You know what was missing from the Angels bullpen this year (besides, you know, the ability to get hitters out consistently)? More lefties.
Scott Downs pitched another solid season as the lone lefty in an incredibly unbalanced bullpen, but he can’t pitch every day. And since I never ever advocate adding relief pitching via the free agent market, I’m gonna drool over what Nick Maronde can bring to the table if he is left in the bullpen full time.
First, the video:
That punch out fastball is what we like to refer to as “paint,” and it is 100% sexy. What that video doesn’t show, is his wipe out slider. Luckily we have this one here:
That pitch to Seth Smith was beautiful.
Moving along, Maronde has proven in the minors that he has the ability to be, at best, a mid rotation starter. Not bad. The problem is, he only has two pitches that he can go to on a regular basis with his fastball and slider (Not everyone can be Ervin Santana, especially with that chinstrap beard of his). Keep him in the bullpen, and his ability to touch 94 with an excellent slide piece, and those pitches immediately play way above what they should.
Minor League Stats
|2012||3 Teams||3 Lgs||A+-AA-Rk||6||4||2.26||20||18||99.2||82||30||19||90||1.013||7.4||0.5||1.7||8.1||4.74|
I would use his Major League stat line, but since he only pitched six innings in 2012 (And I'm scared of the SSS Gang), I'm using his Minor League line.
Some people want to see high strikeout rates from relievers, some want to see 97 plus MPH fastballs. What do I want to see? I want to see a pitcher who keeps men off base. Maronde finished this season with a WHIP (Walks Plus Hits per Inning Pitched) of 1.013 over 99.2 innings across three levels. If you add in the six innings thrown in September, that number is 1.046. Having a high strikeout rate helps, but Scott Downs has made a career out of being a reliever with a career 6.9 K/9.
Why am I so high on Nick? Because at every single level he has been dominant (Including the homer happy Cal League). And not in the Joe Saunders "He just wins" kind of dominant. He's been dominant in a Dan Haren kind of way. Using control to compile a good but not great strikeout rate and basement level walk rate. Hitters know that Maronde is going to throw strikes and that forces them to swing, even at pitches at of the zone, giving him the advantage before the hitter even steps into the box.
Jason wrote here yesterday that Garrett Richards is a key for the Angels in 2013, whether it be as a starter, reliever or trade bait. But, I'd argue that Nick Maronde is more important than Richards for the Angels, they just need to leave him in the bullpen.