Friday, May 14, 2010

Pirates Bullpen - the Meek shall inherit the closer's job

Is it strange that I am comforted once the Pirates' starter goes OUT of the game? Anyone else?
For all of the kvetching in the off-season about the Pirates (gasp) spending money on a portion of the team, the bullpen, it appears to have been a good investment.

Aside from an inning or two in a blowout game (yes...I know those count), Hanrahan and Dotel have been very solid, Hanrahan bordering on dominant. But one pitcher is not bordering on dominant, he IS dominant and that's Evan Meek.

Evan Meek was NH's first foray into the Rule 5 draft...the unwashed masses from another team's farm system....available to all in a draft order for a mere $50,000. His 2008, the season where you attempt to do everything you can to hide a Rule 5 guy including phantom trips to the DL, was atrocious.

2008 6.92 ERA/1.77 WHIP, 13 IP, 4.85 K/9, 8.31 BB/9, .231 BAA -- (91.2 mph FB)

He didn't trust his stuff. In 2009, he went to the minors and came back for an encore. It was very encouraging, a nice progression....

2009 3.45 ERA/1.34 WHIP, 47 IP, 8.04 K/9, 5.55 BB/9, .204 BAA -- (93.2 mph FB)

He improved and, hey maybe, he could be a nice setup guy one day. The walks were still a little troubling and his velocity was quite what it was made out to be pre-Rule 5. And then 2010 started....

2010 0.82 ERA/0.95 WHIP, 22 IP, 9.00 K/9, 2.45 BB/9, .195 BAA -- (94.7 mph FB)

The walks have been drastically cut down in his three seasons and his fastball has increased dramatically. Even better this year has been his curveball....Fangraphs has it as his best pitch, tracking at 4.77 wins above average for every 100 thrown. That's rarified air for a pitch. Consider that Tim Lincecum's changeup is the highest rated at 5.67 wins/100.

I love Meek, Hanrahan, Dotel as the 7th, 8th, 9th inning guys, but I would love to see the order reversed to Dotel, Hanrahan, and Meek by the end of the year. Perhaps in 2011, even if Dotel's option is picked up, that will be the case.

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