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December 29, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Octavio Dotel, Blue Jay

by Marc Normandin

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Octavio Dotel bounced around last season, as he began the year with the Pirates, was dealt to the Dodgers in July, and finally was shipped to the Rockies in August as they tried to make a late playoff run. This year we likely won't see a repeat of that situation, as he has picked up a bit more job security than any veteran in Pittsburgh can by signing with a playoff hopeful team in Toronto. That means there is a good chance that Dotel will remain a closer for the length of the season, putting him on a list that always seem to be shorter than we need it to be on draft day.

Dotel no longer strikes out 12 batters per nine innings, so his K/BB ratio has not been over three for the past two seasons, but he has still struck out 10.8 and 10.6 per nine, which are great rates for fantasy. The problem with Dotel is that his WHIP will most likely be lofty thanks to his walk rates—his career BB/9 is 4.5, and while he occasionally has flashes of control, they are unpredictable. Since he's a closer his WHIP won't impact your overall numbers like a starting pitcher would, and the positives his strikeouts and save totals will bring should help cancel that out to a degree.

There is one major concern with Toronto involved though, and that is home runs. Dotel has been known to struggle with the long ball on occasion, with a career HR/9 of 1.2 and 1.3 homers per nine allowed last season. The Rogers Centre is one of the more homer-centric parks in the land, for both right- and left-handed batters. Considering he has allowed a line of .272/.393/.531 to lefties over the last three seasons (with 11 homers in 239 at-bats) and he is now pitching in a very lefty heavy division, things may get ugly like they did in 2008, except this time his stellar punch out totals and acceptable free pass rates won't be there to buoy his overall numbers.

Because of that, the fact he may have a closer job all season might not be a good thing for your team. It just gives him more opportunities to implode—the high WHIP and higher-than-elite ERA are tolerable if he's racking up saves, but if he's blowing opportunities against the Red Sox and Yankees because he has to face four lefties in an inning, then he won't be able to do the one thing you drafted him for well. Dotel can help you with saves if you missed out on more reliable options, but don't confuse him with a great closer just because he is on a team that should be in contention. Though, let's remember that even terrible pitchers can get saves. It's a matter of whether the number he gets is worth the other headaches.

11 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Richie

Ummm, why should the Blue Jays be in contention? I don't see it at all.

I'll cheerfully wager on Dotel losing the job, either due to age- or homer-induced ineffectiveness, or to being traded when the Jays fall out of contention.

Dec 29, 2010 11:23 AM
rating: 0
 
Marc Normandin

I don't think they are the favorites for the division or anything, but I can see them making noise in the AL East next year, enough where they would stick with players like Dotel instead of dealing them off. He has an option for 2012 on the deal as well.

Dec 29, 2010 11:27 AM
rating: 0
 
RallyKiller

Why should the Blue Jays be in contention? It's still early, but at this stage it's because the Yankees simply don't have enough starting pitching to do any more than compete with the Jays and others for the AL wildcard.

Dec 29, 2010 12:18 PM
rating: -1
 
jlefty

The Yanks got by last year with 344 replacement level innings from Burnett and Vazquez, and just 129 innings of Pettitte. If Burnett regresses back to the mean, all they need to do is replace Pettitte and Vazquez's 286.1 IP with below average, above replacement level innings (which doesn't seem like too tall of a task) they'll be markedly better than last year.

The Jays allowed more runs last year than the Yanks in a less hitter friendly home park, and have lost 195.1 innings of 3.8 WAR performance from Marcum. But the Yankees simply don't have enough starting pitching.

Dec 30, 2010 06:48 AM
rating: 1
 
Richie

The 'Plexiglass Principle' suggests the Blue Jays will go back down, not way up. They traded a starting pitcher for a rookie who's not a Heyward-type immediate prospect. Wells and Batista were IMMENSELY! over their heads last year.

And why would you even use the phrase "at this stage" regarding the Yankees? Between now and August 1st they're the one team guaranteed to be firing alot more $$$$ at each and every problem they have or that injuries bring up.

With Showalter now mending the Orioles, the Jays are far more likely to finish last than 2nd in that division.

Dec 29, 2010 13:53 PM
rating: -1
 
Mr. Cthulhu

Wells and Batista did play over their heads, but if you expect them to fall down should you not also expect Hill and Lind to step up their game? Also, the Jays have a number of young pitchers to take over for Marcum and Morrow is a breakout candidate which will make up part of the difference. I am not saying the Jays will make the playoffs (in fact I think the best they can hope for would be a 3rd place finish in the East, if New York or Tampa get hit with some injuries). But thinking they cannot compete seems to be based more on the bias of what people think the Jays are and not actual facts.

Dec 29, 2010 14:22 PM
rating: 3
 
greenfrog

The Jays have a terrible team OBP. This is the main reason why they won't contend for a playoff spot. They have some decent hitters, but on the whole it's a lineup of hackers (Hill, Encarnacion, Wells, Arencibia, to some extent Lind).

Dotel could be effective if used judiciously with an eye to matchups. Rzep and Purcey could be used against some LHB to limit his exposure. Having Dotel come in to face Crawford, Gonzalez and Ortiz, or Teixeira, Cano and Posada, simply because he's a "proven closer" with a big arm, would seem to be courting disaster.

Dec 29, 2010 17:01 PM
rating: 0
 
Richie

Hill's and Lind's years were not particularly bad, excepting for their (fluke?) 2009 seasons. So no, I don't expect that much improvement from those 2. Certainly less than I would expect Wells and Batista to backtrack.

I agree that the best one can reasonably hope for from the Jays is that they finish 3rd if either the Yanks or Rays really go down. Which is not the 'post-season contention' level the article posits. Which would keep an effective Dotel closing for the Jays.

Dec 29, 2010 17:28 PM
rating: 0
 
greenfrog

I don't think AA expects his team to contend in 2011. I would say 2012 is the earliest the team could be a serious contender, and more likely 2013 or 2014. At that point the rotation (Romero/Morrow/Cecil/Drabek/Stewart, maybe McGuire) should be both talented and experienced and there should be some good positional players at the MLB level (Snider, Lawrie, Arencibia/D'Arnaud/Perez, Hechavarria, Lind, Hill, Escobar, maybe Gose).

Dec 29, 2010 19:50 PM
rating: 0
 
sephrath

Why do we assume dotel is the closer?

Dec 30, 2010 20:50 PM
rating: 0
 
Marc Normandin

There was no assumption, the initial reports stated it was for the job of closer. It looks like that is a bit more up in the air now, as Jason Frasor and Dotel might fight for the job in the spring.

Dec 31, 2010 05:48 AM
rating: 0
 
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