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  1. While Guerrier may look as though he has become the guy that Gardenhire runs to with runners on base, that has become Jesse Crain over the last 2 months – who has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball over that span.

    Just wanted to throw that out there – coming from a Twins fan, and all.

    Comment by Erik — September 29, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  2. Francisco is likely out for the season, by the way.

    Comment by philkid3 — September 29, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

  3. Where’s my one line summary so I don’t have to read a whole essay? Can’t you just come to conclusions for me? Just tell me who’s best so I can unfairly judge the teams when they exceed/deceed expectations.

    Seriously though, great read.

    Comment by Jim — September 29, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

  4. Yea, Gardy really messes up bullpen management. He overworks the arms he depends on way too much, which is why Guerrier has lost his go-to status. Hopefully he will get enough rest to pitch productively in the play-offs.

    Also, Gardy will go to Fuentes in the ninth for a tough lefty, so Capps doesn’t have a perfect closing gig.

    Comment by TFINY — September 29, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

  5. “But bullpens also play a large role in the postseason” — I’ve always thought that bullpens, especially in short series, are subject to such a high degree of variance that they aren’t that important of a factor in wagering on a team prior to the series starting. And should not heavily weighted in any equation in picking favorites.

    I will admint they do have a role, but not as large a role as starting pitching, defense, offense, and base-running. For example, if you SP puts you in a 3-4 run whole early in a game, it usually doesn’t matter if your bullpen doesn’t give up any more damage, and further, each bullpen is shortened so that you are only featuring your three best relief pitchers in most situations. They just don’t have enough game situations to make a large impact.

    Comment by Alec — September 29, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

  6. still it can be so demoralizing to cough up the lead with a shaky bullpen when you have a 2-1 lead in the ninth in game 1 (ace duel so assume low scoring). sure the rotation is much more important, but locking down wins after the starter leaves with a lead is huge, and not having to worry about it is a great relief to the starter.

    Comment by phoenix — September 29, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  7. Joe – Nice overview and I particularly liked how you designated aces by their use in high leverage situations rather than as a proxy for the 8th-inning set-up man.

    Only one minor disagreement beyond the inclusion of Francisco and that is your description of the Rays’ McGee when you write he walks way too many batters.

    (1) McGee has only pitched 3.1 innings in September so we can’t conclude much from that sample size.

    (2) Notwithstanding the limit in (1), it’s worth mentioning that McGee gave up three walks in his debut, lasting only one-third of an inning. He was clearly rattled and that affected his mechanics — his fastball velocity was off 5 clicks from his normal mid-90s heat according to pitchFX. Since then he has pitched 3 innings, his velocity is back to normal and he hasn’t given up a walk.

    (3) In 90 innings in AAA as a starter, McGee walked 33, not a stellar rate but a pretty good one, certainly much better than Kerry Wood, who has kept runs to a minimal despite a high walk rate.

    The risk with McGee isn’t his control but rather that he may fall prone again to rookie jitters.

    Comment by rotofan — September 29, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

  8. Gardy messes up bullpen management? LOL. Gardy annually takes a bunch of average arms in the pen and ends up with a bullpen ERA near the top of the league. They’ve never once had a bullpen below league average in his 9 years as manager.

    Bullpen management is among his strongest assets. Who gives a crap if Guerrier is overused? Finding the next Matt Guerrier is relatively easy. BTW, “Gardy will go to Fuentes in the ninth for a tough lefty?? He’s done it once, in Fuentes very first Twins appearance. Hasn’t done it since in a save situation.

    And this article is pretty poorly researched. Guerrier is, at best, the third RH option in Twins pen, behind Crain and Rausch. And Capps, of course.

    Comment by NotDave — September 29, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

  9. About the Yankees, it looks like Wood is going to be the 8th inning guy, so I would list him as the bullpen ace.

    Comment by Michael Becque — September 29, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

  10. Michael – I think you may be confusing the difference between the 8th inning guy and what Joe calls the bullpen ace — they are not one in the same. The ace is the reliever who is used whenever the game is most on the line regardless of the inning — it could be the fifth inning, for example. These so called high-leverage moments don’t all neatly into the ninth or eight innings, a point made in research by Tam Tango and others. That Wood is being used in the 8th makes him the traditional setup man — but not the ace. The latter is the domain of Robertson, whom Joe writes of: “Joe Girardi is willing to use him in any critical spot regardless of inning.”

    Comment by rotofan — September 29, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

  11. Off the subject of this years pens. Who closes for TB next year? 3 of the 4 guys mentioned above are FA and they have stated they are cutting payroll(great place to start in my opinion).

    Scenarios:
    1.) Do they pickup Wheeler’s option ($4mm) and make him the closer.
    2.) Do they sign Benoit to a one year, below value contract, and tell him it’s his to lose. Setting up a big payday next offseason if he gets the 40 saves they surely will create.
    3.) Do they sign a veteran similar to Soriano’s deal or is that too expensive?
    4.) Make due from within using their cheap, under control, bevy of quality starting arms?

    Anyone? Beuller? Thoughts? Comments and/or insightful banter would be appreciated.

    Comment by rotopoto — September 29, 2010 @ 10:45 pm

  12. (1) I think Wheeler is too weak against lefties to be an effective closer
    (2) I think other teams will spend more who are also willing to give Benoit a chance at closing.
    (3) Fuentes and Putz will be free agents. Rivera will be too but the Rays can’t afford him Thornton is a free agent too but either he or the White Sox hold an option.
    (4) For entirely selfish reasons I’m pulling for Jake McGee — He’s on my fantasy squad.

    Comment by Jonathan Sher — September 30, 2010 @ 12:46 am

  13. Gardenhire’s bullpen management leaves plenty of be desired.

    Don’t act as if he is flawless in this area, because he is most certainly not.

    Comment by Erik — September 30, 2010 @ 11:32 am

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