Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Monday, September 10, 2012

Connolly: Orioles’ Jim Johnson, Rays’ Fernando Rodney show importance of closers

The Importance of Being Ernie Broglio (and his 2 stinky saves).

When the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays begin a three-game series Tuesday at Camden Yards, the two most effective relievers in the American League will be in uniform.

It’s fair to speculate that without Orioles closer Jim Johnson and Rays closer Fernando Rodney, their teams probably wouldn’t be in playoff contention.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has said all season that Johnson’s steadying presence in the back of the bullpen and in the clubhouse has been one of, if not the most important element, in the club’s surprising success.

And how essential has Rodney been to a Rays team that has continually had to overcome injury to be one game behind the Orioles in the AL Wild Card race?

“Kind of like oxygen,” quipped Rays manager Joe Maddon.

...Johnson said if he had a vote, he would potentially give it to Rodney, the guy anchoring the opposing bullpen this week. Especially considering Rodney, who has a 0.69 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings pitched, was supposed to be a set-up man but was thrust into the main role when Kyle Farnsworth was sidelined due to injury.

“Yeah, just the numbers he has had this year and what he has done for that club is just unbelievable,” Johnson said.

But here’s the big question: Would Johnson vote for himself for Cy Young over Rodney and all those excellent starters.

“No,” snapped the no-nonsense Johnson. “Because I wouldn’t. What do you want me to say?”

Repoz Posted: September 10, 2012 at 06:52 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: orioles, rays

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Into the Void Posted: September 10, 2012 at 07:09 PM (#4232035)
The Giants beg to differ.
   2. JJ1986 Posted: September 10, 2012 at 07:15 PM (#4232038)
I would think they (one a good setup man; one six years removed from a good season) show that one doesn't have to be "a proven closer" to close.
   3. DA Baracus Posted: September 10, 2012 at 07:17 PM (#4232040)
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has said all season that Johnson’s steadying presence in the back of the bullpen and in the clubhouse has been one of, if not the most important element, in the club’s surprising success.


Connolly's almost got it right but he doesn't realize it. Johnson holding down the closer role has allowed better pitchers to be used in higher leverage situations.
   4. JJ1986 Posted: September 10, 2012 at 07:20 PM (#4232043)
Johnson holding down the closer role has allowed better pitchers to be used in higher leverage situations.


O'Day's been better, but it looks like Johnson's the second best reliever on the team.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: September 10, 2012 at 08:07 PM (#4232072)
The following statements are not the same:

a) Leverage plays too little role in how relievers are used.
b) Closers are not used in high leverage situations.

While it's true that managers will often keep their best reliever (closer or set-up man) in the pen in high leverage situations, the very definition of leverage means that 9th inning situations tend to be those with highest leverage.

If you look at gmLI on the O's team page -- leverage of the situation when entering -- Johnson is well ahead at 1.8 (pretty standard for a closer I think), followed by Strop at 1.5 and a couple of guys at 1.2. On average, Johnson is used in the higher leverage situations ... because those situations often exist in the 9th inning.

Actually Chris Davis leads with a leverage of 2.3 :-)

Anyway, as long as relievers are going to be mainly used for just 1 inning, then you generally will want to save your best reliever for the 9th inning -- at least if you believe in leverage. The "trick" is recognizing when a high-leverage situation exists outside of a 9th-inning save situation and then deciding whether it's time to roll the dice with your best reliever, making him unavailable for a subsequent save situation. Pretty much every manager of the last 30 years has taken the easy way out on that decision.

Especially considering Rodney, who has a 0.69 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings pitched, was supposed to be a set-up man but was thrust into the main role when Kyle Farnsworth was sidelined due to injury.

Yes, the intense pressure of replacing the great Kyle Farnsworth.
   6. Jim Wisinski Posted: September 10, 2012 at 08:26 PM (#4232079)
Fernando Rodney shows the importance of having a reliever with an ERA under .7
   7. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 10, 2012 at 08:35 PM (#4232086)
Has anyone scientifically charted antics versus performance? Whenever the Yankees see Rodney, I just want them to beat him in order to shut him up. Do teams feel this way, and is it an impediment to actually beating him?
   8. DA Baracus Posted: September 10, 2012 at 08:42 PM (#4232089)
O'Day's been better, but it looks like Johnson's the second best reliever on the team.


Looks to me like Ayala and Strop have been just as good. Regardless, Connolly almost stumbled into that realization that no one particular reliever on the Orioles is clearly above the rest and that the closer role is overrated. It was right there in front of him and he missed it.
   9. Squash Posted: September 10, 2012 at 08:46 PM (#4232090)
I would think they (one a good setup man; one six years removed from a good season) show that one doesn't have to be "a proven closer" to close.

I was going to say the same thing. If this year, which has featured more closer turmoil than any before, proved anything it's that it's good to have as many good relievers as possible, and that the order they pitch in in games where you're ahead by just a few runs in the 7th-8th-9th innings will work itself out.
   10. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 10, 2012 at 08:51 PM (#4232093)
Anyway, as long as relievers are going to be mainly used for just 1 inning, then you generally will want to save your best reliever for the 9th inning -- at least if you believe in leverage.


It's more along the lines of "if you are going to bring in relievers at the start of an inning", actually. That is by far the biggest change in reliever usage over time; rather than waiting until a pitcher gets into trouble before replacing him, teams have moved to bringing in relievers before the preceding pitcher gets into trouble, by choice rather than out of necessity.

-- MWE
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: September 10, 2012 at 09:37 PM (#4232121)
Anyway, as long as relievers are going to be mainly used for just 1 inning, then you generally will want to save your best reliever for the 9th inning -- at least if you believe in leverage. The "trick" is recognizing when a high-leverage situation exists outside of a 9th-inning save situation and then deciding whether it's time to roll the dice with your best reliever, making him unavailable for a subsequent save situation. Pretty much every manager of the last 30 years has taken the easy way out on that decision.



That is the trick, and one of the biggest complaints about the established usage patterns of closers. Nobody(except maybe Ray who seems to think players are robots) are really arguing to not use the closer in the ninth inning, just arguing against relying on saving them for the ninth inning exclusively. Most teams have a game or two a month in which it's a very tight situation in the sixth/seventh inning and the team brings in their fourth best reliever because not only are closers being saved for the ninth, but the setup man is not being saved for the eighth.

The number of games that it seems are "lost" in a season for any team because the non-best reliever is brought into a man on second no out situation, leading by one(or tied game) is the frustrating part of being a fan. It's the situation that you hope teams recognize, that there is no reason to hold onto your best pitcher for the save in the ninth, if you can't hold onto the lead now.


It's more along the lines of "if you are going to bring in relievers at the start of an inning", actually. That is by far the biggest change in reliever usage over time; rather than waiting until a pitcher gets into trouble before replacing him, teams have moved to bringing in relievers before the preceding pitcher gets into trouble, by choice rather than out of necessity.


As a TLR fan, this is one of the frustrating things he has popularized that I can't stand. Let the guy who is looking good out there pitch, instead of bringing in the matchup guy (and I do think that there is something genetic that prevents left handed relievers from throwing a strike on the first two pitches they throw)
   12. escabeche Posted: September 10, 2012 at 10:24 PM (#4232142)
Connolly almost stumbled into that realization that no one particular reliever on the Orioles is clearly above the rest and that the closer role is overrated.


Exactly! What the 2012 Orioles showing is that having five consistently effective bullpen arms is much more valuable to your team than having a lights-out closer. Teams with a great closer don't lose games when they're leading in the 9th; the Orioles don't lose games they're leading IN THE SEVENTH. Big difference.
   13. AROM Posted: September 10, 2012 at 10:40 PM (#4232150)
Rodney has the 2nd best ERA ever, with a 50 IP minimum. Eck 1990 is the only one better. Both pitchers allowed exactly 9 runs, 5 earned, and Rodney is 8 IP behind the Eck. This might be the most shocking season of the year, especially to anyone who watched Rodney pitch in Detroit and Anaheim.
   14.   Posted: September 11, 2012 at 12:32 AM (#4232214)
Eric O'Flaherty had a 0.98 ERA last year in 73 innings; same amount of runs as Eck in the same amount of innings, although three more of them were earned.

This is last. year. But no-one has ever heard of him because the Braves have Craig Kimbrel so he didn't get any save-points.

It's all so stupid, in my opinion. So ####### stupid.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: September 11, 2012 at 02:05 AM (#4232265)
really arguing to not use the closer in the ninth inning

Maybe ... but I was reacting to:

Johnson holding down the closer role has allowed better pitchers to be used in higher leverage situations.

Even though the comment is a back-handed compliment to Showalter, there is a common misconception that the higher leverage situations are before the 9th and therefore it's OK to have a mediocre (or at least not best) reliever as closer. Obviously many high leverage situations do occur before the 9th but on every team the closers are getting more of the high leverage situations than any other pitcher.

It's more along the lines of "if you are going to bring in relievers at the start of an inning", actually. That is by far the biggest change in reliever usage over time;

I'm not sure I buy that. The shift to 1-inning relievers and "start the inning" relievers is pretty much simultaneous. And the use of LOOGYs forces relievers starting in the middle of the inning pretty frequently. Anyway, I'm not really seeing it as mattering a whole lot which is the greater driver. A rough evolution:

a) unless he's getting shelled, keep the starter in for the whole game or until you're forced to pinch-hit
b) stop letting your starter work out of late-inning trouble, bring in "fireman" and hope for the best.
c) pull your starter before he gets into late-inning trouble, which usually means at the end of an inning which leads to a reliever starting an inning.
d) LOOGY
e) geez these guys are really effective for 3-5 batters
f) reliever psyches are so fragile we can't possibly change their role one iota

With c through e kinda happening simultaneously due to the superior brainpower of LaRussa's toupee.


   16. Jim Wisinski Posted: September 11, 2012 at 03:12 AM (#4232281)
And how essential has Rodney been to a Rays team that has continually had to overcome injury to be one game behind the Orioles in the AL Wild Card race?

“Kind of like oxygen,” quipped Rays manager Joe Maddon.


Not really. Sure, the absurdly good season he's having has helped plenty, no matter how you look at it 65 innings of absolute lockdown pitching is really valuable. It's not like last year though where the bullpen was pretty much Farnsworth, Peralta, and a bunch of guys that couldn't really be relied on. They're eight deep in relievers with ERA+'s over 100 and only Peralta (3.57) and Farnsworth (3.18) have ERAs over 3. It would still be an excellent bullpen without him.

While looking up the Rays bullpen I noticed that Jake McGee, a lefty, has allowed an OPS of only .316! to RHB this year. That's a .102/.168/.148 line. NL pitchers hit a little better than that.
   17. BDC Posted: September 11, 2012 at 09:14 AM (#4232356)
e) geez these guys are really effective for 3-5 batters
f) reliever psyches are so fragile we can't possibly change their role one iota


I found these changes a bit surreal as I observed them (to my mind, in the early 2000s, though given how closely I pay attention it must have been somewhat earlier). You'll have a guy come in, throw six or seven pitches, perfect sixth inning in a reasonably close game, and next inning he's gone, your "seventh inning when behind" guy comes in. It seemed the ridiculous extrapolation of saving a pitcher for tomorrow, and when I saw the seventh-inning guy proceed to give up a run or two and set the game further out of reach (as could happen), I'd be confounded. But on the whole, I'll bet it works in some strategic sense to have your four "behind" relievers and your three "ahead" relievers ready to pitch the next day, rather than go with the hot hand today and have him unavailable tomorrow (which is how managers did it when I was a kid, and is obviously the best way :)

   18. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: September 11, 2012 at 10:31 AM (#4232462)
I've always loved Nando and I'm glad he's having a great season. One time in Detroit, he showed up at spring training with a gator tooth necklace and told everyone he had wrestled the gator for the tooth.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Sebastian
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogRoyals encounter problem with online sale of playoff tickets
(33 - 3:48am, Sep 22)
Last: Bhaakon

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread, September 2014
(353 - 2:01am, Sep 22)
Last: Swedish Chef

NewsblogHBT: Talking head says Jeter is “a fraud” and “you are all suckers”
(102 - 1:25am, Sep 22)
Last: bobm

NewsblogCameron: The Stealth MVP Candidacy of Hunter Pence
(48 - 1:07am, Sep 22)
Last: shoewizard

NewsblogJohn Thorn: Fame & Fandom
(18 - 12:51am, Sep 22)
Last: Bunny Vincennes

NewsblogA’s lose Triple-A Sacramento affiliate
(92 - 12:40am, Sep 22)
Last: Toothless

NewsblogOT: NFL/NHL thread
(8037 - 12:34am, Sep 22)
Last: AuntBea

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - September 2014
(296 - 11:51pm, Sep 21)
Last: Der-K and the statistical werewolves.

NewsblogEn Banc Court May Call Foul on Bonds Conviction
(42 - 11:50pm, Sep 21)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogOT August 2014:  Wrassle Mania I
(204 - 11:37pm, Sep 21)
Last: SouthSideRyan

NewsblogJames Shields is the perfect pitcher at the perfect time
(47 - 11:03pm, Sep 21)
Last: Shibal

NewsblogOT: NBC.news: Valve isn’t making one gaming console, but multiple ‘Steam machines’
(834 - 10:57pm, Sep 21)
Last: CrosbyBird

NewsblogOT: Politics, September, 2014: ESPN honors Daily Worker sports editor Lester Rodney
(3429 - 10:56pm, Sep 21)
Last: Greg K

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 9-21-2014
(102 - 10:51pm, Sep 21)
Last: salvomania

NewsblogAthletics out of top wild-card spot, Texas sweeps
(18 - 10:30pm, Sep 21)
Last: Spahn Insane

Page rendered in 0.1718 seconds
52 querie(s) executed