Damaso Marte: Setup man or LOOGY?

When Johnny went marching away again
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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.

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When Johnny went marching away again
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  • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

    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.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      No, it’s not, but that’s why I included all the peripheral information.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

        It wasn’t a slight. It was a serious question like, “Does ERA measure any part of relieving well that enables us to determine how effective they are?”

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          I didn’t think it was a slight. I don’t think it effectively measures relievers, because they enter and exit mid-inning, sometimes leaving runners on and sometimes inheriting them. There are so many things going on, including situational leverage, that we can’t judge them just by the runs they allow, as determined by the regulations of “earned” runs.

          It’s why I like FIP for relievers. It takes into account the things that they do, so we can compare them that way. If we’re going to leave out situational information for relievers, we might as well leave the focus on the things they control.

          • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

            Gotcha. TY.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            I’d love to see the strikeouts and baserunners allowed numbers you included become a more prominent way of evaluating relievers.

            A K/OBP ratio, perhaps.

  • pete

    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.

    /hyperbole’d
    //but still’d

  • pete

    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.

    • bexarama

      high socks <3333

      I am sad we lost Damon because of the high socks, but I'm pretty sure both Granderson and Johnson wear high socks, so happy times are here again.

      • pat

        Burnett might even join in the fun too. A few pics from ST so far look like he’s rockin them.

        • pete

          that would just be bizarre. AJ, CC, and Cano should stick with the long pants. Jeter, Andy, Hughes, Jorge, Swish, and Tex should all switch to high socks.

          • bexarama

            CC definitely wore high socks at one point in Cleveland, I think when he first came up, because I saw video clips of it. It looked odd.

            I miss Andy’s high socks :(

            Jorge in high socks would just be weird.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              I think Swish should wear shorts, 1976 White Sox style.

              • Tom Zig
                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  If anyone could ever make that look stylish, it’s the Swishhawk.

                • OldYanksFan

                  Hey! Let kill the talk about throwing back Giant Negros!

                • OldYanksFan

                  Opps…. wrong group. Kinda kills the joke.

              • Bob Stone

                The White Sox do have a knack for coming up with some REALLY ugly uniforms, along with the Pirates (Train Conductor Caps)and Padres (Ugly shades of shit brown).

                • bexarama

                  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.....id=4801153

                  Mark felt he HAD to pitch a perfect game later on in the season to make up for the humiliation of wearing that get-up.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  They’re easily the three ugliest teams in baseball.

                  The Devil Rays used to be up there as well, but their 2008 redesign was an AMAZING upgrade. Never before has one franchise moved from so putrid to so classy in one year.

                • bexarama

                  Also, what team wears the CAMOUFLAGE uniforms? Is that the Padres?

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  Bexy:

                  In the White Sox defense, those aren’t White Sox unis, they’re Chicago American Giants Negro League throwbacks.

                • bexarama

                  TSJC – I had no idea. My bad. I’d just seen that clip while looking through the Buehrle (spelling???) archives once, and remembered how pajama-looking those uniforms were.

                  We all also forgot the Diamondbacks and their many arena-football-esque uniforms.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  http://www.mopupduty.com/camohoffman.jpg (safe-ish)

                  The Padres camos are in homage to the city’s large military history, and not that bad, IMO.

                  The Padres’ true sin against fashion (present gear only) is the banana-sand-mustard-babypoop road kits with the bland banal blocktext lettering.

                  http://bloximages.chicago2.vip......image.jpg (safe)

                  Ugh.

                • Jack
                • bexarama

                  I knew the camo uniforms were in homage to something, but they are still incredibly hideous, IMO. It just looks pretty cheap to me.

                  I never thought about/realized how ugly their road uniforms were, though. Yikes.

                  Not a fan of when the Red Sox wear those DAY-GLO RED uniforms either, especially because it seems they win against the Yankees in incredibly annoying ways when they do. I may be being irrational here. :P

                • bexarama

                  And the Mets. Though it’s less a case of ugly uniforms as much as how many uniforms do they NEED?

                • Jack
                • OldYanksFan

                  It’s a bloody Christmas tree!

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      All the minor leaguers have to wear them.

  • Christos

    Damon looks pretty good in a Tigers uniform
    http://espn.go.com/video/clip?.....id=2378529

    • bexarama

      That’s only because he didn’t start growing the Jesus beard yet.

      • Christos

        I think he likes the Yankees look. Clean Cut.

    • pat

      They’re nice uni’s. Most players would look good in them.

      • Bob Stone

        Totally agree.

    • DP

      Off topic.

      • Christos

        Yes Sir

  • larryf

    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?

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Too early to get Andrew McCutchen?

      /drool’d

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

      Garrett Jones, RF is exactly the type they should trade. 28-year old corner outfielder coming off a year no one expected, making little money. We’re not foolish enough to take it, unless we need power off the bench.

      Pedro Alvarez (not gonna happen), 3B. Zach Duke, SP.

      Possibly Dotel?

      • Lanny

        Isnt he the exact type of player they should NOT trade?

        • Jack

          A corner outfielder who didn’t make the majors until 28 coming off a year he likely won’t repeat? Yeah, they better not let that one get away.

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

          Don’t bother reading the words I wrote.

  • pat

    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.

    • Mike Pop

      Same. When the time comes, Girardi will know.

  • H.W. Plainview

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

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Templeton_Peck Templeton “Brendog” Peck

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

    • CountryClub

      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

        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.

  • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

    For what it’s worth, Robertson’s platoon splits are pretty good against lefties (SSS)
    http://www.baseball-reference......=&t=p

    Hughes not so much:
    http://www.baseball-reference......r&t=p

    Joba’s aren’t terrible (minus a ton of walks):
    http://www.baseball-reference......r&t=p

    and Mo is the Lord.
    http://www.baseball-reference......=&t=p

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      and Mo is the Lord.

      /Redundant’d

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Moly, moly, moly; Lord Mo, you are moly.

  • CountryClub

    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.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    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.

    • bexarama

      I was gonna say “just let the best person in the pen deal with Mauer” but I didn’t realize his career numbers were so stark when it came to righties vs. lefties (.947 vs. RHB, .781 vs. LHB, though it was 1.103 vs. RHB last year and .910 vs. LHB last year). Hmmm.

      • andrew

        There’s a reason why lefty specialists exist. You have found it.

        • bexarama

          Yeah, I know, but I just generally thought Mauer’s numbers against lefties were good enough that it didn’t really matter if you were throwing a lefty at him and you should just go for the best person in the bullpen. I didn’t know he had such meh numbers against lefties for his career.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

      I could see Marte occasionally doing a full inning, though he’ll probably do 1-2 in big situations.

      But match-ups? C’mon, you know Girardi loves his match-ups.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        With only one lefty in the pen, the ability to match-up will be somewhat taken out of his hands.

        And imagine Girardi with Pat Vendette in the pen? My head would explode.

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

          Cashman WILL find an octopus that can throw a baseball. Girardi wouldn’t know what to do with himself.

          He might even eat a sugared snack out of shock.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        But match-ups? C’mon, you know Girardi loves his match-ups.

        Matchups? Matchups?
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3H7l3RZEik (safe)

        • pete

          bobait’d

  • H.W. Plainview

    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.

  • Joe

    So would Girardi’s

    • Joe

      reply FAIL

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        Quench his thrist TSJC.

  • Lanny

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

    • Hughesus Christo

      I’m just happy when they can convince Girardi not to carry 3 catchers.

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