A Baseball Weblog

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Yankees' bullpen candidates, part 1: Damaso Marte

Just for fun, I'm going to be profiling some of the Yankees' bullpen members over the next few posts. I've already covered Phil Hughes twice, as well as Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin. Though I would like to deconstruct the ridiculousness that is Mariano Rivera, I'm not going to do that just yet. I'll kick off this series with one of the pitchers that has a bullpen spot locked up, Damaso Marte.

Marte is not a stranger to the Yankee organization. After being signed as an amateur free agent by the Mariners in 1992, he was granted free agency in 2000 and was subsequently picked up by the Yankees later that year. However, he wouldn't pitch a game for the Yankees in this stint, as he was traded in June of 2001 straight-up for Enrique Wilson. After pitching a half-season with the Pirates, he was traded to the White Sox, for whom he provided four productive seasons out of the bullpen: 259 innings over 279 appearances, 2.78 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 3.66 xFIP, 4.1 BB/9, and 9.8 K/9. He was traded back to the Pirates before the 2006 season, and he spent two and a half seasons in Pittsburgh before coming to New York as a part of the Xavier Nady deal.

Since his arrival in New York, Marte has had mixed results. His 7.11 ERA is dreadful, but his 3.83 FIP and 4.27 xFIP paint a more positive picture. He has maintained a 10.5 K/9 ratio in his 46 appearances (31 2/3 innings) with New York, which is encouraging. Damaso won over the Yankee Universe with his performance in the 2009 postseason, in which he pitched 4 innings over 8 appearances, allowing 2 hits (both against the first two hitters he faced in ALDS Game 2), no runs, while striking out 5.

Before I go on, I'm going to roll out a few of my favorite PITCHf/x charts and graphs on Marte. (NOTE! These are 2009 regular season numbers only.)

Avg. SpeedMax. Speedpfx_xpfx_zspin_dirPitch#

(click for larger image)

Swing%Whiff%Wide Zone%


Despite being sidelined with a shoulder injury for most of the year, Marte still flashed decent velocity in 2009. It did take a dip from 2008, in which he averaged 92.4 mph. After all, he did miss four months last year with shoulder tendonitis, which is no minor injury.
Marte is a fastball/breaking-ball pitcher, and his breaking pitch (I'm calling it a slider here, but it's pretty slurvy) gets a few different looks to it. I was startled by how infrequently batters swung and missed at the slurve and how frequently they missed on the fastball. The slider was also in the strikezone much more frequently than the fastball, which is notable. These qualities probably contributed to Marte's 0.54 RSv/100 on the fastball and -2.94 RSv/100 on the slider.

What is in store for Damaso in 2010? Barring injury, he will be a member of the Yankees' bullpen, due to to his 3 year, $12 million contract. He obviously has the stuff and the track record, but due to the current depth of the Yankees' bullpen, could Marte work as a lefty specialist?
He slings the ball from a low three-quarters arm slot, and has had trouble with right-handed batters throughout his career. Here are some splits to ponder.

YearPlatoon Advantage xFIPK/9BB/9

vs RHBvs LHB
vs RHBvs LHB
vs RHBvs LHB

(Platoon Advantage is a measurement of how frequently a pitcher faced a same-handed batter; a score over 100 would indicate that a pitcher faced more batters of his handedness than the MLB average for that year.)

Given that the Yankees already have David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Phil Hughes and/or Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and the newly-acquired Chan Ho Park in the mix for bullpen spots, Marte may wind up getting most work as a LOOGY. An extremely expensive one.

Gameday PITCHf/x data is from MLB Advanced Media; it can be easily accessed via this tool. Other statistics are from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.

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