Don Stanhouse with K's.
=== Mr. Magic Closer Dept. ===
I admire David Aardsma's grit. I admire his fastball, too. But let's do notice that the difference between him tonight, and Brandon Morrow the last two nights, is luck.
If HR/F* theory be at all legit -- and it mostly is -- then a shake of the dice was all that kept Jason Bay's final drive on Friday in the park, and in a manner of speaking all that cost Brandon Morrow the game before. (A fraction of an inch on the ball, either way, is more a question of luck than we tend to realize.)
Aardsma's RESULTS have been wonderful. I'm not throwing this 1.50 ERA fish back in the water.
But Aardsma as a pitcher hasn't been different at all:
9.7 - Aardsma's strikeout rate this season
8.8 - Aardsma's strikeout rate, career
9.1 - Aardsma's strikeout rate, 2008
10.0 - Aardsma's strikeout rate, 2007
5.9 - Aardsma's walk rate this season
5.6 - Aardsma's walk rate, career
6.5 - Aardsma's walk rate, 2008
4.7 - Aardsma's walk rate, 2007
Aardsma's HR rate has been low in his first 17 innings this season, but as Jason Bay saw on Friday, that's just luck.
Visually and statistically, Aardsma has been pitching in wonderful luck -- a .194 BABIP (.317 being his career norm), a 91% strand rate (73% being his norm), and a 4.5% HR rate (10% being his norm).
In March, D-O-V opined that Aardsma has one of the worst motions it has ever seen, in terms of leverage. Aardsma has to put a violent explosion into every pitch in order to muscle it up to 94-96 mph -- and I don't see how that's EVER going to allow for any command in the zone.
To me it isn't a question of backing this truck up a few feet and trying to ease it through the alley a bit more to the left. This is a dead-end blind alley, and 9 k's, 6 walks, scads of baserunners, are all you're ever going to see here. That's just me.
Right now Aardsma's K's are 18, his walks 11, his K/BB at "way off closer material," and my blood pressure at 150/95. It's been great so far, but the chariot turns into a pumpkin any day now. We don't doom pitchers. We just report the news. ;- )
Thanks for saving our lives, but I'd be organizing my plans before the clock strikes twelve, not after. Mark Lowe is a pitcher with a future. Wok has already indicated him as the next in line. Better make it quick...
:- ) I suppose this sounds unduly harsh. Aardsma is a competitor and he's saved our bacon early on. But if I'm the M's, I'm scuffling madly to prepare the contingency.
Throwing a bone to the optimist in all of us: it's nothing unusual for a Wild Thang to luck along all year into 35 saves. Happens all the time. Sometimes they score nice contracts on the strength of a year in the hot seat. The Shandlerian rotodweebs steer far clear the next spring. But is it POSSIBLE for Aardsma to save 30 white-knuckle games for the M's? :shrug: more possible than it would be for Corky or Batista, IMHO.
The SB race isn't always to the swift, nor the battle to the pitchers with ML mechanics, but that's how the smart money bets ...
Good stuff DaddyO :- )
Which is a little scary, because Earl Weaver let Stanhouse close for a year or two, right? Wasn't he the guy Earl called "Full-Pack"?!
Slap me silly, now that I look at it, Stanhouse CLOSED for two years with MORE WALKS THAN STRIKEOUTS!
I wonder what Earl would say about Tippy Martinez not closing for the 1979 team that won 102. http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BAL/1979.shtml
Probably that shutting down rallies was more important than pitching the 9th?!
Yup. "Full Pack" indeed. What's amazing is that by hook or crook, he got the job done. Of course he did so after giving Weaver a heart attack and causing him to smoke a complete pack of cigarettes in one inning, worrying about his lead unravelling, Stanhouse would manage to pull a Houdini act over and over again. When he absolutely needed to, and not before, he could get an out.
I'll let others opine that this was not a repeatable skill over time. For a couple of years Earl Weaver, one of the sharpest baseball minds ever, handed the keys to the car over to Stanhouse when it was crunch time.
I became more familiar with him in 1980, when after two successful years in Baltimore the Dodgers took a flier on him. In LA, he no longer had the magic, and his WHIP ballooned to 1.8.
We let Aardsma be the closer with his effectively wild stuff for half a year, pile up a bunch of meaningless saves (for a club that most likely will not be in contention), and then flip him for a Putzian package of prospects at the trade deadline :)
Seriously that trade is looking better and better (Sean green sucking on the gas pipe, plus JJ refusing to throw the splitty, coupled with F-Gutz maturing slowly, and Carp looking mighty fine in tacoma), I wouldn't mind doing that a few more times over. Once Aardsma is out of the way we just continue the closer carosel (Cordero, Lowe, Morrow, Fields, Aumont), until be have completely remade the farm system on closers alone :)