Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Your 2019 YBNH Halligators' Breakdown—Part de V: Relief Pitching!

I was going to start this segment talking about how relief pitching is the one area where our beloved Hallies have actually done what it takes and built in the redundancy necessary to overcome the injuries that every executive outside of Coops Cashman realizes is an expected part of the long season.

(I was even going to resist making a sinister comment about how relievers usually come cheap, which probably accounts for why Hal prefers to fill up the roster with them the way bad restaurants keep foisting soft, moist bread on you so you won't notice the minuscule portions.  All right, I wasn't really going to resist.  But still.)

Then came today's news about Dellin Betances, and for once the problem isn't with the big guy's head but his inflamed shoulder.  Scratch one flat top, as they used to say in the Big One.

(Just an aside, but do other teams have as many spring training injuries—particularly to pitchers—as the Hallies have in the Coops era?  Again, I have no actual stats to back this observation, but it seems that most pitching injuries should come from fatigue, and occur later in the season.

(For our boys, it always seems to be the spring, which might just imply that something is wrong with the approach of our coaches and/or trainers.  I know, I know:  to question anything at all about our approach to the game is to offend Coops, and risk being cast into the outer darkness.  That must account for why the beat writers never do it.)

The Hallies still should have a strong pen, although that "should" now depends on more caveats than your average international trade deal.  All the press box talk about how this is one of the strongest bullpens, ever, is pure malarkey.  The Hallies' pen doesn't come close to that of the Last Dynasty teams in the Bronx, or the Nasty Boys in Cincinnati in 1990, or half-a-dozen other winners, and there are all kinds of ways it could go very wrong, very quick.

Aroldis Chapman looks to be back on track, which is great.  But let's face it:  he was never close to The Great One, seems to lack the general psychology of a closer—and, in fairness, was horribly betrayed by the coaches and trainers last year, which has also got to play with his mind.

When was the last time any closer had to signal from the mound that he was NOT okay?  Machine Gun, as you'll recall, had been visibly melting down out there, unable to control where he threw the ball.  Ma Boone, Rockhead, and the other geniuses in the dugout simply pretended not to notice.  Oy.
We can only hope the damage done to his knee will not make itself known again this year.

(There's also the fact that anyone who blasts a garage where his wife is hiding with a gun might just not be the most reliable personality to balance your season on.  But that's modern sports.)

At least behind Chappie there are Chad Green and Zack "The Pitcher Formerly Known as Zach" Britton, both of whom could conceivably fill in as closers.

But Green looked much more hittable last year than he had in his stellar 2017, his ERA going up from 1.83 to 2.50, and his velocity and strikeouts curving downwards.  He seemed much more hittable in general, and it will be interesting to see if the league has caught up to him.

Britton looked generally better the more he pitched for us last season and had an okay series against Boston in the playoffs.  He is a veteran with a strong track record already at 30, and bringing him back was a good idea.

The way the acquisition of "Mr. Zero," Adam Ottavino, was greeted by the Knights of the Press Box this offseason, one would have thought we had picked up a young Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage, all rolled into one.

Hey, the guy had a terrific season last year, no question.  But if you look at his career, it generally fits the common reliever pattern of one terrific season followed by a bad or injured one.  And while he has spent almost his entire career with Colorado, he actually did worse on the road, which is weird and concernful—considering that he now will pitch away from the azure mountains' majesty, full time.

(For extra credit, discuss among yourselves why it was that the zero originated separately in Mesopotamia and amongst the Mayans, but did not come to Europe until much later.  And what was it with all those clunky Roman numerals, anyway?  How the hell did they manage to conquer so much using a numerical system like that?  Did it confuse the enemy?  Inquiring minds want to know!)

Behind the Big Five, er, Four, there are some interesting lugnuts.  Tommy Kahnle has shown considerable signs of life after his mystery ailment wrecked 2018, and Stephen Tarpley made a nice debut late last year and has looked good again this spring.  Same goes for Jonathan Holder, and David Hale might be kinda okay again, sometimes.

Combine them with whoever is the odd starter out—Johnny Lasagna, Luis Cessa, etc.—and there should be enough to make up for even Dellin's loss.

But hey:  aren't you glad the Hallies gave David Robertson the boot, complete with a parting slap in the tabs about what a lousy guy he was?  Not like we could use Houdini this year, nosirree...

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