fantasy studs over the last 7 days:
Christian Guzman – 13-34 (.382), 6 runs, 5 RBI’s and a home run
Ryan Zimmerman 15-32 (.469), 1 home run, 8 runs scored, 6 RBI’s
Jayson Werth – 9-21 (.429), 4 home runs, 10 RBI’s, 8 runs scored, 1.575 OPS
Frankie Rodriguez – 4 saves, 0.00 ERA
Adam Dunn – 10-29 (.345), 4 home runs, 6 runs scored, 10 RBI’s
Carlos Delgado – 11-26 (.423) 1 home run, 7 RBI’s, 7 runs scored
Joe Saunders – 2 wins, 13 K’s in 15 and 2/3, 1.15 ERA, 0.83 WHIP
Rick Porcello – 2 wins, 8 K’s in 12 innings, 0.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
Random Fantasy duds over the last 7 days:
Brandon Inge – 3-21 (.143), 1 RBI, 1 run scored
Magglio Ordonez – 3-17 (.176), 2 runs, 1 RBI
Geovany Soto – 4-20 (.200), 1 run, 1 RBI
Scott Downs – 0 saves, 10.13 ERA, 2.63 WHIP in 2 and 2/3 innings
Grady Sizemore – 5-28 (.179), 4 RBI’s, 1 run scored, 9 K’s
Felix Hernandez 0-2, 9.90 ERA, 1.90 WHIP
And finally good karma goes out this week to Brett Cecil of the Toronto Blue Jays. The 22 year old lefty had 12 K’s against 2 walks in 14 innings last week, picking up his first major league win in the process. He’s sporting an 0.64 ERA and an 0.93 WHIP through the two starts. He’ll have to fight through tougher opponents in the future and fight off guys like Ricky Romero and Jesse Litsch (who will be coming back off injuries) to keep his spot in the rotation. He was a stud closer at the University of Maryland making the transition to starting, good luck young man.
If you have comments, questions, swarmy outbursts or ideas for a future FBR segment your comments are welcome below. If you prefer the more traditional electronic mail route you can drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org