Mitchell Boggs: Fantasy Closer Update

After blowing four saves in five chances, Ryan Franklin lost hold of his closer’s job for the Cardinals over the weekend. In his first crack at redeeming himself yesterday, the veteran right-hander allowed a solo homer (to Laynce Nix!) in two innings of work against the Nationals, coming into the 7th inning of game when St. Louis trailed by two. Clearly, he’s got a long way to go before reclaiming his job. But what about the guy that replaced him?

After a few days of speculation, Tony LaRussa confirmed to us that Mitchell Boggs is first in line for saves during Franklin’s (possibly permanent) hiatus. The 27-year-old right-hander was brought in to protect a two-run lead in game two of yesterday’s double header, allowing a single to Ian Desmond in an otherwise perfect frame. He needed just 15 pitches to record a strikeout, a ground out, the single, and an infield pop-up. On the season, Boggs has struck out 13 of 38 batters he’s faced (34.2%), walking three and allowing just four hits. Obviously a job well done, but there are underlying concerns.

A fastball (both four- and two-seamers) and slider guy, that scouting report has following Boggs basically his entire career. Baseball America said he could remain a starter “if he can improve his changeup and command” in their 2009 Prospect Handbook, the last time Boggs appeared in the annual. He hasn’t, so to the bullpen he’s since gone. Without that third pitch, a changeup or splitter to whatever, left-handed batters have enjoyed far too much success against him. Here’s the career splits…

vs. RHB: 105 IP, 431 BF, .232 AVG (.292 BABIP), 7.71 K/9, 3.34 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9, 3.37 FIP, 3.70 xFIP

vs. LHB: 64.1 IP, 324 BF, .319 AVG (.339 BABIP), 4.76 K/9, 6.16 BB/9, 1.26 HR/9, 6.10 FIP, 5.84 xFIP

I took the liberty of removing intentional walks from the walk rates, I hate those things. Those sizable splits existed in the minors as well, though not to that extreme. As Hahmann said earlier in the week, Boggs isn’t a perfect solution for the Cardinals’ ninth inning woes, but he’s the team’s best option at the moment. As long as he’s getting saves, he’s worth a spot on your fantasy team. Boggs is owned in 35% of Yahoo! leagues and 11.4% of ESPN leagues, so hurry out and grab him if he’s still available in yours.

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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

18 Responses to “Mitchell Boggs: Fantasy Closer Update”

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  1. Caps says:

    Better starter than Broxton at this point?

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  2. Rico says:

    I think it’s worth noting that stats for RPs vary so much from season to season, particularly when a player is entering the season at age 27. It’s only been 10 IPs, but his xFIP is 2.58 and he xFIPed 4.0 last season which was his first as a dedicated RP. I guess what I’m getting at is that I’d rather use small sample sizes with recency than go back a few years on a guy back and forth between SP and RP who’s still learning/developing. With a free closer who could easily toss out a 3.7xFIP full season, you can do a lot worse.

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  3. Pat says:

    I hope it’s Boggs, but I thought it was interesting that Miller and Bautista were both warming up when the final out was recorded last night.

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  4. sanderson13 says:

    I nabbed Boggs last week (whew!).

    Side note, what do people think of Hank Conger? Foolish to drop Carlos Ruiz for him?

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    • joe bananas says:

      like conger but can’t trust his playing time, for now anyway. (this is coming from a napoli owner)

      i have franklin in several leagues, so i’m hoping that TLR continues staying unreasonably loyal to his guy and gives him the job at some point.

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      • sanderson13 says:

        Yeah, I hear you on the playing time. I’ll probably hold Ruiz just for that reason, although I’m so sure nobody’s going to pick up Ruiz that it’s tempting to nab Conger to see how that pans out. Good luck with Franklin!

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  5. Young gung says:

    I know a 130 pitch count is a small sample size, but can you really use his career splits when he’s threw his 2-seam fastball not only more than anything else this year, but more than he ever has in his career? He’s never even really used the 2-seamer looking at pitch/fx, and now he’s depending on it. Now granted, this year’s splits against lefties still aren’t all that, but his xFIP is in the mid 4s and not the high 5s. Like I said small sample size, but going off his career is going off of him using a different pitching philosophy than what he has used so far this year.

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    • Mike Axisa says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      That’s a PitchFX classification issue more than anything. The algorithm is doing a much better job of identifying two-seamers now. Look around the league, everyone’s FT% has shot up.

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      • Young gung says:

        So if it was doing a bad job before what abbreviation were the 2 seamers being lumped under before, FA%? Btw, the definitions of the pitch abbreviations need to be updated in the Pitchfx glossary because some of them don’t even apply anymore:

        I always figured the four seamer was FA%, I’ve never even seen FF% used before. Pitch Fx also neglects the usage of a sinker too. If you look at someone like Cahill or Webb it doesn’t even show them as using a FS%, just shows fastball. Is that an algorithm problem too?

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  6. Bodhizefa says:

    I did some cursory research this morning while thinking about Boggs. Here are some other recently successful relievers who have had pretty sizable splits as right-handed relievers against left-handed batters:

    Jose Valverde
    Rafael Soriano
    Joel Hanrahan
    Chris Perez

    In other words, you can be a closer and still have fairly big splits. Valverde, in particular, has been closing quite a while even though he’s pretty much always had trouble against lefties. In other words, Mitchell Boggs has a shot at holding onto his newfound role. I don’t know if that shot is a high percentage given all the other good arms the Cardinals have (Perez is a dynamo, although I’m now curious if they’re going to utilize him as a multi-inning reliever because he’s capable while others are not), but I’m saying there’s a chance ;)

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  7. PJ says:

    I would be more concerned with his 96% contact rates. Seems pretty odd for an alleged strikeout pitcher.

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  8. Whirling Darvish says:

    Eduardo Sanchez is the best option out of the Cardinals pen, particularly for the long haul. I can’t envision Boggs notching more than a handful of saves, nor retaining the gig for the remainder of the season. Also, don’t get caught holding Boggs when that ERA/WHIP bomb explodes…the correction will be quite painful.

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  9. Vision says:

    Boggs is a power who pitches to contact so to speak. Not a big K guy to this point. He also doesn’t have great control.

    Boggs is better as a ROOGY, and filling the earlier innings like Motte, but they don’t trust the young guy Eduardo Sanchez yet. From a pure statistical outlook, it might be better for the Cards to use Boggs as the traditional closer, while freeing up the best guy (Sanchez), for more high leverage spots earlier in the game.

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  10. Vision says:

    What are you referring to Tonio? They were up 5 runs yesterday, yes. They let Lohse close it out.

    They weren’t up 5 runs when Boggs got the save and Sanchez pitched two innings in relief.

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