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Thoughts on J.P. Howell, Joe Nelson, and Grant Balfour

Time to talk the pen, again. No intros, let's just get to it.

J.P. Howell is fantastic:

Year FIP tRA GB% K% BB% SwStr%
2008 3.39 3.68 53.7 24.8 10.5 9.8
2009 2.78 3.17 56 26.3 7.5 10.8

I feel like he's been my most-written about subject this season. With the same results and 10 extra miles per hour on his best fastball, Howell is probably talked about as one of the best relievers in the division. If he becomes our version of Scott Downs, so be it. J.P. is really, really good.

Joe Nelson has been atrocious lately:

I really find it hard to believe he'll continue to give up 2.65 homeruns per nine when his career average is 1.2. Nelson's 19.2 HR/FB% is going to regress towards 11%, and unless he's hurt, I wouldn't put too much emphasis on these splits:

First 9 appearances: 10 IP, 12 K, 6 BB, 1 HR

Last 9 appearances: 7 IP, 5 K, 7 BB, 4 HR

Grant Balfour is getting ahead more:

Relative to last season, Balfour is throwing a tick more pitches inside the zone, getting ~4% more first-pitch strikes, and is having hitters make more contact outside of the strike zone. Balfour's BABIP is .354, his career BABIP is .309. Uh, regress quicker. Thanks.