12 July 2011
On several Diamondbacks' blogs, such as at AZ Snakepit, there has been a lot of outrage about the presence of Yhency Brazoban on the Diamondbacks' Major League Roster. I think this dislike of Brazoban is a little unfair, and he has actually been pitched decently this year. Here are some facts to consider about Brazoban:
- It has only been 6 IP, but his FIP with the Diamondbacks is 3.46, and his xFIP is 2.46. His only really bad outing was when he had to pitch a 2nd inning (because of a depleted bullpen) against the Cardinals, and even then, giving up a HR to Albert Pujols is hardly a disgrace. Brazoban does have 8K/2BB in his 6 IP. He has been a little unlucky with a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .412 in Arizona.
- Brazoban's ERA in AAA Reno was 2.70. Calling him up ahead of guys like Kameron Mickolio (3.92), Esmerling Vasquez (4.50), Jordan Norberto (4.50), Daniel Stange (5.22) and Bryan Shaw (5.52) is prefectably justifiable.
- Brazoban has always shown strikeout stuff. He has a career rate of 9.9K/9 in the Minors, and has been over 10K/9 for the last two seasons. Along with recent call-up Alberto Castillo, he has been the best strikeout reliever in Reno this year. At the Major League level, Brazoban has a good career rate of 8.0K/9.
- Brazoban's career FIP in the Majors, over 121 IP, is a respectable 4.29. That's not fantastic, but it is certainly acceptable for a pitcher in the back end of a Major League bullpen.
- Although Brazoban is already 31 years old, he is still fairly new to pitching. Most people probably don't realize that Brazoban was drafted as an outfielder by the Yankees, and spent his first four years as a position player, batting .276/.319/.394 over 1181 AB. He was converted to a full time pitcher in 2003, at the age of 23, and found himself in the Majors just one year later with the Dodgers.
- Brazoban has had some success in the Majors. In 2004, his rookie year, he had a solid season for the Dodgers, compiling a 2.48 ERA over 32.2 IP. He became the Dodgers' closer in 2005, and did save 21 games, but he struggled with the Home Run ball, and eventually was sent back to the Minors.
- Injuries wiped out almost the entire 2007-2009 seasons for Brazoban, as he only managed to pitch 43 IP over three years. But he came back in 2010, first in the Mexican League and then with the Mets' AAA club in Buffalo, and struck out 91 batters over 83.1 IP while allowing only 5 HR. He began 2011 with the Rangers' AAA affiliate in Round Rock before being acquired by the Diamondbacks. His 2011 totals in AAA are a 3.22 ERA with 42K/14BB in 36.1 IP. He still has the strikeout stuff he had shown earlier in his career.
- He had a cool nickname when he closed with the Dodgers, "Ghame Over", a play on the "Game Over" nickname used by their previous closer, Eric Gagne.
I am not suggesting that Yhency Brazoban is going to be the savior of the Diamondbacks' bullpen. But he has been a decent pitcher for the team, both in AAA and at the Major League level. Like most pitchers at the back of a Major League bullpen, he may find himself on the AAA Shuttle after a couple of bad outings. But I think his presence on the team is perfectly understandable - he was pitching as well as anyone else in the Reno Bullpen, and he has been OK at the Major League level. At least he can get some strikeouts out of the bullpen.