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Valuing closers

Edgy DC
Oct 03 2005 10:50 PM

You have ten pitchers. They more or less have the same number of pitches in their repetoire. The best five or seven more or less have the same top speed on their fastballs. The main difference among them is that some are more generally effective than others, and you've ranked your best top to bottom.

You're building a pitching staff, and all of them historically are starters. Who would you want as your closer? Your second-best pitcher? Your fourth best? Another?

Valadius
Oct 03 2005 10:56 PM

I would tend to think it would be either your third or fourth best pitcher, leaning towards the fourth. You want to win a majority of your games, and if you have your first three members of the rotation set, as if gearing up for the playoffs, then you can plug in your closer.

Edgy DC
Oct 03 2005 11:04 PM

I'm thinking third or fourth, leaning toward the fourth, depending on the dropoff, is about right.

Centerfield
Oct 03 2005 11:05 PM

If every inning were equal, you'd want your top five pitchers to eat up as many of them as possible. Every starter pitches at least twice as many innings as a closer.

Gotta go with number 6.

metirish
Oct 03 2005 11:13 PM

I'll go 1 through 10..

# 1 SP - Dontrelle Willis - Marlins
# 2 SP - Pedro Martinez - Mets
# 3 SP - C. Sabathia - Indians
# 4 SP - Livan Hernandez - Nats
# 5 SP - Smoltz - Braves

# 6 RP - Brad Lidge - Astros
# 7 RP - Francisco Rodríguez - LAA
# 8 RP - Scott Shields - LAA
# 9 RP - Gange - Dodgers

# 10 the closer.....C. Cordero - Nats

that's my ten.

Edgy DC
Oct 03 2005 11:13 PM

Well, every inning isn't equal.

The ones when you're ahead by one in the ninth are more important than the ones when you're down by seven in the ninth.

Perhaps they're more important than the ones when you're tied at zero in the first, I don't know.

rpackrat
Oct 04 2005 01:34 PM

]Well, every inning isn't equal.

The ones when you're ahead by one in the ninth are more important than the ones when you're down by seven in the ninth.


But since you can't know ahead of time in which ninth innings you'll have a one run lead and in which you'll be down by seven, I'd be inclined to have my five best pitchers starting, where they will pitch the most innings, and my sixth best pitcher closing, where he will likely pitch the sixth-most innings on the staff.

sharpie
Oct 04 2005 01:36 PM

Closers rarely get as many innings as good set-up guys who might pitch more than one inning.

Valadius
Oct 04 2005 01:38 PM

What would you rather see? Your first and sixth best pitcher trying to win a game, or your first and fourth best pitcher trying to win a game? I'd go with the fourth. You need the guy that's going to pitch for you every day to be one of your better pitchers.

Edgy DC
Oct 04 2005 01:51 PM

]But since you can't know ahead of time in which ninth innings you'll have a one run lead and in which you'll be down by seven...


Sure you do. At the end of the eighth inning the scoreboard tells you. And if it's the former, you send out Jesse; if it's the latter, Tom Gorman.

Which is why a closer is an important thing. You can pick his appearances for appropriate game situations in ways you can't for starters.

ABG
Oct 04 2005 02:35 PM

If I were managing, I'd make my best pitcher the closer. I might even make my second best the top setup guy.

GM's get the blame for not going out to get good starting pitching, managers tend to get the blame for blowing late games.

Edgy DC
Oct 04 2005 03:06 PM

Bart, coming out of nowhere and going off the board.

Of course, I can't agree with a strategy built around ass-coverage, but nice to read a new approach.

rpackrat
Oct 04 2005 03:35 PM

]But since you can't know ahead of time in which ninth innings you'll have a one run lead and in which you'll be down by seven...


Sure you do. At the end of the eighth inning the scoreboard tells you. And if it's the former, you send out Jesse; if it's the latter, Tom Gorman.


But the discussion wasn't about whether you use your 6th or your 10th best pitcher to finish the game, it was about whether you use your third (or fourth) best, or your 6th best. So, unless you plan to set your starting rotation after the eight inning, that comment is not really very helpful. You have to make the choice between #3 guy and # 6 guy some time before you get through the 8th inning.

metsmarathon
Oct 04 2005 03:42 PM

well, if you want way outside the box....

six man rotation. the guy on his third day of rest is my closer for that day, and pitches my ninth inning if needed, instead of his regular bullpen throwing session.

Edgy DC
Oct 04 2005 03:55 PM

]But the discussion wasn't about whether you use your 6th or your 10th best pitcher to finish the game, it was about whether you use your third (or fourth) best, or your 6th best. So, unless you plan to set your starting rotation after the eight inning, that comment is not really very helpful. You have to make the choice between #3 guy and # 6 guy some time before you get through the 8th inning.


I'm confused by this.

You do know that there will be one-run and other small leads to protect --- whether today or tomorrow. The best and worst teams all have a significant number of these.

Johnny Dickshot
Oct 04 2005 04:10 PM

Getting back to the original question, while the correct answer *in general* is "6" I don't think relievers are necessarily selected for their rankings *as starters* but rather on much narrower terms that your example doesn't reveal.

Certain stuff would count more: Overall opportunities to claim a starter role ... if one warmed up faster than the others ... the righthanded/lefthanded composition... or one threw too many wild pitches ... all of this and more would enter to an actual decision.

metirish
Oct 04 2005 04:13 PM

I totally misinterpreted this question it looks like, sorry.

Edgy DC
Oct 04 2005 04:21 PM

]Certain stuff would count more: Overall opportunities to claim a starter role ... if one warmed up faster than the others ... the righthanded/lefthanded composition... or one threw too many wild pitches ... all of this and more would enter to an actual decision.


So, getting back to my original question, you point out that my original question is bogus. Yeah, true, it's not a real-world scenario.

But, when shopping, if you believe that in such a fake-world scenario you would want your stopper to be your sixth best pitcher, wouldn't you, in the real world, want him to be your sixth priority --- giving him the sixth highest salary (assuming all your pitchers are arb eligiible, blah, blah)?

Edgy DC
Oct 04 2005 04:26 PM
Edited 1 time(s), most recently on Oct 04 2005 04:41 PM

The Mets, interestingly, entered the season with their stopper not only getting less than each of their five (all arb-eligible), but less than two other relievers, although that may not be so on an average-over-the-length-of-contract basis. So, they would seemingly agree wtih Dickshot.


Martinez, Pedro $ 10,875,000
Glavine, Tom $ 10,765,608
Benson, Kris $ 5,333,333
Ishii, Kazuhisa $ 3,575,000
Zambrano, Victor $ 2,100,000
Heredia, Felix $ 1,800,000
DeJean, Mike $ 1,150,000
Looper, Braden $ 800,000
Hernandez, Roberto $ 650,000
Matthews, Mike $ 500,000
Koo, Dae Sung $ 450,000
Aybar, Manny $ 425,000

Johnny Dickshot
Oct 04 2005 04:31 PM

Guys who can pitch effectively for 1 or 2 innings are much more common than those who can go 6, 7 or 8. Their salaries generally reflect that.

Zvon
Oct 04 2005 04:35 PM

Starters and closers are two different animals.
A starter has to be able to bring it over an extended period of time, and a closer just for 1 or 2 innings.
The issue of stamina is a major factor.

But using your hypothetical model, Id want my 3rd pitcher to be the closer.
In theory ,I would want wins from my ace and number 2 everytime out, and I would want my closer to be successful in every save situation handed to him.

Edgy DC
Oct 04 2005 04:42 PM

Anybody think Billy Wagner is worth Benson Bucks?

(Answer please before trying to google up a picture of his wifey.)

Rotblatt
Oct 04 2005 04:45 PM

Edgy DC wrote:
(Answer please before trying to google up a picture of his wifey.)


Damn you for preempting me!

Anyway, he's worth Benson bucks but not Benson years, IMO. Big one-year or two-year contract, but if we go three, he should be less expensive.

Zvon
Oct 04 2005 04:51 PM

Wags?
5.5 mill?


Yea,.....if i was an owner and if i could afford to.

2 years tops.

Johnny Dickshot
Oct 04 2005 04:53 PM

No. I mean, probably not.

rpackrat
Oct 04 2005 05:36 PM

]I'm confused by this.

You do know that there will be one-run and other small leads to protect --- whether today or tomorrow. The best and worst teams all have a significant number of these.


That's not the point. We were talking about how we would assign roles, i.e., would you make your third or your sixth best pitcher the closer? Because you will not have the option of using someone from your starting rotation in the ninth inning of a game he didn't start just because the game is close, the fact that you can safely guess that there will be x number of close games is irrelevant to the initial question. You need to assign those roles ahead of time, not on the fly.

heep
Oct 04 2005 06:12 PM

I believe so. I think we have 2 FA issues to tackle this winter

(1) I'm guessing Wagner will get 3 years at 9 million (no-trade clause)

As one of the the top 5 closers in the game, he could very well be one of the necessary pieces this team needs to enter and succeed in the playoffs. Wagner should be the #1 priority for us after the WS if the Phillies blow it. They have something like 15 days after the final game of the WS to sign him, right? From what I've been reading, it appears Billy is frustrated by the lack of progress in K talks with Phila. What a way to stick it to the Phillies by signing with the Mets.

Lights out closer - worth every penny.

(2) The next FA issue is, assuming Mike Jacobs will be taking 100 ground balls/day in the winter league at 1b, do we pursue Hernandez or Molina.

Personally, I think I Molina is a better option - catch 115 games, real good D catcher, makes contact. How much he is worth...don't know.

I would also like to see some youth in the starting rotation next year, i.e. Bannister, Heilman, Seo.