Last week New York Yankee manager Joe Girardi said he prefers to have a second left handed relief pitcher in the bullpen. His reasoning is simple: Girardi does not want to be without a LOOGY in case David Ortiz, Carlos Pena, Justin Morneau or God forbid, Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon comes up in an important situation late in a game.
Shouldn’t that LOOGY role be for Damaso Marte?
With his multi-year, multi-million dollar contract through 2011, Damaso Marte is about as good a lock for the Yankees bullpen as Mariano Rivera. After being injured for most of the 2009 season, Marte was ineffective during the regular season when he was pitching. Resurrecting his best Graeme Lloyd impression, Marte eventually earned every dollar he made last year with a superb post season.
Girardi wants to add to the Marte perfection, but why would Girardi choose another lefty for the pen? A lefty who will throw maybe 25 innings total, one batter per game over about 75 appearances?
The two main candidates for this second LOOGY role are Boone Logan and Royce Ring.
Are the Yankees and Girardi serious? Boone Logan? Royce Ring?
Ring has not pitched in the majors since 2008 and did not have success last year in AAA against that level of talent. How would anyone think he can still get out lefties in the major leagues?
And Logan is really not much better.
In fact, the Yankees have several pitchers projected to be in their 2010 bullpen who have better numbers against lefties than either Ring or Logan.
Alfredo Aceves and David Robertson both had better numbers than the two journeymen left handed relievers under consideration. Two guys who did not even make the Yankees roster out of spring training last season finished as aces out of the pen, key contributors to a World Series title.
What K-Rob and Aceves did was mix in their secondary pitches well. K-Rob used his devastating curveball and Aceves used his amazing change of speeds to continuously fool left handed hitters. Aceves is amazing in that he is not afraid to throw any of five pitches in any count.
Here are the numbers against left handed hitters for the fantastic four:
Aceves 161 PA, 32 H, 5 2B, 3 HR, 8 BB, 33 SO, 4.13 K/BB, .212/.255/.305/.559 OPS
K-Rob 83 PA, 14 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 9 BB, 30 SO, 3.33 K/BB, .189/.277/.324/.601 OPS
Logan 44 PA, 9 H, 3 2B, 0 HR, 4 BB, 7 SO, 1.75 K/BB, .231/.318/.308/.626 OPS
Ring (08) 61 PA, 14 H, 4 2B, 1 HR, 5 BB, 13 SO, 2.60 K/BB, .264/.339/.396/.735 OPS
Eyre 67 PA, 13 H, 3 2B, 2 HR, 5 BB, 12 SO, 2.40 K/BB, .210/.269/.355/.623 OPS
I added Scott Eyre, another lefty specialist who pitched last season for the Philadelphia Phillies, who is supposedly retired, but has been mentioned by some as another lefty option.
Why would anyone even think that a Boone Logan or Royce Ring is a better option than Aceves or Robertson? Both of those RHP Yankees had better numbers last season against LH hitters than the LOOGY guys written about in this piece.
And both guys can get out RH hitters, too. It eliminates the need for extra pitching changes. I would do what the Yankees with their relievers in the minor leagues. Go with one of your guys (Ace, K-Rob, Chan-Ho Park, Melancon) and leave them in for 1+ to 2 IP an appearance (unless of course they start getting hit).
In the minor leagues, the Yankees have developed the multiple inning reliever. That saves pitchers in times they have to get up and throw, saving overall wear and tear, spreading the appearances out. Once a reliever is in the game and being effective, leave them in.
The 2010 Yankee starters (CC, AJ, Andy and Javy) went at least 6 innings in 80% of their starts last season. They went at least six full and one out into the 7th in 62.5% of the starts.
Lets just say some guys get their wish and Joba goes to the pen for most of the year, and is crowned the 8th inning guy.
You men to tell me that Robertson, Aceves, Park, Melancon and Joba can’t get 4 or 5 outs (mixing in Marte for a batter) in the games they need to be in there for 2+ innings during the 37.5% of the games that the starter only goes 6+?
There is your supposed bridge to Mariano.
Even though Ring and Logan each have had a really good appearance so far this spring, they were mostly facing AAA and AA guys. Guys hitting in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings of the spring are far different from the major league All-Stars in the American League lineups during the regular season.