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.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.