Setup men are overlooked in Major League Baseball however these pitchers are almost as important as your closers. They are paid basically the same money however do not receive the glamor as closers do.
As we move down the stretch run, every pitch seems to get bigger. The pressure is mounting and the ralley towels are out seeking Ks on the board and round numbers on the opponents box score.
You can't have the closer without the setup man. Just as Hideki Okajima said, "I'm willing to be a hero in the dark."
Coming into Beantown with fellow country mate Daisuke Matsuzaka, he made a great transition from the Yomiuri Giants (the Yankees of Japan).
He made the 2007 American League All-Star team in his rookie season via the Final Vote Ballot. Since then, he has been consistent for the Red Sox.
In 2009, he has stiffed left handers including an BAA of .154.
The Los Angeles Dodgers went out on Deadline Day and traded for a stellar left hander in George Sherrill.
Along with Hong-Chih Kuo, the Dodgers will be able to matchup with left handers late in ball games. Now if they just had one for Matt Stairs last year...
The two important rules for relief pitchers. 1. Strike batters out. 2. No base on balls. Right-hander Octavio Dotel follows rule No. 1 but fails at 2—The only reason he isn't higher up the charts.
Dotel has 68 strikeouts through 48 innings pitched, but 42 walks. Setting up Bobby Jenks will be a key to Chicago going for another AL Central Divison Championship.
Right-hander Rafael Soriano found himself in a lefty/righty platoon between Mike Gonzalez. As a former fireballer, Soriano was pitching north of 95 MPH.
He has reformed his off-speed ptiches to be more effective. Soriano has blown three saves in 20 oppurtunites.
Bobby Cox now has the flexibility between two back end players to matchup with elite opponents during the final two innings.
Former closer Carlos Marmol has been flipped flopped with ex-Marlin Kevin Gregg thus far. Neither has saved Lou Piniella's high blood pressure and neither has reached their full potential.
Marmol leads Major League Baseball in Holds, but has taken hold of the closer spot going down the stretch run.
In this past offseason, the San Fransisco Giants needed to sure up their bullpen. To complement fireball closer Brian Wilson, they needed a setup man to give manager Bruce Bochy a security blanket.
He would always be forced to extend his starter in a close game, which the Giants always seemed to be a part of due to their anemic offense.
The Giants signed him to a 2-year, 8 million dollar contract. Money well spent.
Big Z has captured Oaktown's admiration of for the unusual. His submarine style has stymied opponents leaving their heads spinning just the way his slider spins away from right-handed hitters.
In his sophomore year, Brad Ziegler has a career ERA of 1.83 and wishes to raise to the surface to a September contender (maybe next year Brad).
The Bridge to Lidge has seen many different roles in his career. He came up as a highly publicized starter. With his early growing pains, he flipped back and forth from the bullpen. His mentality on the mound was as stable as the DOW meter.
With a cemented role and World Series experience, Ryan Madson is focused on becoming one of the best relievers in the game.
J.P. who? not J.P. Morgan or J.P. Lossman, but rather J.P. Howell. Like Madson, Howell found himself with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008.
His important role as the lefty specialist was made paramount in games versus the lefty heavy Philadelphia Phillies. He has an excellent 2.18 ERA despite being in the heavy hitting American League.
With the ageless Troy Percival likely out for the year, Joe Madden needs all the help he can get for even sniffing the Wild Card. Bring back the Ray-hawk!