2010 projected leaders: Saves & Relief ERA

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Over the next several days, I’ll be dipping into my 2010 projections and presenting some leaderboards.
Saves
1. Mariano Rivera – 40
1. Francisco Rodriguez – 40
3. Joe Nathan – 38
3. Jonathan Papelbon – 38
5. Jonathan Broxton – 37
5. Brian Wilson – 37
7. Heath Bell – 36
7. Huston Street – 36
9. Francisco Cordero – 35
9. Trevor Hoffman – 35
11. David Aardsma – 34
11. Andrew Bailey – 34
11. Joakim Soria – 34
11. Jose Valverde – 34
11. Billy Wagner – 34
– Save projections don’t tend to make for very interesting lists. One or two pitchers from the group above will likely end up with 45-50 saves, but it’s hard to project anyone to finish with that kind of total. Rivera finished with 44 last year, but that was his first season over 40 since 2005. Nathan had 47, but that was after three years of 36, 37, and 39.
– If he were guaranteed to remain in San Diego all season long, I might have pushed Bell over 40. Teams that play low scoring games tend to rack up the most saves, and the Padres should play about as many as any team. Bell, though, is a possibility to be dealt in July, perhaps even to a team that would return him to a setup role.
– Seattle is another team that I could see generating 50 save chances. Aardsma, though, won’t necessarily remain their best reliever. Mark Lowe, Brandon League and Shawn Kelley will all be candidates to overtake him if he stumbles.


Relief ERA (minimum 50 IP)
1. Mariano Rivera – 2.18
2. Joe Nathan – 2.41
3. Jonathan Broxton – 2.54
4. Joakim Soria – 2.64
5. Jonathan Papelbon – 2.73
6. Billy Wagner – 2.77
7. Phil Hughes – 2.79
8. Carlos Marmol – 2.88
9. Heath Bell – 3.01
10. Luke Gregerson – 3.07
11. Mike Adams – 3.09
12. Takashi Saito – 3.10
13. Andrew Bailey – 3.11
14. Francisco Rodriguez – 3.12
15. Francisco Cordero – 3.14
16. Brian Wilson – 3.18
17. Joe Thatcher – 3.19
18. Sergio Romo – 3.21
19. Ramon Troncoso – 3.22
20. Rafael Soriano – 3.25
– I don’t suppose I really had to use the minimum 50 IP. The only pitcher disqualified from the top 20 as a result was Hong-Chih Kuo. I have the injury-prone left-hander at 2.61 in 41 1/3 innings.
– Four Padres make the list. It’s partly a testament to Petco Park, but San Diego has one of the game’s very best bullpens. Adams allowed just one earned run in 15 1/3 innings on the road last season. Bell had a 3.08 ERA and Thatcher came in at 3.26. Only Gregerson struggled, finishing with a 6.48 ERA in 33 1/3 innings, but he still struck out 40 and allowed just three homers in 33 1/3 innings away from Petco.

Dusty Baker expects Stephen Strasburg to make his next scheduled start

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”

Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.

Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

John Lackey hit four White Sox batters today

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Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.

Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.

So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.