Yesterday in How to Evaluate Relievers, I gave my general theory with relievers – that is to target skills over role. While some spend their resources on draft day for Kevin Gregg and Brandon Lyon types, I’ve always been content to target power arms like Madson, Thornton and Hanrahan. Below, I’ll give my thoughts on some of the relievers I’m targeting this season – hopefully you won’t take them from me if we are in a league together.
Joel Hanrahan: This call is sort of cheating. Everyone knows who Hanrahan is, and there is at least a 50/50 chance that he will close at the start of the season for the Pirates over Evan Meek, but I love Joel’s arm (current ADP numbers from Mock Draft Central have Hanrahan at 337 and Meek at 383). Hanrahan certainly has better skills than guys being drafted ahead of him like Fernando Rodney (260), Brian Fuentes (271), Kevin Gregg (286) and Ryan Franklin (288), but people are worried about his role. Check out what Hanrahan did last year: 12.92 K/9 and 3.85 K/BB including a 13.50 K/9 and a 4.00 K/BB ratio over his last 33 appearances. I’m targeting this power righty.
Bobby Jenks: I wrote about Jenks when he signed his 2-year deal with the Red Sox in Hot Stove: Signings Galore. Most will overlook him on draft day because of the fact that he is behind Jonathan Papelbon, and potentially Daniel Bard, but Jenks was actually pretty darn good last season (check out the link for an explanation of that statement). In addition to the solid skills, I think that Jenks would be the fall back option in the 9th if Papelbon is hurt or dealt to another club, so that’s another feather in his cap.
Brandon League: In A Hip That Makes You Hop?, I broke down the Mariners’ bullpen situation and gave a litany of thoughts as to why I’m all about taking League late in drafts (397) instead of Aardsma much earlier (280). One more little diddy on League. Since he started his career in 2004 he owns a career GB/FB rate of 3.09. Amongst hurlers who have tossed at least 280-innings since then, League’s GB/FB mark is third in baseball behind Cla Meredith (3.66) and Brandon Webb (3.51).
Ryan Madson: I’m telling you, this guy is a burgeoning bullpen star. OK, he blows chunks half the time he is given a shot at pitching the 9th inning, but just look at the consistency he has brought in ERA and WHIP the last four years.
ERA: 3.05, 3.05, 3.26, 2.55
WHIP: 1.27, 1.23, 1.23, 1.04
Madson has also seen his K/9 mark rise in each of the past four seasons: 6.63, 6.91, 7.29, 9.08 and 10.87. Not surprisingly, he has seen his K/BB ratio improve each of he past three years: 1.87, 2.91, 3.55 and 4.92. Last time I checked, a K/9 of nearly 11.00 and a K/BB mark of nearly 5.00 are historically good numbers (only 12 hurlers have hit both of those numbers in the same season since the calendar flipped to 2000). Don’t be afraid to nab Madson late in drafts.
Edward Mujica: Another one of those wondrous arms from San Diego, Mujica was sent to the Marlins in the deal for Cameron Maybin (you can read about that deal in Four in One). Mujica was simply dynamic last season with a 9.30 K/9 rate and a 0.78 BB/9 rate which led to a stupendous 12.00 K/BB mark. Mujica was just the fourth pitcher in the history of baseball to have a season with a 12.00 K/BB mark while throwing at last 65 innings (Bert Dorr in 1882, Dennis Eckersley in 1990 and Mariano Rivera in 2008).
Chad Qualls: I’ve already explained why Qualls is a terrific bounce back option in Hot Stove: Rumor Mill, Dec. 29th. I look for him to rebound strongly in San Diego after signing a 1-year, $1.5 million deal.
Matt Thornton: I’m on record saying he has been the best left-handed reliever in baseball the past three years. I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.
2008-10: 16-10, 2.67 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 11.01 K/9, 4.15 K/BB, 6.60 H/9 in 200.1 IP
By Ray Flowers