Matt Lindstrom can throw a baseball 100 miles per hour. And if that was not good enough, the Marlins traded Kevin Gregg in the off-season, clearing the closer’s job for Lindstrom. With Logan Kensing and Scott Proctor as his main competition, it appears Lindstrom should be the team’s closer on Opening Day. So, why isn’t there more excitement surround Lindstrom? He does not crack the top 200 in early ADP reports.
Last year, Lindstrom’s walk rate was less than good. He suffered through a minor back injury and spent some time in the minors. But when he was with the Marlins, he posted a 4.08 BB/9 which led to a 1.45 WHIP. His previous track record with walks is spotty. Lindstrom was very good with the Marlins in 2007, with a 2.82 BB/9, but his minor league record shows seasons in line with 2008.
Gregg notched 61 saves for the Marlins over the past two seasons with a walk rate similar to Lindstrom’s mark last season. But let’s not get bogged down with his walks. In addition to his velocity, Lindstrom is also a groundball pitcher. His GB/FB ratio last year was 1.54, which led to a microscopic 0.16 HR/9, the fourth-lowest total among relievers. Some might think that he’s in for a major regression but in 2007 his HR/9 checked in at 0.27 for the year.
The combination of a top-notch fastball, lots of ground balls and very few home runs allowed is an attractive one for a potential closer. One thing to be wary of is that Lindstrom has agreed to pitch for the U.S. in the WBC. Instead of spending Spring Training refining his slider and firmly establishing himself as the team’s closer, Lindstrom will be setting up Joe Nathan, Brian Fuentes, Jonathan Broxton and others.
While that is a concern, it should not override a guy with an excellent shot of posting 30+ saves with solid strikeout numbers. In his two years in the majors, Lindstrom has a 7.60 K/9 rate. That’s a nice combo for a guy going in the lower 20 percent of mock drafts currently.