Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Matt Guerrier does not equal Eddie Guardado

If the stereotypical closer is Goose Gossage or Lee Smith — hulking flame thrower — the reality is somewhat different.

There have been plenty of successful closers who thrived without intimidating velocity, including Eddie Guardado (right), who picked up 86 saves in his two seasons in the ninth-inning role with the Twins.

Everyday Eddie got it done without a single dominant pitch. He worked with command and attitude.

Which some think makes him a template for Matt Guerrier, who also lacks a dominant pitch but has the command and attitude part.

One big problem with that comparison, however. Eddie G. missed bats. Matty G. does not.

Look at the Baseball Reference link above for Guardado and you'll see excellent K/9 rates until his age 36 season, when his shoulder was giving way. As a setup man, he consistently whiffed more than a batter an inning; as a ninth-inning specialist, just a little under.

Now look at Guerrier's. He doesn't match up. Last year he had the kind of strikeout rate Guardado had in his final season.

It's a significant difference. Strikeouts matter for pitchers. Guardado was — I write of him in the past tense because it appears his career is over; you get released by the Nationals, you probably can't pitch for anybody — a better pitcher than Guerrier is.


  1. How much do strikeouts really matter to a closer, particularly one who will always enter at the beginning of the ninth inning?

  2. Strikeouts are the key to the success of any pitcher in any inning in any situation.

  3. Guerrier won't be the closer. I think it's down to Rauch, Crain or maybe Slama, if they take a chance on the talented kid. I have a feeling that Crain would develop into a good closer. He would enjoy the drama.