Towards that end, the Giants will use the rest of 2007 to evaluate Hennessey and Randy Messenger as candidates. This is because "they're both durable and they're both strike throwers." That's always a good characteristic of a pitcher, durable and strike thrower: probably won't last very long if you aren't either. :^)
BPV is the metric Ron Shandler uses to evaluate a pitcher's overall performance. Closers ideally should have BPV greater than 100. Brad Hennessey currently has a 72 BPV and Randy Messenger has 48. Kevin Correia is 46. Vinnie Chulk is 43. Jack Taschner is 51. Hello, Jonathan Sanchez has a BPV of 91. Sanchez appears to be the most qualified to be a closer in this bunch.
The article also mentions a scary item in there: Matt Cain, future closer? There are some (koff - idiots - koff) on the Giants who believe he has the stuff and bulldog attitude to become another Jonathan Papelbon. Hello, he has the stuff and bulldog attitude to be an ace pitcher on the staff, a nice duo with Lincecum, to knock other team's sox off in the playoffs, as I will show soon in a post.
Of course, if we can't find a good closer, perhaps that won't be so crazy an idea in the future, as long as we have a strong rotation overall already. But right now, we only have Cain and Lincecum as ace starters. I love Lowry, but he's a #2 starter in production, though he can dominate in August - if he could do that every month, he could be an ace, heck, he would lead the league.
Plus, why not go with Sanchez instead? He's even more of a fireballer, striking out many more than Cain and he doesn't have the repertoire for a starter yet. Plus his BPV is 91, very near the magic 100 that you want to see in a closer. Just a thought...
Speaking of Cain, many have been worried about his drop in strikeouts this year (and rightfully so; I was wondering what was up too, I was worried he was injured or tired from too many pitches last season) and I heard something very interesting during the game. One of the announcers (Kruk I think) noted that Cain has been frustrated with his recent outings so he decided to go back to the way he pitched successfully last year: going for the strikeout, damn the pitch count.
Apparently he has been trying (unsuccessfully) to go longer in games by trying to reduce his pitch count by reducing his strikeouts. That would explain, obviously, his reduction in strikeouts, but also explains his rise in walks (not that he wasn't too much of a walker before) because he was probably nibbling and trying to get the hitters to hit grounders early in the count, but ended up just giving free balls to too many batters, putting him behind in the count.
Well, he was successful today. 7.0 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs/ER, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, 1 HR, 121 pitches, 74 of them for strikes. That is a 5 PQS game, a dominating start again for him. It was around now that he went on that dominating run of starts last year, so here's hoping he just loves August pitching, much like Lowry and his dominating runs in August.
Cain last year in August: 6 starts, 2.65 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .234 BAA, 47 K/15 BB (over 3.0 ratio, which is stupendous), 11.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 (not great - you want it under 3.0 - but much improved for him).
Lowry for his career in August: 16 starts, 2.33 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .197 BAA, his only 2 career shutouts, 94 K/33 BB (nearly 3.0 ratio, which, as noted, is stupendous), 7.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9.
Why anyone would convert someone who can start like that into a closer is beyond me. Sure, a dominating closer can be just as valuable as an ace starter sometimes, but look at the Braves, they let Smoltz start again when he was totally dominating as a closer, and they have been going through a closer conga line since then trying to find an adequate replacement.
We have plenty of pitchers with closer potential in the minors: Brian Wilson, Billy Sadler, Brian Anderson, Merkin Valdez, to name the most prominent ones. Plus Foppert, Griffin, Joaquin are high strikeout pitchers in our farm system. Not every closer material pitcher can start, why waste a pitcher who can be very dominating like Cain as a starter, when we should try all these other candidates (plus others on the rise, Henry Sosa is getting a name for himself) first before considering that.
Plus as long as we are developing and not fighting for a championship, as we appear to be in 2008, just keep him where he is comfortable and, more importantly, wants to be doing. If the team is competitive in the 2009-2012 range and in need of a closer and have plenty of starters, then maybe, but I would still lean towards using someone else as closer instead of Cain. Ridiculous.