Saturday, March 8, 2008

Position Battles: Left Handed Set Up Man

After the departure of George Sherrill in the Erik Bedard trade, the Mariners are without a left handed set up man to closer JJ Putz, something the George Sherrill did an excellent job doing last season. There are a few contenders for this job, but all from the organization.

Eric O'Flaherty spent most of last season with the Mariners in mostly a mid-relief role. He is believed tobe one of the best contenders for the left handed setup man this year. O'Flaherty pitched in 52.1 innings in '07, sporting a 4.47 ERA, with 20 walks and 36 strikeouts. He gave up only one home run, and 45 hits. His 1.24 WHIP is probably his best statistic, and in my opinion, is one of the most important stats for a setup man. The 20 BB will probably go down a little bit, now that he has got a few innings under his belt, and maybe his 36 K's will go up too. For O'Flaherty, there is almost nowhere to go but up. He looks to be one of the biggest contenders for this job. So far this Spring, O'Flaherty has given up only one hit in 2 IP.

Cesar Jimenez appears to be one of the longer shots for this job. In 2007, he had 25.2 IP with the Rainers with a 3.51 ERA. He gave up 28 hits, only 2 homeruns, 12 BB, and 23 K's. His WHIP was 1.56. I like the fact that this guy can strikeout his share of betters, but I dislike the numbers of hits and walks he gave up. Only 2 HR's in 25.2 IP, is good, but Eric O'Flaherty's 1 HR in 52.1 IP is better. Once he gets the hits and walks down to about a 1-1.40 WHIP, then we will start to notice this guy more. He'll probably spend another season at AAA to imprive his control, which will bring down the walks and hits, making him a better pitcher for potentially the 2009 season. This Spring he has gotten 2 IP, giving up only one hit, but he has a save.

I really like Ryan Feierabend, but as a starter. Like Brandon Morrow, everyone could fall in love with him as a setup man, and then the next season complain about how he isn't in the rotation. He was 6-4 with a 3.99 ERA in 108.1 IP, primarily as a starter. He had 70 K's, 33 BB, 9 HR, and 131 hits, for a WHIP of 1.95. His HR rate per nine innings is pretty good at 1.82. I don're really like most of his other stats per nine (H9 13.32, BB9 4.20, K9 4.93). I guess his strikeout rate is alright, but the hits and walks needs to go down. Like I've said for te last couple of guys, WHIP can be a pretty big factor for a reliever trying to make it. He got 49.1 IP with the Mariners last season, but had a 1-6 record, with a terrible 8.03 ERA. I can't remember how he got his IP in the Bigs last season. I wouldn't be surprised if this guy makes the team, he could also be in a long relief role. This Spring he has an ERA of 2.25 in 4 IP, giving up four hits and one earned run.

Ryan Rowland-Smith is another in-house candidate that could make this spot. In 41.2 IP with Tacoma, he had a 3-4 record with a 3.67 ERA. He had 50 K's over that span. With the Mariners last season, he got 38.2 IP, and had a 1-0 record with a 3.96 ERA. His strikeouts continued, with 42 in the majors. His WHIP was 1.40 with the M's. He looks to be one of the top contenders for this gig, based on what he has already done in the majors. This Spring, he is 0-1 in 3.2 IP with an ERA of 0.00, and has given up four hits and one unearned run.

My pick for he left handed setup man job will be either Rowland-Smith, or O'Flaherty, mostly because of the two's prior expierience. They both look good. Maybe they switch in or out at some point in the season. Your pick(s)? Also, any other position battles that you want done?

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