• Buck Showalter tells you it’s a committee in Baltimore, but it sure looks a lot like Zach Britton is the guy he is leaning towards at the moment. The Baltimore lefty nailed down the second save of his career with a 1-2-3 inning on Sunday. Britton’s 3.03 xFIP is not quite as sparkly as his ERA (0.70) but his SIERA splits the difference (2.03). Why the discrepancy? SIERA takes into account his batted ball profile and the southpaw is inducing grounders at a ridiculous 80% rate. Is that sustainable? Probably not, but if he can keep the ball on the ground, he’ll help make up for the fact that he has a below-average (for a late-inning reliever, at least) strikeout rate.
OK, should we be ready to anoint Britton the next big thing? Maybe not and here’s why. Of some concern is the fact that Britton has never been good against righties. While he has been better this year by wOBA against (.247 vs. RHB), a 0.154 BABIP is masking the fact that his 15.8% K% and 12.3% BB% are subpar. And that’s just looking at his 2014 numbers, his career marks are even worse. What does that all mean? Well, I’m a little worried a big trio of righties (let’s say Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, for example) could rake against Britton. Of course, a ninth inning like that would be a perfect setup for the side-arming righty who struggles against lefties (Darren O’Day) but playing those platoons might make too much sense. Own Britton everywhere but don’t see the ERA and think you’ve found the next big thing. Yet.
• Ronald Belisario stunk up the joint yesterday. It wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill blown save, either, it was a downright ugly one (so much for John Danks eight-inning gem!). Robin Ventura came out on Sunday morning and reiterated to the Chicago Sun-Times that Belisario was his guy, although, honestly, his endorsement was tepid. “I think we’re at a point where we’ve got other guys that have the ability to do it.(..) It’s not the time to do that right now. [Belisario] was throwing strikes. It’s not like he was walking guys.” That doesn’t sound like “he’s my guy, he’s got the stones for the ninth!”
It’s tough to put full trust in Belisario, but he’s been a better pitcher than his recent results would indicate. A 2.63 SIERA is nothing to sneeze at and his 52 LOB% indicates a bit of rebound in the stand luck department might be on the horizon. I’ve said it before, Daniel Webb may have the best pure stuff in this pen. Unfortunately, until he figures out how to throw strikes with a high degree of consistency, he might not even be the backup plan here.
• Quick hits: Ernesto Frieri picked up the save this afternoon. His usage over the last few games indicates that he’s all but fully reclaimed his closer gig. At least until his next series of hiccups. Jenrry Mejia picked up another save for the Mets. He’s going to keeping getting opportunities as long as that slider keeps getting swings and misses. Casey Janssen remains perfect on the season and is locked in as the Blue Jays stopper. That said, his velocity is down and he’s struggling to get swings-and-misses. He bears watching.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
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