Thursday, May 3, 2012
Heath Bell is at it again. On Wednesday, he was called in to pitch the ninth against San Francisco with a 2-0 lead. His outing went thusly:
- Brandon Belt doubled to CF
- Joaquin Arias singled to RF, Belt scores
- Buster Posey singled to RF, Arias to third
Ozzie Guillen mercifully pulled Bell for Steve Cishek. After striking out Brett Pill, Cishek allowed the tying run to score on a brilliantly executed squeeze bunt by Gregor Blanco. Under the byzantine rules of the save, this means Cishek blew the save, but Bell did all the damage here. Bell's WPA during the inning was -0.556, while Cishek's was 0.111.
Bell had this to say about his troubles after the game:
I just feel really bad because Zambrano pitched a heckuva game. It still hurts, but it's one of those things that, for whatever reason, I'm not having any luck this year. The tide will change for me, hopefully sooner rather than later.Heath is half-right. So far this year, his BABIP has been .387, a full 84 points above his career average. BABIP is out of his control, and we all know the Marlins defense has been less than stellar this season.
But what Bell can control are his strikeout and walk rates, which have been abysmal. His 2012 BB% is 17.4%, compared to 8.4% for his career. And his K% is a paltry 10.9%, down from a career mark of 24.7%. He is having a hard time fooling hitters, as shown by a decrease in O-Swing% (percentage of swings at pitches outside the strike-zone) to 22.0% from 31.7% last year. Opposing hitters' contact rate has jumped to 88.5% from 81.2%.
What does this all mean? Meet your new Marlins closer: Steve Cishek. Guillen has not publicly said what he plans to do about the closer situation, but the writing is on the wall.