Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Excerpt: "The Tigers' Bullpen"

"The real keys, though, are the same pitchers who have been effective for Leyland for two years now: Joaquin Benoit and Drew Smyly. Benoit inherited the closer role from Valverde. Since his first post-Valverde save on June 16, Benoit has a 1.17 ERA in 23 innings, with a 25.5% strikeout rate and a 24/7 K/BB. The Tigers are 22-1 in the 23 games he's pitched, the one loss coming when he made a get-work appearance with the Tigers down 3-1 in the ninth on June 27. At 35, Benoit is posting the highest groundball rate (41.6%, per Fangraphs) of his career, which is one reason why his low home-run rate -- just two this year -- isn't entirely a fluke. Benoit's HR/FB of 6.7% isn't out of line with his rates since he moved to the bullpen in 2005. Benoit is example N+1 supporting the idea that a pitcher good enough to pitch the eighth inning is good enough to pitch the ninth."