Mariners Analysis: Carson Smith Should be the M’s Closer


I’ll just come right out and say what I think a number of us are thinking.  It’s time for a change in the Mariners’ bullpen.  I’m not going to say it’s time for a new closer, because I don’t hold with the whole closer role idea.  But it’s time for a change in how our relievers are being used.

We knew this could happen with Fernando Rodney, it’s the kind of pitcher he is.  Strikeouts with the possibility of too many walks.  So what he’s doing now shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  And like it or not Rodney seems to be Lloyd McClendon’s guy, and when the game is on the line Rodney is the guy that comes out of the pen.  Only Justin Leone has a higher average leverage index on entering the game than Rodney (1.70 to 1.69).  Sitting third on that list is Carson Smith at 1.46.

I wrote about him earlier in the year, and since then he’s done nothing less that become the best option out of the Mariners bullpen.  There really isn’t an argument to be made about that.  He leads the pen in strikeout percentage at 30.8%, and he has the lowest walk percentage at 6.4%. Smitty leads in ERA at 0.86, and he leads in SIERA at 1.96.  Rodney’s marks in those areas?  18.9%, 9.9%, 6.98, and 3.92 respectively.

So why is Rodney out there in those high leverage situations?  See the second paragraph of this article.  Rodney is McClendon’s guy.  Here’s a quote from the Mariners’ skipper on his closer:

"“I don’t think you worry about his ERA much.  A lot of that is inflated from (two early season games). My old skipper told me this a long time ago. Your responsibility as a manager is to get the ball to your closer in the ninth inning. After that, what are you going to do? He either wins it or loses it.”"

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I agree with some of that.  Don’t worry about ERA too much.  There’s a lot of things that go into it and some of it isn’t under the pitchers control.  But when an inflated ERA is backed up by peripheral numbers that point to it being more than just bad luck, slavishly sticking to roles isn’t going to do your club any good.

Using Lloyd McClendon’s vernacular, Carson Smith should be the Mariners’ closer.  But he isn’t, and he probably won’t be.  So buckle up, folks.  Looks like it’s going to be a long bumpy ride on the Fernando Rodney express.

Next: Mariners Analysis: Find Out Where the M's Rank in All Star Voting

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