Damaso Marte: Setup man or LOOGY?


The Yankees bullpen composition changed today when they signed Chan Ho Park to a major league contract. Mike went through the implications, including who could be the odd man out, but this focus on the bullpen has made me think about someone else’s role. No matter how the bullpen shapes up Damaso Marte will be a part of it. Given the team’s other options for the remaining five spots, he also figures to be the only lefty in the pen. Does this mean Marte will be used primarily as a LOOGY, or will he play more of a setup role for the team?

Photo credit: Gail Burton/AP

Part of Marte’s appeal is his historical success against both lefties and righties. Since 2002, the beginning of the FanGraphs era, Marte has faced 1,057 righties, allowing 344 of them, 33 percent, to reach base while striking out 23 percent. He takes a while to retire them, it seems, over four pitches per plate appearance, but the results have been solid, a 4.14 FIP against a 4.22 ERA. He’s not a guy you bring into a game with three righties due up, but he can certainly handle the righty residing between two lefties.

As expected, he’s fared much better against lefties. He’s face 784 of them since 2002, allowing just 201 of them, 26 percent, to reach base while striking out 30 percent. Surprisingly, he takes just as long to retire lefties as he does righties, though he throws strikes a bit more frequently. This leads to a lower walk rate. Against righties he’s walked one in every 8.6 batters, while he walks just one in 10.18 lefties. That, combined with a greatly reduced home run rate, brings his FIP against lefties down to 2.77, against a 2.02 ERA.

Another advantage Marte holds over lefties is his ability to induce the ground ball. Over his career he’s induced a ground ball on 41.1 percent of balls in play against lefties. That drops to 33.3 percent against righties. The difference mainly goes to fly ball rate, which is compounded against righties because of a higher HR/FB ratio. So when Marte does allow fly balls against lefties, they don’t leave the park as frequently as against righties.

The Yankees have a number of relievers who can pitch multiple innings. In fact, all of their relief candidates, outside of Rivera and Robertson, have recent experience pitching multiple innings. Even Robertson can pitch an inning plus when necessary. Might that push Marte into more of a LOOGY role? In lineups with one key lefty, or, as with the Twins, key lefties batting back-to-back, might the Yankees prefer to deploy Marte for short stints, using the other relievers to cover the rest of the lineup?

As Chad Jennings notes, Marte’s shoulder is feeling better this year than last, when he missed 117 days with what was termed tendinitis. The Yanks are playing it cautious, limiting Marte’s bullpens since, like Rivera, he needs only 10 or so innings to warm up in the spring. Hopefully Marte’s full recovery allows the Yankees to deploy him as they see fit, rather than relegating him to one specific role.

Categories : Death by Bullpen


  1. Is ERA ever a good measure by which to judge the effectiveness of relievers?

    Regarding Marte, I think he’ll be a bit more of a LOOGY, but not a “X inning” guy.

  2. pete says:

    I think he’ll be a frequently-used LOOGY but I think when he’s hot, a la world series last year, he’ll be used more. I think Girardi has made it clear the past two years that his bullpen managing style is very fluid. It’s not like he’s gonna fill out a chart at the beginning of the year, hang it up in the dugout, and go to sleep for 6 months like Torre.

    //but still’d

  3. pete says:

    Oh and let the record show: if that picture (or the A-Rod switch starting in ’07) doesn’t prove that high socks are the shit, I don’t know what will.

  4. Christos says:

    Damon looks pretty good in a Tigers uniform

  5. larryf says:

    Great live arm with wicked delivery. Glad he came along with Nady. Who else does our farm team in Pittsburgh have that we might be interested in this year?

  6. pat says:

    I’d just like to see him used in the most high leverage of situations vs lefties. Anywhere between the 6th and 9th innings, where the balance of the game could be shifted is fine with me.

  7. H.W. Plainview says:

    Anyone have any clue as to what the league average FIP for a left handed pitcher is versus a right handed batter?

  8. a $4 mill loogy? he is way better than a loogy.

    • CountryClub says:

      I think we all agree. But I have a feeling that the Yanks are going to think a healthy LOOGY is much better than a hurt reliever that can get lefties and righties out.

      I’m not saying they’re right, I just have a feeling that’s going to be their mindset.

      • Scooter says:

        Joe’s pen management skills are excellent – and he learns from mistakes

        After the Yankees acquired him in 2008, Joe was going to Marte a lot – and was pitching him in multiple innings. Marte ended up ineffective and injured

        It was hard not to love Marte after he whiffed Ortiz on a slider diving into the dirt in his first Yankee appearance. Wasn’t much good after that – until he owned Howard and Utley in the World Series.

        Don’t think Joe will be afraid to let Marte face some righties – but Marte won’t go more than an inning – and probably won’t go too often on consecutive days.

  9. T-Dubs says:

    For what it’s worth, Robertson’s platoon splits are pretty good against lefties (SSS)

    Hughes not so much:

    Joba’s aren’t terrible (minus a ton of walks):

    and Mo is the Lord.

  10. CountryClub says:

    I have a feeling they’re going to be pretty cautious with him this yr. So I think he’ll be used more as a LOOGY, especially in the first half of the year.

  11. Steve H says:

    I think it comes down to how the RHP in the pen get lefties out. If they have success, there’s less of a need to “match up.”. Now against Minnesota they may save him for Mauer and Morneau back to back, but otherwise I don’t see Marte coming in for a batter or two at a time.

  12. H.W. Plainview says:

    Marte isn’t a liability versus RHBs like Phil Coke was and his leverage splits point to a reliever that is capable in medium and high leverage situations when lined up against comparable pitchers (Howell, Thornton, etc.).

    If he is used in moderation primarily against lefties he should be everything a fan can hope for.

  13. Joe says:

    So would Girardi’s

  14. Lanny says:

    This is Girardi here. He’ll go nuts if he doesnt have a 2nd lefty to go to in order to over manage.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.