So we essentially already know what our '10 bullpen is going to look like. The question is, how can we expect these guys to perform next season?
First thing: Keep in mind the average RP arm is basically a 4.10ish ERA guy.
Who all is competing? Right now we know:
Matt Lindstrom (Either 1 option or out of options)
Leo Nunez (Out of options)
Brian Sanches (Out of options)
Dan Meyer (Out of options)
Renyel Pinto (Out of options)
Rick VandenHurk (Out of options)
Burke Badenhop (1 option left but very effective)
A bullpen consists of 7 relievers, normally two of which are lefties. That above is 7 relievers, two of which are lefties. However, Pinto may be traded (Hunter Jones, Taylor Tankersley, and Jay Voss (long shot) would likely compete for the last spot), as well as one or both of Lindstrom and Nunez. For those two, in the minors we have Tim Wood, Ryan Tucker, Chris Leroux, Christhian Martinez, Jay Buente, Hayden Penn, Brett Sinkbeil, Garrett Parcell, and Kris Harvey [Roughly in order of what I'd assume the likeliness being they make the team].
I'm going to focus on the 7 above "locks", plus Tim Wood, who is the only one out of that group who has somewhat of a ML sample size and the probable favorite to replace an arm next season.
There's a lot to support that Sanches won't repeat his 2.56 ERA from this past season, and not just that fact that he's been a MILB journeyman. He finished the season with a FIP of 4.14, and very much less impressively an xFIP of 4.66.
One of the main problems was his BB/9; he finished the season with a 4.15 BB/9 and his MLB career walk rate now sits at 4.88 (Average is normally around 3.5). This is quite the far cry from his minor league numbers, where he's put up a 2.47 BB/9 since he was converted into a reliever back in 2004.
However, one of the more staggering numbers is his intentional walks given up. He led the team in IBB, which includes starting pitchers, while only pitching 56 innings.
Considering IBB's aren't a proper explanation of a players control, if we take that out from his BB rate, his BB/9 drops to a nice 2.89, a lot more around what to expect based off his MILB track record.
For his K rate, he finished with a 8.15 K/9 and now has a career rate of 8.01. So this will probably transfer over again.
His HR rates, however, are another matter. He gave up a FB exactly half the time, a staggering rate. His HR/FB of 6.2% is quite a drop in what to expect, and is why his xFIP is so high. xFIP called for him to give up 3 more HRs, or 1.28 HR/9.
So without a doubt, Sanches is not without his issues. He's the typical FB pitcher that is able to get by because of a good K/BB, but will never be great because of the HRs given up (You'll notice this will be a trend for our bullpen).
There is one thing though, as his MILB FB% since 2005 with just 40.3%, and his MLB career rate now sits at 45.9%. If we assume he's more around the mid 40's, this would have dropped his expected HR/9 from last season down to 1.12, a lot more respectable number (Average is normally around 1).
So if say next season he can put up a 8 k/9, a 3 BB/9, and a 1.15 HR/9, this would put him at a 4.08 FIP, or exactly league average. So, especially considering the fact he's cost controlled for two more seasons as well as the fact he can eat up multiple innings, he'll be a nice valuable reliever. There's certainly some cause for concern, especially with his HR and FB rates, but he was a nice pick up by the FO.
Basically the LHP version of Sanches.
His 3.09 final ERA was very nice, and his FIP of 3.87 showed that he pitched well. He also wasn't particularly beneficial of the HR, as his xFIP was just 4.14. However, his FB rate was still a massive 48.1%, and his HR/9 rate will likely continue to be in the 1.1-1.2 range.
There's also a pretty big concern about his BB rates. While he finished the season with an above average rate of 3.24, it was 4.30 in the second half. And considering that he is inside the strike zone at a league average rate, and gets swings outside the strike zone at a below average rate, well, he's probably closer to the 4.30 number than the 3.24 number.
We can simply call him league average though, which is about 3.50, but there is certainly a "Proceed with caution" sign attached to it. And his K-rate of 8.64 was very impressive, and only got better as the season progressed.
So even with a bump in BB and HR rates, his K rates should still perform at a good level, which again put him at around an average reliever. If we put him down for 8.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, and 1.15 HR/9, this puts him at a 4.14 FIP.
Want to talk HR problems? The biggest issue in Nunez's career came in full force last season. His 5.17 FIP was just horrible, though his 4.32 xFIP is a lot more caring. His FB rate was roughly his career rate (43%) but his HR/FB rocketed all the way to 15.1%. If he's able to fall back down towards his career rate of 10.9%, there's a lot more to like.
There's also a lot more to like about a dropping HR rate: more strike outs. While his career HR/9 sits at 1.34, his career K rate sits at 6.4. A guy always labeled to have good "stuff", it finally came to fuition this past season as he threw his change up more and his K rate rose to 7.86. It's simple: You strike out more players, less balls in play, less chance of a ball leaving the park.
If he's able to be an 8 K/9 guy, his career HR/9 rate would drop to a 1.26 rate. Still bad, but still an improvement.
However, with that increase change up usage came a drop in control, at his BB/9 rose to 3.54 while before this season it sat at 2.71. Part of that had to do with more than doubling his career IBB rates, but his uIBB% still rose as well, from 6.4% the previous 4 seasons to 7.59% this past season. So his BB rates should certainly lower from this past season, but will still likely be higher than his career rate. He'll probably be around a 3 BB/9.
So if we say 8 k/9, 3 BB/9, and a 1.26 HR/9, it still puts him at just a 4.24 FIP. Entering his first year of arbitration, the Marlins are likely better off trading him this off season while he's still considered a "young live arm", as well as having racked up 26 saves.
One of the main things to understand about Lindstrom's numbers this past season: He was injured in the WBC and never really fully healed, which really showed in his control. His BB/9 jumped to a whopping 4.56, while his career rate currently sits at 3.72, which is likely a lot closer to Lindstorm's true talent level.
You also know more or less what you're getting in his K rate: last season he finished with a 7.42 rate, while his career rate sits at 7.55.
One of the things that he has really benefited from though his HRs. He gave up a total of 3 in 07-08 combined. That number nearly tripled this past season (5), but that's also probably more around what to expect, with a 9.3 HR/FB rate this past season. However, he still gets GB's a decent rate, and a HR/9 of around 0.85 is probably about what to expect.
So if we say he's a 7.5 K/9, 3.75 BB/9, and 0.85 HR/9, that puts him at a 4.01 FIP.
One cause of concern though: Lindstrom's lowest BABIP in a season is .321, and his carer rate now sits at .332. He has only pitched 171.7 IP, but he also had a career LD% against of 19.7. If this is a trend that continues, that's means he's going to constantly perform above what his FIP would tell us.
What an average name for what an average talent.
He hasn't pitched anywhere close enough in the majors to really get a grasp on him, but at the same time he's pitched basically what you'd have expected from the minors. What's interesting, thanks to Stat Corner, is put side by side his AAA numbers to his MLB numbers.
K swinging%: 18.2%/16.5%
K looking%: 2.84%/0% (Not a single K looking at the major league level)
Unintentional BB%: 8.52%/9.28%
So far, he's basically been able to translate from the MILB to the MLB. Will that stay? Can't say until he has more experience.
But for now, if we say he's able to be a average/slightly below average talent at striking hitters out, a average/slightly below average talent at walking hitters, and an above average talent at prevent HRs and XBH, well, we have an average to slightly above average RP.
Penciling him in for a 6.75 K/9, 3.75 BB/9, and 0.8 HR/9 puts him at a 4.11 FIP, and there's certainly room to grow in the K/BB. I especially think he can hit the generally-mandatory 2 K/BB ratio.
Pinto is a real interesting case. His career FIP is a horrid 4.77 thanks to his abysmal BB/9 of 6. However, his career ERA in 214 innings is 3.70. This is thanks to a great strand rate (78.5%, average is normally around 70%), which itself is helped by a good BABIP (.270). And it's not without warrant, his career LD% against is just 16.7%.
He does strike out batters at an above average rate (Career 8.65), and gives up HR's at a league average rate (0.97), but his BB rate is just not acceptable. Since 2006, no pitcher who has pitched at least 150 combined innings has a higher BB/9. Not even Carlos Marmol, who is second at 5.85. Marmol though is also a similar case,where he's gotten by thanks to a high K rate, strand rate, and low BABIP and LD rates. Will these guys be able to sustain their good ERA numbers? It'll be interesting to see.
For now, there's only two things we know: The numbers say he's going to come crashing down, but at the same time he's still been able to get by.
Badenhop gives us one major question: how does a sinkerball pitcher with sub-par stuff go from having a MILB K rate of 6.1 to having a K rate as a reliever of 7.3?
Well, there's one answer: Players struck out looking a massive 7.9% of the time against him. So his stuff was still sub-par, hitters just weren't swinging (Swingers swung at balls 41% of the time against him this past season. League average is 45%, or about 50 more swings).
If we drop his K looking% down to a more respectable 5%, his K/9 drops to a more expected 6.2.
That's not to bash on the Hopper though. His unintentional BB/9 was a terrific 2.07 as a reliever, and his 53% GB rate was 13th in the NL. He's still not going to walk people, he's still not going to give up many HRs.
If we put him down for a 6.25 K/9, 2.25 BB/9,and 0.75 HR/9, we're still talking about a 3.64 FIP for him. His conversion as a mop-up reliever to higher leverage situations should continue into next season, as he could end up being our best reliever next season after being our second best this past season (Behind Kiko Calero).
Rick Vanden Hurk
Nothing has been said yet of converting him to a BP arm yet, but considering he's 1) out of options, 2) does not go deep into games, and 3) we have a full rotation already, he's likely starting point next year is the bullpen.
What can we expect? It's hard to say when all he's done so far is start.
What we do know: He gives up a massive amount of FBs and a massive amount of HRs. His MLB FB% sits at 47.9%, HR/FB at 12.4%, and HR/9 at 1.57. You certainly hope these drop as a reliever, but we're still talking of hoping he becomes a 1.2-1.3 HR/9 guy.
What we do know: His new slider that he learned in the WBC from Bert Blyleven has really improved his control, although is did also hurt his K rate. He finished with just a 7.52 K/9 (9.6 K/9 previously), but just a 3.22 BB/9 (5.5 previously).
Again it's hard to say what we can really expect with him moving to the bullpen, but if we call him at 7.75 K/9, 3 BB/9, 1.25 HR/9, that basically makes him Leo Nunez. You really hope that the K rates can sky-rocket to their previous level while keeping his great walk rates, and you really hope something gets done about those HRs, but for now its hard to project anything more than an average reliever.
However, he certainly has major break out potential, and could finish the season closing out games.
to sum it up
sh*t ton of average arms, with a major need of Tucker/Ceda/possibly Leroux to really put it together and come up and an ace reliever.