The case for the LA Angels bringing back Steve Cishek
Moving onto Steve Cishek, things are pretty similar to Mayers, albeit with a few extra caveats on both sides of the argument.
First off, despite being 35 years old, Cishek actually managed to remain healthy all season long and made the fifth most appearances of any reliever in baseball with 74.
In those games, Cishek produced a surprisingly good 3.42 ERA and 3.74 FIP, along with a terrific .668 OPS from opposing batters. Unlike Mayers, however, there was a fair bit of luck in play for Cishek here.
On top of a 4.21 RA9, his xFIP balloons to 5.04 and his SIERA rises to 4.79. These numbers shouldn’t be too unexpected since Cishek is mostly a groundball pitcher with awful strikeout (8.4 K/9) and walk (5.4 BB/9) rates.
His 3.57 xERA gives some hope since it better reflects his abilities as someone who generates a lot of weak contact (32.0% Hard Hit rate, .308 xSLG), but this stat isn’t quite as good as the others at predicting future performance. Plus, there’s no telling if he’ll continue to limit hard contact as well next year as he did this year.
Then there’s Cishek’s inherited runner stats.
Though he did a decent job stranding runners (72.2% LOB%), he allowed 26/61 inherited runners to score. Again, however, like Mayers, this number is heavily inflated by the shear volume of appearances Cishek had to make, hence inheriting a total of 61 runners in 2021.
It’s also important to note that these rough outings tended to come in bunches, with 16 out of those 26 inherited runners coming in the months of April and June. In fact, between May, July, August, and September, Cishek made 51 appearances, but only allowed an inherited runner to cross home plate in seven of them.
All of this is to say, if Joe Maddon uses his head and gives Cishek a heavily reduced workload in 2022, the results should be superlative.
Having only made $1 million this year (and assuming his agent isn’t insane), Cishek can easily be signed for another cheap one-year deal, and he’d be wise to accept it.
Bottom line, the Angels have enough holes to fill in the bullpen already, so why unnecessarily add two more. Mayers and Cishek may not be household names, but they’re both capable of making a meaningful contribution to this team in a crucial upcoming season.