January 3, 2013
Three Late-Inning Relievers
Relievers are a fickle species; every year, many relievers come out of nowhere to make an impact at the major-league level. There doesn’t seem to be a clear formula for short-term success as a big-league reliever, but there are combinations that can be lethal in short doses, and right now the minor leagues house multiple arms that could impact a game near you in 2013. Today, we’ll look at three of them.
Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays
Stroman was used as a starter at Duke, but the Blue Jays used him exclusively as a reliever after they nabbed him with the 22nd overall pick in last June’s draft. There has never been a successful 5’9” starter in the major leagues, so Stroman as a starter would be unprecedented. He also struggled to hold his velocity as a starter, and so the move makes sense. Personally, I look at a guy with three weapons and a feel for pitching, which would have been enough for me to give him a chance as a starter before relegating him to a relief role, but Toronto has taken the road that most would have given Stroman’s issues.
People know that Stroman tested positive for a banned substance, but in 2013 he should provide additional reasons to remember his name. He’s going to be an impact, late-inning reliever.
Jake Diekman has a sexy package of tools, but here’s my favorite fact about him: he was a 30th round pick out of Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kansas. (Sorry, alliteraphobes. Next time, I’ll bold my alliteration so you skip it over.) I don’t know if alliteraphobia is actually a thing or not, but alliteration is only one reason to fear Diekman. He isn’t perfect, but he misses a ton of bats and also has what it takes to be an impact, late-inning reliever.
Mark Montgomery, New York Yankees
Fortunately, Montgomery has one of the most contact-defying pitches in the minor leagues. “That slider is vicious,” said one scout. “All kinds of two-plane break. Nasty.” The same scout noted, however, that Montgomery’s reliability on the pitch could get the 22-year-old in trouble at times. It has the makings of a 7 pitch, but there’s still room for refinement in the approach.
Stroman, Diekman, and Montgomery are all going to miss big-league bats. Their roles at the major-league level will have to be earned, but the present tools are good enough to shut down hitters, and each arm figures to get a long look in 2013.