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Mike Ekstrom and Lance Cormier Come Together Like Two Pieces of Metal

How can you tell that we're in the final two weeks of the off-season? Because Mike Ekstrom is getting entire posts devoted to him. Some random thoughts:

  • Ekstrom is a former starter who dabbled in relief work for the Portland Beavers last season. He averaged 5.71 batters faced per appearance. During his 2007 stint as a full-time starter, he averaged 23.8 batters faced per appearance, and once he arrived in San Diego as a full-time reliever, he averaged 6.9 batters faced per appearance. Why does that matter in the least? Well, last season Lance Cormier averaged 6.2 batters faced per appearance and a little over 7 per in 2008. Ekstrom's starter history combined with the fact that he's not as good as Cormier could lead to a little role reversal if both break camp in the pen.
  • When Ekstrom pitched last season, he did so usually in wo inning spurts. There's a difference between throwing two innings in one outing and throwing in back-to-back days - the latter of which the Rays heavily value* -- but his usage wasn't that of a ROOGY.
  • The Book states that leverage doesn't affect pitcher performances. So, if Cormier is really a 4 RA reliever, then he should be a 4 RA reliever whether he's pitching in low leverage or medium leverage situations. I don't doubt that this works out if the sample size is large enough, but as soon as Cormier blows a lead or two, watch for the torches and pitchforks to come out.
  • The transition may have began already, although this is going to look like a series of arbitrary periods, here's how Cormier's seasonal leverage index breaks down:

April: 18 IP 0.21 pLI

May: 19 IP, 0.86 pLI

June: 7 IP, 0.60 pLI

July: 11.1 IP, 0.26 pLI

August: 10 IP, 1.08 pLI

September/October:  12 IP, 1.50 pLI

  • Obviously 22 innings of data is going to come with some pretty huge error bars, but Cormier held a .716 OPS against in high leverage situations and a .641 OPS against in low leverage situations. That means pretty much nothing, so yeah.

*There's an entire chapter in the DRB Annual about Joe Maddon's managerial usage tendencies. Here's a spoiler: he loves changing pitchers. Hal McRae was essentially a managing atheist though.