Back in February I outlined the Middle Reliever Methodology and recommended the best pitchers for employing that strategy. Though we are just two-plus weeks in, it appears as though the exercise has uncovered some really nice gems including Jordan Walden (now a full-time closer), Tim Collins (just dominating hitters) and Ernesto Frieri (latest in a long line of strong middle relievers in San Diego) among others.
While samples are admittedly small at this point in the season, we are still seeing names emerge who weren’t found on the original listing back in February. Here are a handful for your consideration if you’ve soured on the likes of Kenley Jansen or Bobby Jenks.
Aaron Crow (KC) – Collins isn’t the only impressive rookie in that Royals bullpen as Crow has looked great in his 8.7 innings across six appearances. He has 10 strikeouts and two walks and perhaps the bullpen suits him best going forward. Of course as a guy who was starting just last year, he could pile up innings with several multi-inning appearances. He already has five such occasions in his six games.
Guillermo Mota (SFG) – The 37-year old appears rejuvenated with a career-high 8.8 K/9 in 12.3 innings thus far. The Giants aren’t afraid to use him either as two of his stints have gone three and four innings, respectively. He’s shown a rubber arm tendency in his career, although it was seven and eight years ago when he totaled 105 and 97 innings entirely out of the bullpen.
Michael Dunn (FLO) – Ridiculously live arm (12.2 K/9 in 121 minor lg innings as reliever), but walks EVERYBODY (5.3 BB/9) and that has translated in the majors as well with 12.8 and 8.2 rates, respectively in 27 innings. But his absurd strikeout potential is too hard to ignore and if he limits hits, then the walks won’t matter much in the overall picture when it comes to WHIP.
Al Alburquerque (DET) – He’s only pitched 2.7 innings, but he has struck out four and his stuff is positively electric. I’ve seen both of his outings and I was thoroughly impressed (and that isn’t just a homer talking). This kid has got the stuff to be a high strikeout asset in AL-Only leagues and he will cost nothing.
Matt Reynolds (COL) – He showed a glimpse of his capability in 18 innings last year and he has picked up right where that left off in 5.7 innings so far this year. There is a bit of a ceiling on his potential as he is definitely a lefty specialist. His 5.7 innings have come in eight appearances so Jim Tracy picks his spots with Reynolds.
Pedro Strop (TEX) – A hyper version of Dunn with seven strikeouts in his 3.7 innings (17.2 K/9), but also four walks (9.8 BB/9). He’s very raw as he rarely knows where the ball is going to end up, but he’s definitely one to monitor.
Mitchell Boggs (STL) – He is a bit more high profile right now as Ryan Franklin has been awful this year leading to speculation about his successor. There is no clear option so Boggs has thrown name into the ring with nine brilliant innings including 12 strikeouts and just two runs allowed. Also a former starter, he is capable of logging plenty of innings having done his work in six appearances.
Kameron Loe (MIL) – The ERA is a tick high at 4.32, but that’s essentially blown up by one bad outing when he allowed three runs in a third of an inning on Sunday, April 17th. More importantly, he looked strong out of the pen in 53 appearances last year and has gotten better early on in 2011. He is also a good bet to fill in for John Axford if he should prove unable to hold the job this year.