Preseason Position Power Rankings: Couch Side’s top five setup men for 2013
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com senior blogger
Relievers can be difficult to project because performance can sway so drastically from season to season. The limited number of innings, and the various situations the pitchers are used can lead to occasional spikes or dips in results. Sometimes you don’t know if your established 8th inning guy will have to take over closer duties, which can also affect his numbers depending on the situations he’s used in. I’m not of the mind that a minute number of relievers can close; most guys can do it if they have a big fastball that can be consistently thrown for strikes. However, given how much of a financial incentive it is to be a big time closer, teams will overvalue based on saves, when they should really be looking at how effective the pitcher was overall. I digress, so here are my top 5 setup men aka potential closers that currently aren’t.
5. David Hernandez, Arizona Diamondbacks (68 IP, 98 Ks, 22 BBs, 2.50 ERA)
Former Team Mexico/USA pitcher is underrated, he improved his strikeout rate and lowered his walk rate in 2012, and figures to be used by Kirk Gibson to trade off the 7th or 8th with the inferior Heath Bell.
4. Drew Storen, Washington Nationals (30 IP, 24 Ks, 8 BBs, 2.37 ERA)
Let’s throw out that blowup inning against the Cardinals in NLDS game 5 last year, Storen is going to be getting key outs against the Braves lineup for a team that many will predict to win the World Series this year.
3. Johnny Venters, Atlanta Braves (58 IP, 69 Ks, 28 BBs, 3.22 ERA)
Atlanta Manager Fredi Gonzalez overworked Venters in his first two seasons, pitching 83 and 88 innings before going down to a reasonable 58 last season. His overall numbers decreased slightly, but Venters is going to be utilized accordingly along with the next pitcher on this list.
2. Eric O’Flaherty, Atlanta Braves (57 IP, 46 Ks, 19 BBs, 1.73 ERA)
The peripherals don’t support that 1.73 ERA. Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) suggests he pitched to a 3.27 ERA instead. He’s outperformed those numbers in each of his first three seasons with Atlanta, so what some may consider a fluke may be closer to his true performance, and he’s pitching with an excellent defensive team behind him.
1. David Robertson, New York Yankees (60 IP, 81 Ks, 19 BBs, 2.67 ERA)
Robertson has never posted a K/9 under 10 in his five seasons to this point. He had a ridiculously low 1.08 ERA in 2011 while striking out 100 in 66 IP, last season he “regressed” to simply a 12 K/9, dare I say he’s going to be fine going forward. He’s not Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman yet, but he’ll have that opportunity to prove to those harsh New York fans that Mariano Rivera can be replaced in 2014.