Quick, guess these two players (all stats current entering play Wednesday night):
Player A: 49.1% K%, 8% BB%, 6.15 K/BB 1.28 FIP, 14 saves, 4 blown saves
Player B: 29.0% K% , 5.3% BB%, 5.50 K/BB, 2.43 FIP, 9 saves, 3 blown saves
Player A is easy, as the strikeout rate alone gives him away as none other than Aroldis Chapman. The second player, however, is his primary setup man and predecessor as Reds’ closer, Sean Marshall. There’s no question that Chapman’s numbers are better thanks to his ridiculous ability to strike batters out, but taken on their own Marshall’s numbers are excellent as well, especially the strikeout to walk ratio. You would think that such a combination would create the impression of a formidable duo at the end of games, and yet Marshall is severely overlooked for the work he’s done in relief for the Reds this season. Part of that is because he’s overshadowed by Chapman and his blazing fastball, but another part of it seems to be that Marshall’s performance is being under-appreciated to a shocking degree. As Chad noted in his recap Tuesday night, even Dusty Baker doesn’t seem to appreciate how good Marshall has been for him out of the bullpen this year.
As with most of Dusty’s idiosyncrasies, I can’t figure out what, exactly, he has againstÃ‚Â Marshall, but whatever it is it started pretty much from day one in 2012. Remember that Baker waited until more or less the last possible moment to declare Marshall the team’s closer when Ryan Madson went down with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, even though he was the next guy on the depth chart and had proven himself to be one of the National League’s best relief pitchers in recent years. Ostensibly that was because he didn’t have “closer experience,” but that excuse doesn’t begin to hold water (which, to be “fair,” in no way means that Dusty didn’t honestly believe it anyway). Then, when Marshall was struggling somewhat in the season’s first few months, Baker was quite quick to remove him from that role in favor of Chapman, even though the two have essentially the same rate of converting save opportunities this season, and Chapman didn’t have the all important ninth inning experience either.
I’ve long since given up on figuring out why Dusty thinks the things he does, but all the same the Reds do have a very good setup man sitting behind Chapman in the bullpen, and that figures to be quite the weapon for them down the stretch and (knock on wood) in the N.L. playoffs. Assuming his manager figures that out in time to make use of him.