Monday, April 25, 2005

Derrick Turnbow: "Closer"

"I would say if we got a save situation in the ninth inning, Turnbow is going to be pitching." - Edgar Frederick Yost

Another managerial move was made by Ned Yost in San Fran, this one involving the "closer", or "guy who gets three outs with a three run lead", spot. Somewhat inexplicably to me, Mike Adams was yanked from 9th inning duty in favor of Turnbow. In my opinion, Adams has much better stuff, and hadn't even pitched poorly to this point in the season. In seven appearances, Adams has compiled an ERA of 4.05. The only discouraging development regarding the lanky one was his increased walk rate (6 BB/6.2 IP). Obviously, the small sample size alarm has to go off at some point, doesn't it? Six innings to determine that Adams has suddenly become John Rocker? I still think he is the best pitcher in the bullpen, and time will prove me right. If Melvin and Yost decided to use Adams as a Chad Bradford-type "relief ace", I'm all for it. However, if he is relegated to spot duty behind the likes of Ricky Bottalico and Tommy Phelps, I question the move. I remember joking after Turnbow picked up a save in spring training that maybe Melvin was going to drive up Turnbow's save total to the point that he was a "proven closer" and deal him off, a la Kolb. I may just be right.

Now, none of this is to rag on Derrick Turnbow. He has been highly effective out of a very good bullpen to this point, and likely will remain so. He has electric stuff, and probably the best fastball on the team. He will likely strike out close to or more than a batter an inning, and hitters have been lucky to even put the ball in play against him thus far. I'm not a believer in "makeup" or "a closer's mentality", so I think that with his stuff Turnbow will rack up a nice save total. Another excellent move by Doug Melvin, surprise, surprise. Let's take a look at how the bullpen should stack up:

LR - Obermueller (R), 2.25 ERA, 8 IP, 4 K/1 BB
MR - de la Rosa (L), 3.52 ERA, 7.2 IP, 10 K/7 BB
MR - Phelps (L), 8.44 ERA, 5.1 IP, 3 K/2 BB
MR - Bottalico (R), 3.68 ERA, 7.1 IP, 4 K/1 BB
MR - Wise (R), 0.96 ERA, 9.1 IP, 7 K/3 BB
SU - Adams (R), 4.05 ERA, 6.2 IP, 5 K/6 BB
CL - Turnbow (R), 2.08 ERA, 8.2 IP, 6 K/5 BB

The entire bullpen, outside of Phelps, has been extremely effective thus far. Even Obermueller, who gets a spot start tonight in place of Ben Sheets, has been good in light work, even though his inability to miss bats will likely doom him soon, like it always has. Phelps should really be replaced, even if it means calling up Jeff Bennett. Why this team has any use for a LOOGY who can't get lefties out is beyond me. However, I call a small sample foul on myself, as he has pitched to an ERA under 2.50 in his relief outings over his career. Even so, I would prefer to see the meaningful left-handed outs recorded by de la Rosa, who has the best raw stuff in the pen. Nonetheless, the bullpen is beginning to emerge as a strength, an likely will continue to be once Phelps is replaced by either Jeff Bennett or Justin Lehr.

I'd consider Julio Santana another possibility. 10 IP 13 K/4BB and a 1.80 ERA to go along with 2 wins.

If I remember correctly, he had good peripherals in spring training too.
Sorry Brew, had to take the player of the game feature while you're in your posting slump.
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