If you follow my ramblings across the Twitoblogosphere you may have realized that I’ve started to advocate a bit on the behalf of Rob Delaney. As Collette outlined yesterday HERE we’re basically down to Juan Cruz, Rob Delaney, and Cory Wade for our last right-handed bullpen spot. I hope to cover the other two at some point, but for now I want to focus on Delaney as I could see Cruz starting in AAA on the Benoit path and Wade to find employment serving up milkshakes somewhere about as well as he serves up dingers. I see this last spot being for a medium leverage guy that can get out both lefties and righties. What we’re looking for is high K/low BB and we don’t care quite as much about the longball as he probably won’t get much high leverage exposure.
Rob pitched with the Rochester Red Wings in 2010 the AAA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. He’s a 26 year old righty that was released by the Twins earlier in the off-season. You can find his basic stats HERE, but once again, I want to dig into the data over at Minor League Splits. Here’s a look at his standard splits broken out by whether the batter was right-handed or left-handed:
Minor League Standard
Since this doesn’t tell us a whole heck of a lot, lets take a look at some advanced numbers:
Minor League Advanced
That’s a little better. Starting with the totals you have to absolutely love those strikeout and walk figures against both types of batters. Keep in mind that as a Fastball/Slider guy you would think that lefties would have a bit of success off of him, but it does appear that in his one inning with the Twins last year that he did throw a change. Obviously, we can’t draw anything conclusive regarding the quality of the pitches from that sample, but it is nice to see that it’s in his arsenal and he threw it to big leaguers. In fact, it looks like Delaney has given up relatively more homers to righties both per plate appearance and per fly ball.
He doesn’t get a ton of ground balls against either type, so if the last spot is being reserved for a groundball-getter than you can probably count him out, but I think we’ll have that covered with Adam Russell. Now we can look at his FIP and xFIP numbers and just be blown away. You could have kind of guessed these were going to be strong if you understand how FIP works, but to see sub-3.00 FIP and sub-2.00 xFIP for the entirety of his minor league career is pretty sweet. It’s not only his fielding independent numbers, but when you look at his wOBA numbers you see that he has dominated batters throughout his minor league career, while showing off reasonable BABIP numbers.
Lastly, let’s take a look at his triple-slash numbers. You can see that Rob is absolutely filthy against same-handers, though he does tend to give up a little bit more power when righties get hits. He’s no slouch against lefties either as he still has a sub-.300 OBP while having a lower SLG. Basically, over his minor league lifetime, Rob Delaney has been one of the filthiest pitchers you can imagine. At this point you’re probably saying, “Well, what if he accrued all these ridiculous stats at lower levels and got shelled in AA and AAA?”
It’s a valid question, especially if you focus in on 2010 where you see he was his normal awesome sauce self against lefties, but wow, what happened against righties? His K and BB numbers were in line, but he gave up a HR in nearly 5% of plate appearances against righties. Much of this was due to a completely out of whack HR/FB of 18.6%. Keep in mind the normal starting pitcher is around 10.6% and Delaney’s own career line against righties was roughly 10%. He got even less ground balls than normal, but his wOBA and BABIP were an insane .375 and .398, respectively. This is manifested in his triple-slash of .306/.351/.525. Well jeez none of that is good, but you can see that even in 2009 at Rochester he was his generally dominant self against righties.
This is where scouting data or more Pitch F/x data could really come in handy, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that his 2010 numbers against righties are a bit of an outlier and should regress back to his larger sample of overall nastiness. Continuing down the path of separating out low-level success from his overall numbers, let’s take a look at the totals for his last three years where he has seen time with three different teams in A+, AA, and AAA:
Last Three Years Standard
Last Three Years Advanced
What we see again is a guy that doesn’t walk anybody while striking out the world. We can see the affect of his crazy 2010 against righties skewing the numbers a bit more, but you absolutely have to love his BA/OBP/wOBA numbers against. As a flyballer this makes sense as he’s going to be giving up less base hits, but for more bases when they do fall in, or clear the wall. Is the guy going to give up the occasional home-run? Sure, he’s kind of like Dan Wheeler, but with reverse-splits when it comes to those he likes to serve taters to. To me, this looks exactly like what we need in a guy that will mostly serve as a medium-leverage guy that can dominate both lefties and righties and may give up the occasional dinger. That means he’d be best starting either the 6th or 7th with a greater than one run lead. Obviously, that’s an ideal scenario, so you could also expect to see him in there in higher leverage or when we’re trailing, but not matter the scenario, I’d have a lot of faith in Rob Delaney getting us a bunch of cheap outs.
I would lay the pen out to start the year as:
Farnsworth: Hi Lev L/R +K
McGee: Hi Lev L/R +K
Peralta: Hi Lev R
Ramos: Hi Lev L
Russell: Med Lev L/R +GB
Delaney: Med Lev L/R
Sonnanstine: Low Lev Mop up
Cruz will probably need less than a month to show that he’s raring to go and J. P. Howell will hopefully be up and solid sometime in June. This gives us a month to evaluate who goes for Cruz. Maybe Delaney disappoints and he’s the guy that goes, but maybe that guy is Russell or Sonny or any of these other guys as they all have noticeable flaws. The beauty is that I fully trust Joe Maddon to make the correct moves and put these guys in position to succeed.