CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

<< Previous Article
Arbitration Showdown: ... (02/04)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Sec... (02/04)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Cor... (02/06)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Fallout (02/05)

February 5, 2013

The Keeper Reaper

Relievers for 2/5/2013

by Dan Mennella

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Chris Perez | Indians

Shallow (30 Keepers): No
Medium (60 Keepers): No
Deep (90 Keepers): No
AL-only (60 Keepers): Fringe
Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes

Heading into 2012, I counted Chris Perez among the closers who were likely to lose their jobs before the end of the season. Although he logged 36 saves and a respectable 3.32 ERA in 2011, Perez’s peripherals—5.88 K/9, 3.92 BB/9, 28 percent ground-ball rate—were awful that year. And even conceding that he’s always had a knack for converting balls in play into outs (.248 career BABIP), Perez’s 4.30 FIP in 2011 pointed strongly toward an imminent regression.

Ironically, while Perez’s 3.59 ERA in 2012 represented a small step backward from the preceding campaign, his peripherals actually improved dramatically: 9.21 K/9, 2.50 BB/9, 40 percent ground-ball rate. And, most importantly, Perez never lost his job, becoming one of the handful of closers who went wire-to-wire as their respective team’s ninth-inning men last season.

To single out either season as a predictive tool for Perez in 2013 is probably a fool’s errand. While his 2012 rebound in strikeouts more closely resembles his career average (8.68 K/9), his gains in control warrant skepticism. It’s unwise to entirely dismiss the idea that a previously erratic pitcher with questionable makeup can refine his repertoire and improve his control—indeed, Perez seems to have relied more on his above-average slider last season—but I’d bet against the 27-year-old posting a similar walk rate in 2013.

Put all of that together, and I think Perez nets out as a league-average closer in 2013, especially if you account for his job security. The right-hander won’t wow you with eye-popping strikeout rates, but he should amass about one of them per inning, and since there’s mounting evidence that he has the ability to induce weak fly-ball contact, I don’t see a modest regression in walks killing him, either.

Vinnie Pestano | Indians (holds leagues)

Shallow (30 Keepers): No
Medium (60 Keepers): No
Deep (90 Keepers): Fringe
AL-only (60 Keepers): Fringe
Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes

The other preseason storyline in the Indians bullpen last spring was whether second-year ace setup man Vinnie Pestano would take the reins as the Tribe’s new stopper if—when, really—Perez faltered. The handcuff scenario wasn’t such a reach: while Perez’s wonky 2011 peripherals provided plenty of fodder for fantasy types and statheads, Pestano’s unforeseen emergence as a dominant high-leverage reliever and prized source of holds was equally intriguing.

Standard leaguers who drafted and stashed Pestano in hopes that he’d soon take over the ninth inning may have been disappointed, but holds leaguers were surely pleased. Pestano logged 36 holds, good for second best in the majors, and, for the second consecutive season, he was, statistically speaking, at least as good as the closer for whom he was setting up.

To be sure, though Pestano was once again an above-average reliever last season, he wasn’t quite as dominant as he was in 2011. Specifically, his strikeout rate dipped pretty substantially, from 12.19 K/9 in 2011 down to 9.77 in 2012, and while that may seem nitpicky, when we’re gauging keeper candidates, nothing escapes the microscope. While striking out more than one batter per inning is nothing to sneeze at, and Pestano’s ERA actually improved by a quarter of a run, all of the ERA estimators docked him substantially for the regression in whiffs. FIP, for example, pegged Pestano at 2.71 in 2011 but was less enthused (3.37) last year.

So, what caused the dip in strikeouts? Well, we can’t rule out static, since we’re talking about 60- and 70-inning samples, but it’s too simple to chalk it up to that and walk away. There’s also the splits issue— Pestano was flat-out filthy against righties (.168/.227/.261) and not quite as good against lefties (.237/.329/.423)— but that was also true in 2011. In fact, Pestano was actually better against lefties in 2012 than he was in 2011. Instead, the most sensible culprits I could find were Pestano’s virtual abandonment of his two-seam fastball—which he junked in favor of a two-pitch repertoire consisting of a four-seamer and a slider—and the loss of one mph off his four-seamer. Taking those factors into consideration together, we have a plausible explanation: hitters had one fewer effective pitch to worry about, and one of the remaining pitches was less effective.

All things considered, though, those concerns probably shouldn’t impact Pestano’s bottom line too much. While a double-digit strikeout rate is always ideal, most owners in holds leagues will gladly take a guy who can finish in the top 10 in holds, strike out a batter per inning, and keep his ratios in check. Pestano won’t be as coveted in standard leagues heading into this year as he was last spring, but he’ll still be a high-end option in leagues that count holds.

Related Content:  Chris Perez,  Vinnie Pestano,  Peripherals,  Repertoire

1 comment has been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Arbitration Showdown: ... (02/04)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Sec... (02/04)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Cor... (02/06)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Fallout (02/05)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article The HOF Rule Change
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pack: July 28, 2014
Fantasy Article The Stash List: 15th Edition
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Monday, July 2...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: July 29, 2014
Notes About Baseball: The Logistics of Human...
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Trading Ryan Howard For No...

MORE FROM FEBRUARY 5, 2013
Premium Article Arbitration Showdown: Mock Hearing: Jason Ha...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: An Expensive Lowrie
Baseball ProGUESTus: Many Days in the Life o...
Premium Article Skewed Left: The Best Ways to Bet at the Bal...
Punk Hits: Top Team Cookbooks, Part 2
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Tuesday, February 5
Fantasy Article Fantasy Fallout

MORE BY DAN MENNELLA
2013-02-05 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Relievers for 2/5/2013
2013-01-29 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Relievers for 1/29/30
2013-01-22 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Relievers for 1/22/13
2013-01-15 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Relievers for 1/15/13
More...

MORE THE KEEPER REAPER
2013-02-11 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Catcher, Second Base, and...
2013-02-07 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Starting Pitching for 2/7...
2013-02-06 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Corner Infielders for 2/6...
2013-02-05 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Relievers for 2/5/2013
2013-02-04 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Second, Short, and Catche...
2013-02-01 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Outfielders for Feb. 1, 2...
2013-01-31 - Fantasy Article The Keeper Reaper: Starting Pitching for 1/3...
More...