Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sergio Santos Back in the Good Books

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Image courtesy of Daylife via Getty Images
A few years back, Shaun Marcum was responsible for creating the phrase "pitch like a man". Now the next evolution of that phrase is "pitch like your wife's going into labour".

With the impending birth of his third child on his mind, Sergio Santos took the hill yesterday afternoon and picked up his first save of the season. One would think he would've been even more rattled than he was during Monday's Home Opener, but perhaps that sense of urgency helped Santos perform even better.

I didn't actually watch the end of the game myself, but I did catch the last few outs on the radio. Jerry and Alan remarked that Santo's slider looked the best it had since Spring Training, most notably on the strikeout against Kevin Youkilis.

Sergio Santos received the brunt of the criticism from Monday's game, and he definitely redeemed himself from that less than stellar performance at the Home Opener. He's now four appearances into the season and it's still far too early to make an assessment on Santos.

For now I think Santos is out of the dog house, but he didn't really deserve to be there in the first place. Had the Home Opener actually been a game in September, then I might have been worried. However, there should be no cause for concern ... especially this early in April.

Going merely by his pitch repertoire and his velocity, Santos is the quintessential closer. With his fastball/slider combo, Sergio has that strikeout power. One of the inherent side effects is he's going to be wild and he's going to probably walk a lot of batters.

Santos ranked second amongst AL relievers last season with a 13.07 K/9, but he also ranked 13th in B/9 at 4.12 walks per nine innings. He also had five wild pitches in 2011, the fourth most amongst AL relief pitchers.

In the span of two appearances, we saw Sergio Santos at his very worst ... and we saw him at his very best. On Monday, he couldn't find the strike zone, and yesterday he had complete command of his pitches.

Sergio Santos has the power to be a very dominant closer. But he also has the power to be a very wild one as well. Appearances like the one on Monday will inevitably rear their head once again, but let's just hope they are few and far between.

I guess it's better to mentally prepare oneself for the possibility that a closer could come unraveled at any time. Not even Mariano Rivera is immune to it.

In the meantime, John Farrell should just offer this piece of advice to his closer: "pitch like your wife's going into labour".

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