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AZ SnakePit "Community" Projections, Part Four: Bullpen

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Last year, the team's bullpen was overall mediocre, but seemed to struggle most when the team needed them most. I trust I need not re-hash the horrors which were the eighth inning - our pitchers allowed 25% more runs there, than the nearest challengers in the National League. In 2010, we'll see quite a number of replacements, with only Chad Qualls and Juan Gutierrez returning from the 2009 Opening Day roster.

The possible contenders for the remaining slots include faces old (Bob Howry, aged 36), new (Jordan Norberto, not even on the radar before spring training), borrowed (Zach Kroenke, lifted from the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft) and blue (Aaron Heilman, a Cub last season). After the jump, we'll take a look, in descending order of likely roster worthiness, at the ten men most likely to be part of the Diamondbacks relief corps this season. What do the projection systems have to say about their performance? And do I agree or not? Though given the number of people to be covered, these will likely be a little less in-depth than previous entries!

Chad Qualls
2009 52.0 3.63 1.15
Bill James 50.0 3.42 1.22
CHONE 57.0 3.63 1.25
Marcel 58.0 3.72 1.26
ZIPS 65.2 3.56 1.22
THT 65.0 3.69 1.22

Qualls will be back in the closer's role for Arizona, having missed the last month of 2009 with a knee injury. It doesn't appear that should trouble him this season, and - one startlingly bad outing aside - Qualls has had a very solid spring. I think the WHIP projections are a little high, given Qualls' proven ability to generate groundball outs, almost at will.
AZ SnakePit: 3.50 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

Juan Gutierrez
2009 71.0 4.06 1.37
Bill James 68.0 4.76 1.49
CHONE 65.0 4.02 1.37
Marcel 61.0 4.13 1.36
ZIPS 75.2 4.52 1.49
THT 65.0 4.80 1.52

Gutierrez was one of the best surprises of 2009, and it's surprising to me that four of the five systems do not expect him to repeat that performance, with an average increase of 0.39 in his ERA projected for 2010. Can only presume this is a lack of data: at age 26, it's not as if Gutierrez is exactly over the hill.
AZ SnakePit: 4.10 ERA, 1,40 WHIP

Bob Howry
2009 63.2 3.39 1.15
Bill James 68.0 3.44 1.22
CHONE 61.0 4.72 1.39
Marcel 64.0 4.22 1.33
ZIPS 66.0 4.09 1.30
THT 65.0 4.32 1.34

In an off-season of generally good signings, Howry stood out as a risky pick. He'll be 37 in August, and the odds of him repeating last year's 129+ ERA seem slim, given that's better than his career ERA+. Remember Tom Gordon last season? While Howry is certainly not quite in the same league as far as risk (see above), if he were to fall apart in 2010, I wouldn't be surprised.
AZ SnakePit: 4.60 ERA, 1.38 WHIP

Aaron Heilman
2009 72.1 4.11 1.41
Bill James 72.0 3.88 1.35
CHONE 67.0 4.70 1.46
Marcel 69.0 4.30 1.41
ZIPS 76.1 4.36 1.44
THT 70.0 4.61 1.46

Heilman is the poster child for Arizona's relief arm acquisition policy - no "pure" reliever pitched more innings from 2006-09, and we also have the #6 (Qualls) and #7 (Howry) on the list - plus, until late last season, the #2 (Jon Rauch). I'm not expecting too much from him, but after last year, eighth-inning mediocrity would count as a welcome improvement.
AZ SnakePit: 4.35 ERA, 1.42 WHIP

Clay Zavada
2009 51.0 3.35 1.35
Bill James
CHONE 43.0 4.19 1.35
Marcel 51.0 3.88 1.33
ZIPS 54.2 3.62 1.30
THT 65.0 4.03 1.34

Exploding onto the Diamondbacks in 2009 like a crate of dodgy Chinese fireworks, Zavada would likely be beloved of Arizona fans regardless of his performance - as long as the facial hair remains intact. Fortunately, there's no real reason to worry about his performance, even if it a few less walks would be helpful. Probably a bit much to expect his first earned run not to be until July.
AZ SnakePit: 3.80 ERA, 1.33 WHIP

Blaine Boyer
2009 54.2 4.12 1.39
Bill James 57.0 4.74 1.58
CHONE 52.0 4.50 1.46
Marcel 60.0 4.35 1.37
ZIPS 64.1 4.48 1.41
THT 40.0 4.59 1.45

Boyer proved a very good waiver-wire pick up for the Diamondbacks last season. Expecting a sub-three ERA for us again is optimistic, and he also didn't allow a home-run in 37 innings for Arizona, which won't last forever. However, he is only 28, and should be serviceable as a mop-up man and long relief.
AZ SnakePit: 4.40 ERA, 1.38 WHIP

Leo Rosales
2009 45.1 4.76 1.15
Bill James 47.0 3.83 1.34
CHONE 51.0 4.41 1.39
Marcel 51.0 4.06 1.33
ZIPS 46.2 4.44 1.41
THT 65.0 4.42 1.42

Rosales's position on the roster is fragile - he doesn't have any options remaining, but he may be sacrificed to make way for a LOOGY. Odds are he won't make his way through waivers, and while a 4.76 ERA would not normally be much to pine about, the projections are unanimous for improvement in 2010, presumably based off his great WHIP. However, in 2009, Rosales had a .255 BABIP, which seems unsustainably low to me. I'm unconvinced.
AZ SnakePit: 4.60 ERA, 1.40 WHIP

Esmerling Vasquez
2009 53.0 4.42 1.53
Bill James 54.0 4.67 1.52
CHONE 53.0 4.58 1.49
Marcel 51.0 4.41 1.43
ZIPS 63.1 4.69 1.59
THT 65.0 5.19 1.60

Vasquez may end up in Reno, regardless of performance, simply because he's one of the few bullpen candidates who can be sent to Triple-A. Walked almost five per nine IP in the majors, in line with his minor numbers (4.7 BB/9 IP), which is too much to be successful. Unless needed, I'd be inclined to put him back in the minors, until he has shown better control.
AZ SnakePit: 4.90 ERA, 1.55 WHIP

Jordan Norberto
Bill James
CHONE 38.0 5.92 1.74
ZIPS 61.2 6.13 1.90

Came pretty much out of nowhere, as you can imagine from the lack of projections above. Allowing one hit in 6.2 spring innings has certainly opened eyes, but as we saw yesterday, control can still be an issue (five walks and a hit batter over that time). Doubt he'll be with the team on Opening Day, but wouldn't be surprised to see him at some point this year.
AZ SnakePit: 5.50 ERA, 1.70 WHIP

Zach Kroenke
Bill James
CHONE 47.0 5.17 1.57
ZIPS 59.2 5.58 1.71

As a Rule 5 pick, he has to be kept on the roster, but I believe, as a two-time pick, he can opt to become a free-agent rather than be sent back to the Yankees. I think we'd like to hang onto him, but as we're in "win now" mode, perhaps not at the cost of a better pitcher. It might not surprise me if we work out some kind of deal, whereby he becomes a free-agent, then re-signs here and gets a 40-man spot instead. We can then see him again in 2011.
AZ SnakePit: 5.70 ERA, 1.75 WHIP