The San Diego Padres appear to have their closer.
After watching Heath Bell leave in free agency, many expected the Padres to look to their own pen to find their late-inning solution — but on Wednesday morning, they have reportedly acquired Huston Street from the Colorado Rockies for the reliable player to be named later. The trade for the Rockies is almost assuredly to clear cash in an effort to create flexibility for other moves, but until we learn more about their own plans for the closer role, the fantasy impact for now is that Huston Street’s stock just rose pretty significantly.
Why? The happiest place on Earth to pitch, of course.
For quick a quick example, look no further than Heath Bell. Dave Cameron recently wrote up the effect Petco Park had on Heath Bell’s career, so check out the post for the full details, but to excerpt a particularly salient point:
“Bell is one of the signature beneficiares of how the park plays. In his career, he’s faced 791 batters in San Diego – 10 of them have managed to hit the ball over the wall, one for every 79.1 batters he faced. Away from the friendly confines, he has faced 1,182 batters and allowed 20 home runs, one for every 59.1 batters that have come up to bat against him. His home run prevention has been 34 percent better in San Diego…”
If Petco helped Bell control the long ball, Huston Street is going to be very comfortable pitching in San Diego.
Heath Bell’s career fly ball rate is just 32% whereas Street has a career FB% of over 42%, and has been as high as 48% as recently as 2010, despite the fact that he primarily uses a sinker. His fly ball tendencies didn’t play particularly well in Colorado as he allowed hitters a .305/.331/.483 line with a .376 BABIP at home whereas his road results were .243/.277/.467 with a .263 BABIP.
The park effects for Street just couldn’t be much more different in going from Coors to Petco.
Looking at how Street pitched in the spacious Oakland Coliseum helps illustrate the pitcher we might see in San Diego. Using StatCorner‘s data on park effects, the wOBA for hitters in San Deigo rates right around a 91 (I’m rather crudely averaging the LHB/RHB data for simplicty) where 100 is neutral, and in Oakland, it is about a 94 (Coors is about 110). Looking at Street’s time pitching in Oakland, his HR/9 was just .60 over his four years there. In his three years in Colorado, his HR/9 rate is 1.19 — almost double.
From a fantasy perspective, this move vaults Street into a much higher tier as a closer. In his career, Street owns a 3.11 ERA (3.09 FIP), a 1.07 WHIP and a 9.10 K/9 rate and when he’s been healthy, he’s been a great source of saves and strikeouts. The obvious question is his health as Street has been dogged by injuries for most of his career. But if this trade does indeed go down, and he’s able to stay on the field to give the Padres 60 innings, he should provide your fantasy team with an ERA around 3.00 (with the potential to be significantly lower), a low WHIP, somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 K’s, and a good shot at 35 saves.