From Dave Cameron at FanGraphs on June 24, 2013:
The Tigers bullpen has been a running punchline for a while now, and if you were to identify a flaw on their team — besides corner infield defense, anyway — you’d point out their shaky ninth inning options when being asked to hold a lead. Bruce Rondon showed he wasn’t ready for the gig, then Jose Valverde tried and failed once more, so now it’s Joaquin Benoit‘s chance to hold down the closer role.
However, the modern singular focus on the closer as representative of a team’s bullpen strength can be misleading, and Detroit is a prime example of why the guy getting the save doesn’t have to be your best bullpen pitcher. The Tigers might not have a closer, but in Drew Smyly, they have something even better: an old school relief ace.
myly has appeared in 26 games this year, which isn’t a remarkable number. In fact, 26 appearances ties him with Cesar Ramos and Kyle Farnsworth for the 124th highest total on the season. However, Smyly has pitched multiple innings in 17 of those 26 appearances, tying him for the fifth most multi-inning appearances among MLB relievers this year, and of the relievers ahead of him, only one — Pittsburgh’s Justin Wilson — is regularly asked to hold leads. Jim Leyland is deploying Smyly in the role that relievers used to play 30 years ago, and it’s working really well.
Read the full article here: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/drew-smyly-justin-wilson-old-school-relief-ace/
Originally published: June 24, 2013. Last Updated: June 24, 2013.