This week Beyond Busch will cover the bullpens of the teams in the National League Central and then provide a brief snippet for each of the remaining MLB teams.
The Chicago Cubs have one of the more electric closers in Carlos Marmol. Unfortunately, he is also one of the more erratic closers in the game. Marmol has the potential to come into a game and shut down a team with Ks, but also has the ability to load the bases just as easily, leading to more blown saves than a manager wants to deal with. It will be interesting to see how new manager Dale Sveum treats Marmol’s capacity for the dramatic. Leading up to Marmol the Cubs signed veteran reliever Kerry Wood and Jeff Samardzija is still in the mix. Wood has been very effective in the eight inning role and would likely fill in for Marmol when needed.
The Reds went through a bit of a transformation in the bullpen this offseason. They waited for the market to soften on closers and signed former Philadelphia Phillies closer Ryan Madson to a one-year $8.5 million deal to replace Francisco Cordero. The Reds swung a trade with the Cubs for set-up man Sean Marshall, one of the top lefty relievers in the NL. The Reds are looking to move Aroldis Chapman from the pen to the rotation this season which creates a void for the high octane pitcher. We’ll have to see if Chapman can handle starting, and if not he could very well end up back in the bullpen, where he had flourishes of brilliance.
The Houston Astros are in a state of rebuilding so it should not come as a surprise that their bullpen situation is, well, suspect. Brandon Lyon had surgery for a detached biceps tendon and a torn labrum last June which leaves a question mark about his abilities to come back from these surgeries strong in 2012. Lyon was not a shutdown closer prior to the injuries. The next man in line seems to be Wilton Lopez. Lopez throws in the low 90′s so he also does not profile as a closer, but he has been largely effective the last two seasons with the Astros. To his credit he has very good control, only walking 23 batters in 137 innings from 2010 to 2011.
The Brewers may have the best closer in the Central in John Axford and a very effective former closer being used in the eighth inning role in Francisco Rodriguez. Axford has saved 70 games since being installed permanently as the Brewers’ closer in 2010. He has a career strikeout rate of 11.05 per nine innings pitched. However, similarly to Marmol, he walks too many guys (3.75 BB/9) for his career. With Rodriguez backing him, the Brewers have a fantastic back end of the pen.
The Pirates have a nice bullpen set-up headed by closer Joel Hanrahan. Hanrahan, an all-star in 2011, is backed by Evan Meek, who has the ability to close games if needed. Meek was limited by injuries in 2011, but has been very consistent in the set-up role for the Pirates since 2010. Jason Grilli sits behind Meek. Grilli threw 32 innings in 2011 and was productive in doing so, posting a 2.48 ERA with a 10.19 K/9 ratio.
Here are notes on the remaining MLB bullpens.
San Diego Padres – Street goes from Coors Field to Petco; a pitcher can’t ask for a better move
Next week we will check in on the projected lineups for the Cardinals’ NL Central foes.
Topics: Aroldis Chapman, Brandon Lyon, Cardinals, Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Francisco Cordero, Franciso Rodriguez, Houston Astros, Joel Hanrahan, John Axford, Kerry Wood, Milwaukee Brewers, NL Central, Pittsburgh Pirates, Ryan Madson, Sean Marshall, St Louis Cardinals, Wilton Lopez