Well, that was ugly.
That was really, really ugly – and I didn’t even watch it.
For once I am thankful for a late night game on a weekday, because it prevented me from seeing with my own eyes the disaster that is Francisco “CoCo” Cordero.
Entrusted with a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth, Cordero allowed 5 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks to blow his third consecutive save opportunity. He is now 2 / 5 in save chances.
The rest of his stats are just as brutal. Cordero is sporting a 9.53 ERA. Only Freddy Garcia has a higher ERA in the American League for pitchers with at least 10 IP. In terms of relief pitchers, Cordero is the worst. Second worst is Matt Maloney from Minnesota, with an ERA of 8.18. When it comes to WHIP, his 2.29 number is by far the worst in the AL. He is also allowing a staggering and bewildering 15.9 hits per nine innings.
There are other relievers who are having bad seasons in the AL. The afforementioned Maloney is awful. Somebody named Adam Wilk on Detroit has an 8.18 ERA, 2.18 WHIP, and 17.2 H/9 in 11 IP.
But there is a huge, huge difference between them and CoCo. Those two aren’t trusted with closing out games. For Toronto to continue to give the ball to the worst reliever in the American League (statistically speaking) would be ludicrous.
We can continue to complain about Cordero, but in reality it isn’t much of a surprise. Getting Blanked offers some insight into the blatant warning signs he showed last year in Cincinnati. And to be fair, he wasn’t brought to Toronto to close games. But still – enough is enough.
So what is the next move then? If the Blue Jays find themselves wtih a one run lead this afternoon, who should they call? With Sergio Santos not expected back for at least a few more weeks, the ball will have to be handed to somebody else – but who?
It has been said time and again that going with a closer-by-committee doesn’t work, but I can’t see why not. The save stat is a meaningless, made up number that adds no value to the game. All it does is force managers to structure their bullpens into rigid roles basically tying their hands. Three run lead or less in the ninth? He HAS to call on the closer, even if the closer has been awful. After all – that’s what the closer is paid for.
Someday, one team will eschew that belief. Just like Oakland revolutionized stats in the Moneyball era, just like Tampa is revolutionizing how to build a team for cheap today, one team will revolutionize the bullpen in the closer era. So why not the Blue Jays now? We have at least a few weeks to experiment, and if it doesn’t work then Santos will be back to reclaim his spot.
Let’s get back to the question of who. Sorting by performance in the past 7 days, we find that Toronto’s best reliever has been Jason Frasor: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 0.86 WHIP, 0.00 ERA, .143 opponents average. That looks pretty good.
Think looking at the past 7 days is too shallow? Let’s expand the sample to the past 14 days. The top reliever then becomes Carlos Villanueva: 4.1 IP, 4 K, 0.69 WHIP, 0.00 ERA. Again – pretty good.
So there you go – instead of using the “closer”, use the hot hand.
Because if there’s one thing that’s obvious it’s this:
The current situation isn’t working.
CoCo is not the answer.