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Friday, February 05, 2010
Kevin Gregg looking for rebound with Toronto Blue JaysPosted by Tommy Rancel at 6:00am
Kevin Gregg has quietly remained available on the market while watching other closers and set-up men find new addresses. With two weeks until pitchers and catchers report, Gregg has settled on a new home and will take his slider and sunglasses north to Toronto. Although the deal isn't final at this hour, Gregg is expected to finalize a one-year contract worth a reported $2.75 million dollars with the Blue Jays. There is also some option years included that could push the deal over the $10 million dollar mark.
Nearly $3 million dollars seems like a pretty penny to pay a man who lost his closers role mid-season and finished the season with an ERA 4.72. However, there is more than meets the eye with Gregg’s 2009 season. Looking at his peripheral stats, he enjoyed one of his better seasons. The 9.31 strikeouts per nine innings was one-tenth off of his career high of 9.32 and his 3.93 walks per nine was the lowest total he’s put up since 2006.
Gregg’s 2009 struggles came in the form of the home run. After allowing just 10 home runs over the previous two seasons with the Marlins, he served up 13 round trippers in his only years with the Cubs. I guess after allowing back to back seasons with a home-run to fly-ball rate of under six percent, the baseball gods served some extra regression his Mr. Gregg’s plate. His HR/9 of 1.70 was easily a career high as was his HR/FB of 15.3%. This led helped contribute to that ugly ERA and an even uglier 4.93 FIP.
According to LIP ERA, Gregg received nearly a half run extra on his ERA. LIPS had him pegged at a 4.2 ERA with a xHR/FB nearly 5% less than his real total. For comparisons, he had an xFIP of 4.18 which jives with the previous sentence.
Trying to look for other theories other than some bad mojo, I did notice that Gregg used his slider nearly 10% more than his career average (up 5% year over year) and threw less fastballs than normal. That’s strange since his fastball has historically been his best pitch according to pitch values. I also noticed he lost a little over velocity across the board.
Whatever the reason behind the home run barrage, it’s not likely to last. And like the end of last season, Gregg is not going to be asked to close in Toronto; at least not right away.
With Jason Frasor and Scott Downs in the mix, Gregg is now the third wheel. However, at his salary, I would guess that the Blue Jays may expect a little more than just setting up. If the expected regression in home runs takes place, I would expect his FIP to settle in around 3.80.
Over the course of 70 innings, that would make him nearly a 1 WAR reliever. If the Jays are not contending in mid-July, which they aren’t expected to, at a relatively modest price, Gregg could be an attractive name to a contender at the deadline. As a fantasy target, he’s definitely of a name to keep your eye on as the back of the Jays bullpen takes form.
Tommy Rancel is the Editor-In-Chief of DRaysBay as well as a contributor at Beyond the Box Score
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