A close look at four relievers who benefit from funky mechanics.
Starting pitchers tend to receive most of the attention devoted to pitchers, both in Raising Aces and within the general community of baseball evaluators. Yet some of the most intriguing pitchers in the major leagues hail from the bullpen. Starters tend to adhere to a prototypical build designed for stamina, but relief pitchers come in all shapes and sizes, often earning their roles as a direct result of the perception that they cannot withstand the rigors of a 200-inning season or a seven-inning appearance.
There are a multitude of reasons why a pitcher might be assigned to relief work, including body type, pitch selection, and/or mechanical trends. When it comes to mechanics, a pitcher with a funky delivery can be sent to the pen just as quickly as one whose motion is perceived as dangerous. These attributes can be intertwined, as the same elements that make a delivery look goofy can also present the risk of injury. Other times, a pitcher's mechanical approach is geared toward deception, creating strategic angles that are designed to exploitplatoon splits or to exaggerate downhill plane.
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Scouts' takes on Travis d'Arnaud, Chris Johnson, Mariano Rivera, Ian Kennedy, and other interesting players.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff and include quotes about minor leaguers and major leaguers alike.
Well that was quick. Barely a week after he was given the closer’s role in Anaheim, Scott Downs appears to be DL-bound after injuring his leg Sunday while avoiding a comebacker, leaving fantasy players scrambling to find his replacement. Who that replacement will be, however, is currently up in the air. Of course, that won’t stop us from speculating. Today, I’ll try my hand at handicapping the situation.
The Yahoo! Friends & Family experts league is always an interesting barometer for this sort of thing. It’s a daily transaction league, and any time a ninth-inning changing of the guard may be taking place, owners race to the waiver wire to pick up anyone with a chance for saves. By yesterday evening, five Angel relievers had been picked up (if they weren’t already owned) in Yahoo! F&F: Downs, Jordan Walden, LaTroy Hawkins, Ernesto Frieri, and Jason Isringhausen. Let’s take a look at the chance each has of saving games for the foreseeable future.
What numbers do we look at when no number is large enough?
In 2011, the Angels began the season with Fernando Rodney as their closer. Oh, man, was Fernando Rodney bad at baseball a year ago. Rodney was the Angels’ closer, and he was also one of the worst relievers in baseball. He converted his first save, and he blew his second save, and he was replaced by Jordan Walden. Jordan Walden made the All-Star team. The Angels didn’t add a closer in the offseason. The Angels didn’t suggest any sort of closer controversy was brewing. The Angels didn't leave the issue of the ninth inning open-ended at all. Jordan Walden spent his winter chopping wood, shoveling snow, and quietly being the Angels’ closer. “What do you do?” people would ask him at parties. “Awwwww,” he would say, trying to be humble, because nobody likes a boaster, “I’m involved in recreation.” Pressed, he would acknowledge that he closed baseball games for the Angels. Women would casually touch his arm.
He saved his first game, and he blew his second game, and he was replaced by Scott Downs. Fernando Rodney is a closer, and Jordan Walden no longer is. That was very fast! One blown save. Four and a third total innings, and nine baserunners. If his season were a start, it would be Clayton Kershaw’s April 15 start. Very, very fast.