Last season, to preview the upcoming summer we ran through the “key” to each player’s season. Rather than the keys to game you might see on a network like Fox, these keys weren’t “play better than the other team,” but rather, what aspect of their individual game you should be tracking early on.
Over the next couple weeks, I’ll go through the roster by position covering the thing I’m most interested in watching about each player as the season gets under way and then we’ll tie things together by breaking down the division rivals and club as a whole. Today, we’ll talk bullpen. (Read about the outfield, infield, catchers/DH, and starters). Because it’s the bullpen, we’ll keep these very brief. Don’t take it too seriously.
Throw strikes. My god, throw strikes. Nathan clearly doesn’t have the stuff he once did, but he missed the zone way too often last year, even for a guy on his last legs.
Health. Soria has all the makings of a relief ace as long as he can consistently let it go.
Keep up the walk rate gains. Al-Al dramatically cut the walks last year. If that wasn’t just a one year blip, he might finally be a full-time high leverage option.
Find the good breaking ball and use it. Joba doesn’t have the elite velocity anymore, but if he can locate the curveball he can have a successful season.
Continuing being left-handed.
Command. Nesbitt has the stuff to make this work, but we’ve seen countless farm hands flunk out when they finally faced a hitter who could catch up with the heat.
Don’t watch the radar gun. 101 mph looks impressive, but 98 will be plenty effective if it’s located well. If you’re trying to blow everything by the hitter, they will adjusted and ruin you.
Continue to limit damage, even if you don’t limit base runners.
Strike zone good, but center of the strike zone bad.