Should Brennan be our closer? His bendy stuff is unhittable, but hard to control and thus catch. Reminds me of Rodney. Thank goodness Narvaez was able to stop that one that keep Grossman on 3rd last night.
Heya Rick! :- ) Good call directing our attention to Brennan.
Taking this idea at face value ... (1) Have you ever heard of a pitcher who literally couldn't be caught? Knuckleballers sometimes. Don't recall anybody else. (2) Supposing you did have a knuckleballer, I wouldn't want him closing. The wild pitches would just be too gut-rending in the 9th. But it's like Kevin Mitchell famously said: If the catcher can catch it, I can hit it ... major leaguers can adapt.
But today's game moves further and further towards having 2 and 3 closers. If Brennan were a lockdown short man with a 1+ or 2+ ERA, then the 8th and even the 7th would be peachy. If the Yanks can have Chapman, Betances and Robertson ...
Right now Brennan is throwing a 50-47 split on his fastball and change. Two relievers in the game last year had 42% ratios on changeups; fewer than 10 ratios higher than 29%. A 47% ratio on your changeup is just crazy.
When you see a short man with that kind of percentage on a single offspeed pitch, you're just as well to assume it's a napalm pitch. And that's the case with Brennan, as we've all noticed: the changeup has the arm action, the -8 to -10 separation and most importantly the movement. ... well, maybe most importantly it's the "tunnelling" action -- right now Brennan is probably the M's best "tunneller."
In this Fangraphs article, "How the Mariners Rule 5 Pick is Like Max Scherzer," Devan Fink gets impressed by Brennan's changeup and runs through his database to find pitchers with similar changeups. He finds that the #1 comparable is Max Scherzer. Check the article. Brandon Brennan's changeup is a carbon copy of Max Scherzer's changeup.
It's important to note that Scherzer's changeup is his #2 pitch after the fastball. Fink adroitly points out that Scherzer is a brainy pitcher who has read the batters for years, and deduced that his change is a bread-and-butter weapon. And Brennan throws 95 MPH, so essentially in Brennan you've got Max Scherzer as a 2-pitch reliever? We're getting awfully close to SSI Best Bet territory here ...
Just for fun, here's a video of his Death Change and the Fangraphs article has a good one too.
WHERE'D HE COME FROM?
You always wonder, if this guy stacks up as Scherzer RP, why would teams be giving him up? It's the nature of the beast. Each year there are many Stephen Pryors and Brandon Maurers that teams are gambling on, or not. One year John McGraw invited Tris Speaker to camp and cut him ...
Another article on Brennan, from the M's site, sez
The Mariners took a chance on Brennan after their analytics department identified his reworked changeup as being a potential difference-maker, and he’s taken the opportunity and run with it, combining a mid-90s fastball with his quality offspeed offering as a versatile reliever capable of pitching multiple innings.
Don'cha love hearing this, that the saberdweebs found a pitch they thought was nuclear? :- ) That's how the M's got Brandon League - the M's sabe department shuffled through all of baseball's pitches and thought League's split was the best offspeed pitch in all of baseball. The M's went and got him on that basis. That's a lot of Brandons for one article, and a lot of talented short men ...
So that's a good reason to watch the M's this year. Maybe Elias (and his 54 games started in MLB) will develop into a Chris Devensky type handyman reliever, and maybe Brandon Brennan will develop into Max Scherzer RP. His change is that special. He hits 30, 40 innings with this 10+ strikeout rate, and nudges his BB rate down, he's gonna be a Best Bet.