I’m all for minutia. I’m all for 10,000-word tomes on Ryan Rohlinger vs. Matt Downs. I’m all for a fourteen-part historical retrospective on Giants catchers and their walkup songs ("Part I: Brent Mayne and ‘Shakedown Street’... Part II: Tom Lampkin and ‘Rooster’...") But, good gravy, I’m not crazy enough to do a community projection on each individual reliever.
Well, I used to be. But I’ve grown. This year around, let’s just do a simple roll call. Which relievers will do better, and which will do worse?
Yeah, let’s just get the easy one out of the way first. Everybody loves Affeldt. He seems pleasantly goofy, and he endeared himself to the fanbase by getting out of every single freaking jam he was thrown into. That viscous fluid leaking out of his pores: liquid double plays.
There’s no way he’s going to be that good again, though, especially if he continues to walk four-and-a-half batters for every nine innings he pitches. He was more than a little lucky last year. So he’s a decline, but still a good and valuable member of the bullpen.
Romo is an improve every season until he’s the best reliever in baseball. He’s just that cool. He was hurt at the start of last season -- maybe due to pitching a combined 12,031 innings between the majors, minors, winter leagues, equinox leagues, Rock ‘n’ Jock Celebrity Softball Challenges, and ‘50s-style Brooklyn stickball games -- but he’s ostensibly healthy this spring.
After giving up a combined six earned runs in back-to-back appearances toward the end of July, Romo’s ERA was at 6.59. A lot of managers would have buried him in the back of the bullpen as a knee-jerk reaction. So a lot of credit goes to Bruce Bochy for continuing to let Romo pitch the late innings. After the struggles, Romo pitched 20 innings of 2.21 ERA ball, with 24 strikeouts and six walks. And, yes, I need to defrag my computer every time I type "a lot of credit goes to Bruce Bochy."
Medders wasn’t quite as good as Affeldt, and he wasn’t quite as lucky, but the same caveats apply. Medders has a really nice curve -- if he had a little more movement or velocity on his fastball, he could become something more than a sixth-inning type. And if Eugenio Velez had hitting skills, he’d be Tim Raines. Still, while Medders gets a decline projection, he’s still a good reliever to have. After Brandons Puffer and Villafuerte, Sabean finally scored with a productive scrap-heap Brandon.
I predict that Runzler will give up more than .46 runs in professional baseball this year, so he gets a decline by default. But have you seen his stats so far this spring? Twelve strikeouts in 6.1 innings, with three hits and three walks allowed. He’s really, really good at making A-ball goofs swing and miss, and he’s probably the unknown on the team that I’m most excited to watch.
I don’t know how to massage the Baseball Reference and FanGraph databases quite as well as I thought. My goal was to prove that Wilson pitched in 3,233 full-count situations last season, and then I was going to prove this was a historical anomaly, which would then suggest that Wilson is more likely to put away hitters in two-strike situations rather than go to a full count this season. I can’t back this up with data, so I’ll just assume it’s true. Science!
Wilson might have been the most underrated player on the team last year, especially in the second half. I’m going to go with a cautious improve.
Comment starter: Your projections for the five expected cogs in the bullpen.