Once More Unto The Breach – The Ivy Drip’s Season Preview: The Bullpen
Trying to preview the bullpen of a bad team is basically folly. By definition on any baseball team the bullpen is the most volatile unit because it’s comprised of what are the worst players on the team. From year-to-year it can be just about anything. Guys pop up with good years one season and then the next can’t get anyone out and then the next are effective again (sound like Pedro Strop?). This was a pen that was stabilized by Kevin Fucking Gregg last year, so you know what we’re dealing with.
The pen is what turned April and most of May into such a horror show last year, when the starting rotation was actually exemplary. Carlos Marmol had trouble keeping his pitches between the baselines, much less the strikezone. Kyuji Fujikawa quickly realized his stuff might not be good enough, and then blew out his elbow trying to overthrow it. James Russell was used every day and warmed up every day. So we’ll try, but really it could be anything.
Alberto Cabrera – One of the more intriguing stories in the pen, because last year in Double A was pretty successful as a starter but then whacked when moved to the pen nearing his innings limit. Has been seen up here before, and really does have plus stuff. But bouncing a pitcher between relieving and starting and back to relieving can always be problematic, so make sure you hold on tight.
Justin Grimm – They say the stuff is there, but he also doesn’t know what direction it’s generally going. That fastball looks a little string-straight at times no matter what velocity it is. Still worthy of a spot. At least this pen is comprised of a lot of guys who can throw hard, which is the name of the game these days.
Hector Rondon – Might start the year in Iowa now that he doesn’t have to be kept on the roster being a Rule 5 pickup. Rondon actually closed with something of a flourish last year after looking out of his depth in the season’s first half. In nine September innings he didn’t allow a run and struck out eight. Now, in September you’re facing a lot of hitters at the end of games who are stepping on their tongues. Again, there’s lot of stuff here and you can see where it could work out. But you could also see where he’ll walk the park.
James Russell – Oh everyday Jimmy. Russell was abused by Sveum and then turned into a LOOGY which he really isn’t. Russell did eventually get murdered by right-handed hitters last year, but that could have just been fatigue. The real worry for Russell is that he’s piled up three straight seasons of 65+ appearances. Wesley Wright’s presence will help lessen that, but you wonder just how much abuse that arm can take.
Pedro Strop – There were some who thought he might get a crack at the closer’s role, as he got a couple pops at it at the very end last year. Strop’s second half numbers look pretty good after arrival, especially the 35 K’s in 29 innings. There’s a definite out-pitch with the slider. He’s basically the 8th inning guy now, poised to take the closer role if he succeeds. But this is a guy who was real good in 2012 and then bad in 2013 before the trade. You can’t guarantee that he’ll back it up, but it’s probably the best stuff in the pen.
Jose Veras – You’re run of the mill closer, but this one comes in black.
Wesley Wright – Just a LOOGY who can probably pitch until he’s 76.
There are others who could come up for air. My guy Blake Parker didn’t make the team and he only gets by on his balls but it was pretty effective last year. Erik Jokisch could, Jonathan Sanchez, Brian Schlitter. The real excitement is if Arodys Vinzcaino can recover from his injuries to establish himself as the closer of the future. But other than that, these guys all look the same.