Mateo, Bane of the Bullpen; or, Welcome Back, Rafael Soriano
Sometimes people ask me why my blood pressure readings spike when Juio Mateo pitches late in close games.
To understand why, we must have a gander at Mateo’s numbers. But we also must understand that Rafael Soriano is slated to come off the disabled list tomorrow.
Soriano hasn’t pitched since June 28, but with him healthy, the Mariners simply have the best relief corps in a division full of good bullpens. Even without him, the team has some lights-out arms.
Small sample size caveats apply, but look at the strikeouts per nine inning rates of these guys:
J.J. Putz 11.67
Mark Lowe 10.66
Rafael Soriano 9.99
George Sherrill 9.87
Of those four, the highest ERA and WHIP belong to Sherrill, at 2.90 and 1.23 respectively. Lowe and Putz have allowed fewer than one baserunner per inning, with WHIP at .87 and .79 respectively. They miss bats, and hitters miss the feeling of getting on base.
Then there is southpaw Eric O’Flaherty, who is tearing up Double A San Antonio with a 1.02 ERA, a strikeout per inning and a left arm that threatens to replace Jake Woods as the second lefty.
To give some perspective on this, Julio Mateo’s WHIP is 1.62. Compared to Lowe, he’s giving up baserunners at a time-and-a-half rate.
Here’s another fun comparison. Hitters are batting .307 against him, getting on base at a .372 clip and slugging .482, for an OPS of .850.
This means that the average American League hitter, facing Mateo, suddenly becomes roughly equivalent to Mark Teixeira.
Barring injury, the bullpen ought to be a real strength. Julio Mateo ought not have the opportunity to enter one-run ballgames in the eighth inning unless Putz has cholera, Soriano becomes a leper, and Sherrill and Lowe are fistfighting over a girl.
They ask: why does my blood pressure rise when Julio Mateo enters a close game? I ask: doesn’t yours?