Thursday, July 14, 2011

Warming In The 'Pen: The NL Edition: July 14th, 2011

Greetings once again, folks!

It figures that when I'm getting ready to work on the NL side of the house for this article series, something big comes up. I suppose that's to be expected around this time of the season, and we should expect more news in the next several days to come. Needless to say, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the move made this morning involving the New York Mets and the Milwaukee Brewers before getting into the normal heart of the article today.

The Mets dealt Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers today for 2 gentlemen by the name of "Player To Be Named Later", a common commodity. I'll be honest and say I'm not sure what either team's looking to get out of this deal.

The Mets are giving up a star-power closer for prospects when they're not completely removed from the hunt. A good stretch run could find them in the thick of the Wildcard race. However, if the Mets suddenly find themselves running as a closer-by-committee, it could be a rough road to haul. A couple of candidates to fill the role would be the grizzled-but-tough right-handed veteran presence of Jason Isringhausen (whom at the tender age of 38 is seven saves shy of the vaunted 300 mark), and the young and spry Bobby Parnell (who has really grown into the short-relief role with the Mets the last two years). This could also clear the road for another call-up of Dale Thayer, who's had a decent season closing in Triple-A Buffalo. Time will tell how the Mets front office handles this move, though reports are that this is by no means a "waving the white flag" maneuver.

Fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on the Izzy/Parnell situation. I would be leaning more towards Izzy in the short-term, due to his star power, experience for a possible playoff push, and the simple fact of getting save #300 on the team he broke into the show with. That's something baseball fans in general would want to see in this day and age.

The Brewers, in the meantime, are picking up another closer when they have John Axford, who is having a sensational year. Rodriguez hasn't pitched in a setup role since the team he was with was called the Anaheim Angels, but the Milwaukee bullpen could benefit from another strong arm. LaTroy Hawkins has been one of the only solid late-inning options for the Brew-Crew as of late, but is still coming off of rotator cuff surgery late last season. The Brewers will be careful with Hawkins for the rest of the season, and especially now that another proven arm has joined the 'pen.

The big news for fantasy owners here is that there may be split closes for Axford and K-Rod from here on out. As close as the NL Central race is, though, don't be surprised to see Milwaukee "dance with who brought them there" and keep Axford as the primary Saves choice. That would leave K-Rod and LaTroy to platoon the set-up role, and thusly split and share any Hold chances in deep leagues.

Now, back to regularly-scheduled programming.
  • This week's NL pick for "Doing Work" is Washington's Drew Storen. Drew's last 5 games have been uneventful: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 K, 4 Sv. Those numbers, along with a solid season overall (5-2, 2.53 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 20/23 Sv, 3 Hld), I'm willing to say that this kid (23 years old) is just starting on an upswing. The kid's a ground-ball pitcher (1.50 GO/AO) with a more-than-servicable OPS (.560) and BABIP (.218). Some are questioning his FIP of over 3.50, but I feel that with his youth, that'll improve by bounds. He is a solid pick-up in more or less any style league, and should be good for several statistical categories for the rest of the season.
  • The "Unsung Heroes" in the Senior Circuit this week (and yes, that's plural) are the Reds' Logan Ondrusek and Nick Masset. The pair have combined for 5 holds over 8.2 IP, allowing 1 ER, 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 6 along the way. This tandem has assisted the Reds to hold close (pun only semi-intended) in the NL Central race, being only 4 games out with a whole half to go. Ondrusek and Masset have amassed 21 holds on the season, keeping low OPS (.595 and .630) and BABIP (.226 and .283). They both give up more ground balls than fly balls, but are slightly prone to the home run ball (7 HR in 89 IP). Despite this, I feel that these two are a good pick-up. If you have to choose between the two though, I would have to choose Ondrusek on his youth and potential in the long-run.
  • The "Heart Attack Award" in this piece also go to a pair: Cincinnati's Francisco Cordero and the Cubs' Carlos Marmol. As good as Ondrusek and Masset have been for the Reds, Cordero has been just as... flaky. While Cordero has posted a season line worthy of some of his better campaigns in his careers (3-3, 2.95 ERA, 17/22 Sv), his last 5 games have been nothing short of horrific. In 4.1 innings, he's given up 7 runs on 9 hits (including a homer), 4 walks, and only getting 1 K. He saved one game, but blew 3. Marmol has similar season numbers (2-2, 2.57 ERA, 19/25 Sv), and while his last 5 games weren't as bad as Cordero's, his line was no walk in the park: 3.2 IP, 2 ER on 2 H (including a longball), 2 BB, 2 K. Both of them are going through rough patches right now, but Cordero's seems a little more serious. His issues with being hit seem to be more sustained as of late, and at 13 seasons in the Big Leagues, his arm may be showing signs of trailing off. With a decent duo in the bullpen (as mentioned above), and Aroldis Chapman lurking in the shadows, any further signs of this slump continuing could pull Cordero out of the closer role on a more permanent basis.
  • Lastly, the "ZOMBIE!" of the National League this week is Milwaukee hurler Zach Braddock. Zack is likely to be the loser in the K-Rod deal, and for good reason. His last 5 games: 4 IP, 6 ER on 5 H (including a longball), 2 BB, 2 K. The results were a hold and a blown save. His season is along the same lines (0-1, 5.19 ERA, 0/1 Sv), and some of the advanced stats don't sit in his favor: a GO/AO of 0.48, along with a Slg of .369 and OPS of .690 tell me that he's getting hit, and getting hit hard. 43% of the hits he's given up have been of the extra bases variety, and batters are finding a way to make contact off him (63% of the strikes he threw were either fouled off or put in-play). I don't feel Mister Braddock is long for the Brewers rotation, especially now with K-Rod in the mix. Maybe a stint in the Minors will give him something; be it a better mix of his pitches, an added weapon to the arsenal. Even a chance to get that dominant vibe off Triple-A hitting, and bring it back up to the Brewers in September could be the key to making this pitcher a force in the future. For now, however, I can't see him being even remotely usable in anything but a league needing ridiculous depth on the bench.
So that's my take on the NL this week. I know I promised more concise, but no one can anticipate the tides of change in the world of baseball. Things may calm down after the Trading Deadline passes.

At least until September call-ups.

See y'all next Tuesday!

Comments, complaints, or any other words? Hit me up with a comment in the box below, or find me on Twitter at @JCPronkFan48.


  1. What do you think about Pedro Beato? It would be quite the story...Rule 5 draft pick to closer? I agree Izzy and Parnell will get the first crack at saves, but no one in that pen has been as consistent as one would hope. Just thought I'd stir the pot a little bit...

  2. Stir away, Brad! :)

    Pedro would indeed be one of those "feel-good" stories, and he seems to have a good make-up. Taking things beyond the normal stats, his OPS (.583) and BABIP (.226) are well-below league average, and his GO/AO (1.94) is impressive.

    His FIP his even with his ERA in his rookie campaign (both 3.38), with the xFIP trending higher (3.81). That FIP is lower than any of his minor league seasons, which to me shows ample adjustment to the Big League style of play to warrant consideration. Plus he closed games with the Orioles' Double-A squad last year, so he knows the role. I still see him as a third-choice behind Izzy and Parnell, but likely to vulture a half-dozen saves if Parnell's ineffective and Izzy's been used a bunch. Pedro's probably the only reason I'd backpedal on bringing up Thayer overly quick.