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May 30, 2013

Bullpen Report

Movin' on Up

by Mike Gianella


Welcome to another installment of The Bullpen Report. As a reminder, closers are rated in five tiers from best to worst. The tiers are a combination of my opinion of a pitcher’s ability, the likelihood that he will pick up saves, and his security in the job. For example, a pitcher in the third tier might have better skills than a pitcher in the second tier, but if the third-tier pitcher is new to the job or has blown a couple of saves in the last week, this factors into the ranking as well.

Tier 1: Money in the Bank

Mujica and Wilhelmsen have both been strong enough that they move to the top tier this week. The complaint about Mujica has always been his propensity to allow the big dinger, but lost in this complaint is that his shift to heavy reliance on the splitter has led to a ground-ball rate of over 48 percent since 2011. He’s not immune to home runs, but he’s also unlikely to allow them in double-digits. Wilhelmsen’s whiff rate is down, but he’s getting hitters to pound the ball into the ground more than he has in the past. Like Mujica, he’s not immune to the long ball but should see fewer balls leave the yard with a fly-ball rate under 30 percent.

Tier 2: Solid and Reliable

A number of pitchers move up this week with only Romo moving down. Romo has been fine, but the opportunities haven’t been there and the top tier takes opportunities into consideration as much as it does skill, ability, and job security. Chapman and Soriano are the only two pitchers who move up based on performance. Both closers had been a little shaky and seem to have righted their ships. Their overall numbers are strong enough that a move to the top tier isn’t out of the question. Valverde, Parnell, and Bell all get bumped up because they’re getting the job done. You might hold your nose if you have Valverde or Bell, but successful conversions and job security are far more important than anything else when you’re looking for closers. Saves are saves. Valverde and Bell are uninspiring options, but they’re cashing in their chances and beginning to look ensconced.

Tier 3: Yeah…You’re…Good

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Call-Up: Alex Wood (05/30)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: Introd... (05/23)
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Fantasy Article Bullpen Report: A Test... (06/06)
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Premium Article Dissecting the Draft: ... (05/30)

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