Friday, June 10, 2005

Better Than Nothing 

It took a "subpar" performance by Javier Vazquez (the man walked 3 -- send him to Tucson!), good relief outings by Cormier and Lopez, and another high-wire act by Brian Bruney, but the Diamondbacks once again avoided a series sweep by beating the Minnesota Twins Thursday night 4-3.

I didn't see the game, so I'm moving on to the big news of the day -- the optioning of righty reliever Mike Koplove to Tucson and the recall of righty pitcher Edgar Gonzalez.

I'm not terribly enthused by this move for two reasons:
1) Koplove's been one of the few effective relievers, albeit erratically, in the pen, and
2) When he hasn't been effective is when he's been used in ways other than his strengths.

Diamondback relievers with positive VORPs: Lance Cormier, Mike Koplove, and Brandon Lyon
Diamonback relievers with negative VORPs still on the team (not injured): Bruney, Valverde, Lopez, and Vargas. Edgar Gonzalez doesn't have any major league VORP this year.

I guess it's the devil you don't know in this case -- Bruney and Valverde have been even more ineffective as closers (and, in Valverde's case, as setup guy), but I can see the logic for keeping two closers. Lopez is a LOOGY. Vargas' and Gonzalez' performance on the major league level is pretty much a mystery, but the Diamondbacks somehow feel better taking their chances on them. If it were me, I'd keep Koplove.

"This is a guy we really envisioned being basically our setup guy and we feel like we need him to get to where we want to go," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. The problem is, Koplove's bad performances have been when they haven't used him as a setup guy -- that is, when they've brought him with runners already on base.

Koplove's near the bottom of the league standings in Adjusted Runs Prevented. Thus far he's given up more runs than expected given the runners on base when he takes the mound.

Leading off an inning (7 2/3 IP, or 23 games), he has a WHIP of 1.17 and a ERA of 3.52. With bases empty (17 1/3 IP), a WHIP of 1.33 and ERA of 2.08. With base runners (his other 14 2/3 IP), he's got a WHIP of 1.57 and an ERA of 8.59.

And, here's the worst part. This is admittedly small sample size, but it's true. As best as I can tell, Koplove has come into a game with men on base 6 times (April 13, 17, 19; May 9; June 2 and 7). In those 6 appearances, he's pitched a total of 4 innings. In those 4 innings, he's given up 7 hits and 4 walks, for a WHIP of 2.75. In the other 28 innings, he's got a WHIP of 1.25. The numbers would be even more skewed if I took out the second (full) inning he pitched on June 2 after getting out of the first inning he pitched.

And maybe the small sample size is the reason for Koplove's demotion -- we remember the worst-case scenarios that come true and don't remember the times he's come in, pitched a scoreless inning, and left. He's done that 15 innings in 13 appearances.

He'll be back. Because I don't think the bullpen is any better with him gone.


In Rotation, June 10, '05

Uncle Tupelo - Anodyne
U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Pete Yorn - musicforthemorningafter
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Futureheads - Futureheads


That's all I've got. Go Diamondbacks!

go diamonbacks
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