Thursday, July 29, 2010

Trade deadline - How do the Twins relievers stack up for the postseason?

Breaking News: Matt Capps and 500,000 dollars has been traded to the Twins for Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa. Capps is 3-3 with a 2.74 ERA with 26 saves and 4 blown saves for the Washington Nationals. He has struck out 7.43/9 and walked 1.76/9. His FIP is 3.46 and his xFIP is 3.53. Capps is making 3.5 million and has one more year of team controlled arbitration remaining. Currently, Capps profiles as a Type B. If he is a Type B free agent at the end of 2011 and the Twins offer arbitration, they would receive as compensation a 1st round pick, if he leaves as a free agent. He is an upgrade over Jon Rauch and would make the bullpen stronger overall. I have no problem with the Twins making a trade for him. Having said this, Ramos was the Twins #1 trade chip. Trading a modestly better closer for Ramos isn't the wisest use of that chip.

Yesterday, I posted how the Twins starters stack up for the post-season. Today, I will focus on the relief pitching and if it needs tweaking before the trade deadline Saturday. Yesterday, I focused on 8 teams I feel have a shot for the playoffs. The Twins, Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, White Sox, Tigers, Rangers, and Angels. I will focus on over-all bullpen and closers. Notes on how the trade for Matt Capps affects the Twins as well.

Who has the best over-all bullpen?
#1 The Chicago White Sox:
The White Sox relievers have a 3.57 ERA, 3.54 FIP and 3.73 xFIP in 265 innings. They strike out 9.10/9 and walk 3.74/9. They have a nice 1.39 ground-ball to fly-ball ratio and a 8.9 HR to fly-ball ratio.

#2 The Tampa Bay Rays:
The Rays relievers have a 3.23 ERA, 3.48 FIP and 3.89 xFIP in 267.1 innings . They strike out 8.11/9 and walk 2.93/9. They have a decent 1.08 ground-ball to fly-ball ratio and a 7.7 HR to fly-ball ratio.

#3 The Twins:
The Twins relievers have a 3.12 ERA, 3.82 FIP and 4.42 xFIP in 282.1 innings. They strike out only 6.34/9 but walk only 2.61/9. The .98 ground-ball to fly-ball ratio is low, they have a 6.9 HR to fly-ball ratio. The loss of Brian Duensing, to the rotation, shouldn't hurt much, his FIP/xFIP are closer to the bull-pen's average numbers than the sparkling ERA. The depth will suffer a little, however. With the addition of Matt Capps, I moved the Twins pen in front of the Rangers.

#4 The Texas Rangers:
The Rangers relievers have a 3.27 ERA, 3.98 FIP and 4.21 xFIP in 310.2 innings. They strike out 7.68/9 and walk 3.65/9. They have a decent 1.12 ground-ball to fly-ball ratio and a 8.8 HR to fly-ball ratio. The higher number of innings could lead to breakdown of relievers.

#5 The New York Yankees:
The Yankees relievers have a 3.99 ERA, 4.04 FIP and 4.20 xFIP in 268.1 innings. They strike out 7.55/9 and walk 3.42/9. They have a decent 1.19 ground-ball to fly-ball ratio and a 9.4 HR to fly-ball ratio. If the Yankees follow through with dropping Joba Chamberlain from his 8th inning role, over-rating his 5.86 ERA over his 3.02 FIP & 3.48 xFIP, the overall bullpen will suffer.

#6 The California Angels:
The Angels relievers have a 4.64 ERA, 4.31 FIP and 4.52 xFIP in 275.2 innings. They strike out 8.13/9 and walk a very high 4.93/9. They have a really good 1.30 ground-ball to fly-ball ratio and a 8.9 HR to fly-ball ratio.

#7 The Detroit Tigers:
The Tigers relievers have a 3.51 ERA, 4.01 FIP and 4.63 xFIP in 302.2 innings. They strike out 6.3/9 and walk 3.75/9. They have a good 1.26 ground-ball to fly-ball ratio and a good 6.2 HR to fly-ball ratio. Losing  Joel Zumaya's 2.58 ERA, 2.54FIP and xFIP 4.02 in 38.1 innings hurts the bullpen a lot.

#8 The Boston Red Sox:
The Red Sox relievers have a 4.42 ERA, 4.78 FIP and 4.66 xFIP in 287.1 innings. They strike out 7.11/9 and walk 3.82/9. They have a low .88 ground-ball to fly-ball ratio and a high 11.2 HR to fly-ball ratio. The Red sox bullpen numbers are bad all the way around, but they include the released Scott Schoeneweis and his 13.2 innings of 7.90 ERA, 5.31 FIP and 4.90 xFIP.

Who has the best closer?
#1 Mariano Rivera - New York Yankees. Mariano is 3-1 with a .96 ERA with 21 saves and 2 blown saves. He strikes out 8.36 batters per 9 innings and walks 1.43 per 9. His 2.24 FIP and 3.09 xFIP is not as good as his ERA, but he's having a great year. Mariano deserves to be #1 on this list no matter what he has done in 2010. He is the greatest playoff closer of all-time and there is no one I'd rather have closing an important game.

#2 Jose Valverde - Detroit Tigers. Valverde is 1-2 with a 1.81 ERA with 21 saves and 1 blown save. He strikes out 9.27/9 and walks 3.63/9. His FIP 3.27 and 3.28 xFIP is much higher than his ERA, probably due to his .200 BABIP.

#3 Bobby Jenks - Chicago White Sox. Jenks is 1-3 with a 4.82 ERA with 21 saves and 2 blown saves. He strikes out 11.33/9 and walks 3.86/9. His FIP is 2.58 and xFIP is 2.61 suggesting he's had a much better year than it looks. A .401 BABIP has really killed his ERA. Having said all of that, as a Twins fan, he still doesn't scare me that much.

#4 Neftali Feliz - Texas Rangers. Feliz  is 2-2 with a 3.65 ERA with 28 saves and 2 blown saves. He strikes out 9.74/9 and walks 2.64/9. His 3.27 FIP and 3.64 xFIP are pretty close to his ERA.

#5 Matt Capps - Minnesota Twins. Capps is 3-3 with a 2.74 ERA with 26 saves and 4 blown saves for the Washington Nationals. He has struck out 7.43/9 and walked 1.76/9. His FIP is 3.46 and his xFIP is 3.53. 

#6 Rafael Soriano - Tampa Bay Rays. Soriano is 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA with 28 saves and 2 blown saves. He strikes out 7.71/9 and walks 2.04/9. His FIP is 2.81 and xFIP is 4.15. His strikeout rate is 4.5 and inning less than in 2009 with Atlanta and a .236 BABIP suggest he's been a little lucky as well.

#7 Jon Rauch - Minnesota Twins. Rauch is 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA with 21 saves and 4 blown saves. He strikes out only 6.34/9 and walks 2.11/9. His FIP 3.43 and xFIP 4.47.

#8 Brian Fuentes - California Angels. Fuentes is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA with 18 saves and 4 blown saves. He strikes out 10.09/9 and walks 3.86/9. His FIP is 4.40 and xFIP is 4.15.

#9 Jonathan Papelbon - Boston Red Sox. Papelbon is 3-4 with a 2.91 ERA with 24 saves and 4 blown saves. He strikes out 7.68/9 and walks 3.12/9. His FIP is 4.31 and xFIP 4.37. Papelbon hasn't been nearly as good as in past years. His strikeouts are down 2.5 per game and his FIP/xFIP are higher than 2009 and about 2 runs higher than in past seasons. Daniel Bard with his 9.37 K/9 and 3.13 FIP/3.38 xFIP might be a better choice as closer at this point.

What does this mean coming up to the trade deadline? For one, I give long odds to Detroit, Boston, or Anaheim making the playoffs. For another, the Twins could definitely use some relief help. If they trade for a Shawn Marcum, Brett Myers, or Tom Gorzelanny, it will improve the starting rotation and lessen the impact of their bullpen or at least return Duensing to his late inning lefty role. The Twins have been rumored to be interested in Scott Downs 2.99 FIP/ 3.41 xFIP or Jason Frasor 3.37 FIP/ 3.93 xFIP and 9.46 K/9 from Toronto. Both would improve the bullpen and Frasor could be used as a closer. If the Twins don't trade for a starter, they should look to add superior depth at the back end of the bullpen. Since the Twins traded for Matt Capps, I'd assume they are done pen wise. This improves both their pen and their closer spot, so the trade is a net positive in 2010.

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