There’s a lot to be said on how valuable relief pitchers are or are not. A baseball tradionalist would say that closers are monumentally important, specifically because of the psychological advantage a shutdown closer provides. I think there’s an argument for that which is valid. On the other hand, closers and relief pitchers simply don’t pitch enough innings to have the impact that a great starter will on a team and a season. Granted, their innings are often in more highly leveraged situations. Another problem, of course, is that managers don’t exactly use their relievers in the most efficient way. It’s probably a better situation to bring in your best reliever – your closer – in a tight situation with a one run lead or a tie game in the 7th or 8th than it is to bring him in for the 9th with a three run lead. But, that’s how they are used largely because of the save statistic. But they’re important. How important? That’s certainly a topic that’s up for debate. Regardless of all this, the point of this post is a riddle. Who is Pitcher B?
2009: 66.1 IP, 72 K, 12 BB, 7 HR, 9.77 K/9, 1.63 BB/9, .95 HR/9, 51.2 GB%, 1.76 ERA, 2.89 FIP, 2.0 WAR
2010: 50.2 IP, 41 K, 9 BB, 1 HR, 7.28 K/9, 1.60 BB/9, .18 HR/9, 54.1 GB%, 1.07 ERA, 2.45 FIP, 1.6 WAR
2009: 72.1 IP, 83 K, 27 BB, 3 HR, 10.33 K/9, 3.36 BB/9, .37 HR/9, 45.9 GB%, 2.74 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 2.4 WAR
2010: 63.1 IP, 80 K, 23 BB, 2 HR, 11.37 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, .28 HR/9, 47.2 GB%, 1.85 ERA, 2.13 FIP, 2.4 WAR
Pitcher A is Mariano Rivera. Despite his advanced age, he is still considered one of the best closers in all of baseball. His strikeout numbers have dropped considerably in 2010 but he’s still doing most of what he’s always done best. He walks very few batters, strikes out a good number of them and limits the long ball. Rivera is the greatest reliever that has ever lived, regardless of the fact that he’s trailing Hoffman in saves. He may not still be in his prime but he’s still pitching like an elite closer in his prime.