2010 Positional Reviews: The Relief Pitchers | The Process Report

2010 Positional Reviews: The Relief Pitchers

Minimum 20 innings pitched for Tampa Bay

Rafael Soriano

2010 Stats 8.2 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9

The Good: Basically everything. Acquired for the ghost of Aki Iwamura, Soriano posted the greatest closing season in franchise history. His 45 saves are a nice round number for his impending free agency, but Soriano was a true relief ace even without the saves. His swag on the mound is unrivaled.

The Bad: Unfortunately, it will likely be one and done for Soriano. Has a player had a bigger impact in just one season with the Rays?

Miscellany:  The fans love Soriano and he never disappointed at home going 22 for 22 in save opportunities at the Trop. Also managed to keep his pre-pitch rituals from reporters all season.

Joaquin Benoit

2010 Stats 11.2 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9

The Good: 12 months ago, I suggested the Rays take a flier on Benoit. At the time I figured he would be a nice fourth option in the bullpen. I did not expect him to post one of the best – if not the best – set-up season in MLB history.

The Bad: Like Soriano, Benoit is likely to be elsewhere next season. We can still hope.

Miscellany: Became the first reliever in MLB history to post a K/9 greater than 11.0 with a BB/9 less than 2.0 and a sub 1.50 ERA (min 50 innings) with less than 10 saves.

Grant Balfour

2010 Stats 9.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9

The Good: Balfour returned to form in 2010 after taking a slight step back in 2009. He struck out better than a better per inning while lowering his BB/9 to under 3.0.

The Bad: Dead horse time. Balfour is an unrestricted free agent. But of all the others, the Rays have a legit shot of re-signing him.

Miscellany: Is one of just three American League pitchers to throw 180 innings with a K/9 above 10.0 since 2008 (Matt Thornton & Jonathan Papelbon).

Randy Choate

2010 Stats 8.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9

The Good: Remained very good against lefties – limiting them to a line of .202/.263/.266 against.

The Bad: Continued to get lit up like a Christmas tree against righties with a .410/.521/.641 line against. Is also a free agent.

Miscellany: Set the Rays single season record for appearances with 85. Also became just the seventh reliever in AL history to make at least 85 relief appearances.

Dan Wheeler

2010 Stats 8.6 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9

The Good: Often used in tandem with Randy Choate, Wheeler excelled at getting right-handed batters out (.222/.287/.400).

The Bad: Home runs remained a problem especially toward he end of the season. Is also likely to have his option bought out – making him a free agent.

Miscellany: Pitched with the platoon advantage (vs. RHB) 77% of the time in 2010; the highest percentage in the majors (min. 40 IP).

Lance Cormier

2010 Stats 4.4 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9

The Good: Maintained his stellar groundball percentage with a gb rate near 50%. Also stranded 80% of baserunners.

The Bad: Often used as the Rays second “lefty” despite being right-handed because right-handed batters tagged him with a .936 OPS against.

Miscellany: Became just the 13th pitcher in the AL since 1961 to walk more batters than he struck out (min. 60 appearances).

Andy Sonnantine

2010 stats 5.6 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9

The Good: Posted a 6.1 K/9 with a 2.53 K/BB ratio in 63 innings of relief.

The Bad: His BB/9 topped 3.0 for a second straight season and his overall K/BB rate was below 2.0.

Miscellany: Joined James Shields as the only Rays’ pitcher to make a start in each of the past four seasons.

Chad Qualls

2010 Stats (Tampa Bay only) 6.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9

The Good:  Acquired to get groundballs and double plays, Qualls did both in his time with the Rays. In 22 double play opportunities, he induced a twin-killing 18% of the time. The league average is 11%. He also got a groundball 55% of the time.

The Bad: His bad luck on balls in play continued. Although his BABIP dropped more than .100 points from Arizona (.434) to Tampa Bay (.332), it was abnormally high.

Miscellany: Qualls is the favorite pitcher of Jay Jaffe.

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