The Beginning of Barry Zito's End
So as I mentioned in my last post, Barry Zito is flat out awful. And as of yesterday, he's now awful in the Giants' bullpen. While I definitely think Zito shouldn't be in their rotation, the question now becomes: What value does he have in their bullpen?
The most obvious place for him would be as a long man or as a lefty specialist. We'll start with the latter first.
This year, Zito is slightly better against lefties than righties. But that's not saying much; righties have an OPS of .947 against him while lefties sport a nifty .810 OPS. Last year was slightly better, with the righty/lefty split at .723/.714. In 2006, it went the other way, with lefties actually having a higher OPS against him (.767) than righties (.754). These are not the numbers of a man who dominates like-handed batters. So this not a good place for him at all.
We've already seen how ineffective he is over several innings so he will probably be just as bad out of the bullpen. However, there is value in him eating up innings in blowouts. If the Giants are down 8-0 in the fifth, they're not coming back. Their offense just doesn't have that sort of ability to score runs. So Zito can provide value by soaking up innings (even if he's horrible in doing so), keeping their effective bullpen arms well-rested. It's not a glamorous role (and probably one any average AAA pitcher could manage) and definitely not worth $126 million, but it's something.
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