David Aardsma’s ability to lock down the ninth inning has been one of the pleasant surprises of the season, though the way he accomplished his domination wasn’t exactly worry free. Command has never been his strength, and even when he was blowing hitters away in the first half, he could best be described as effectively wild. In June, for instance, he was basically untouchable, striking out 20 batters in 11 scoreless innings, but he also walked four batters and only threw strikes 59% of the time.
Well, don’t look now, but Aardsma hasn’t walked anyone in a month, and since August 24th, he’s thrown strikes 70% of the time. He’s been perfect in that stretch as well, throwing 11 innings, striking out 11, and holding opposing hitters to a .150/.150/.175 line. He’s been a relief ace in every sense of the term.
I know it’s en vogue to suggest that the M’s should sell high on Aardsma this winter, having successfully turned a generic bullpen arm into a proven closer, but Aardsma isn’t just a generic arm who is getting inflated value by racking up easy saves. Even with an expected regression in his HR/FB rate, Aardsma would still be one of the better relief pitchers in baseball.
If the M’s are going to try and re-sign Felix, a big part of the sales pitch will be to convince him that they can win soon. While the buy low/sell high philosophy is all well and good, you have to retain enough good players to put together a contending roster. For the M’s, David Aardsma is one of their better players. Unless someone wants to offer another low cost +2 win player that could fill a hole elsewhere, the M’s should hang onto their closer. He’s not a fungible piece that could easily be replaced.