Wednesday, 16 January 2013
Darren Oliver Accepts his Fate
You want a pay raise? Go make the fucking playoffs.
This is sweet. Way sweeter than giving Happ and Cecil (or Loup or Crawford) the lefty jobs out of the bullpen. Even if he's only going to throw 50 or 60 innings, this is a massive improvement. It's not just the 1.0 WAR or so that he brings to the table, but it's what he isn't that helps so much more.
The bullpen now has an inexploitable strength. Oliver obviously handles lefties without much fanfare (.291 wOBA against LHB in 2012, .319 career), but actually handles right-handed batters better (.233 in '12, .314 career). Do your worst, Joe Girardi.
Compare that with JA Happ's career .302/.339 splits (okay) and Brett Cecil's .289/.368 (eesh). Basically what I'm saying here is that in those situations where Gibbons goes to the lefty, and the other team counters with a righty bat off the bench, Oliver is a much, much better option that Happ, let alone Cecil.
In fact, I think barring the Oliver signing, we'd be seeing a lot of situations that would typically call for a pitching change pass by for fear of setting up a Cecil vs. righty scenario. I mean, in 2012 alone, Cecil had a .400 wOBA-against vs. righty batters. .400! For reference, Edwin Encarnacion in 2012 had a .396 wOBA. The guy is like the bizarro Adam Lind, in that he should never face a right batter, as opposed to a lefty pitcher.
I think it's a foregone conclusion that the Jays will be relying less on the bullpen this year, with innings eaters like Dickey and Buehrle in the mix, so the bullpen is probably a little bit less important than it was a year ago, but still. This is a pretty important development. It should allow Happ to stay stretched out as the team's swingman, and not their lefty specialist. Oliver is probably good for something in the range of 1WAR, but I think it's just as important that he'll be around to shield Cecil and Happ from righties.