The title of the article is an allusion to Schott’s Miscellany, which you should definitely check out if you never have and feel compelled to know that a group of larks is called an exaltation or that a member of the 32nd degree of Freemasonry is known as a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret.
—Enrique Burgos Speculation–
Even though Addison Reed had just lost his closer job, I didn’t think much of the fact that rookie reliever Enrique Burgos received the save for the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, his second of the season. As Benjamin Pasinkoff pointed out in the Bullpen Report, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale told reporters that Brad Ziegler was his closer but that he wanted to avoid using him in that game since he had thrown 27 pitches the previous day. But then I happened upon the FanGraphs strikeouts per nine leaders for relievers so far this season.
Starting at the 10th-highest and moving up, we have a closer, a closer, a closer, the No. 2 man behind another reliever on the list, a closer, a former elite closer, a closer, a closer fill-in, and a closer. Ahead of all of them? Enrique Burgos.
You don’t have to dig very deep to find flaws with Burgos, starting with his 6.2 walks per nine that do not even stand out relative to his minor league track record. Kiley McDaniel identified command as a major concern for Burgos, but a really fast fastball can sometimes make up for a lot of other flaws, like poor command or a lack of quality secondary pitches, both of which apply to Burgos.
In addition to the strikeout rate, the reason to speculate on Burgos is the lack of other great options in the Diamondbacks’ bullpen. With Evan Marshall’s collapse this season, no other reliever is within striking distance of a strikeout per nine.
Nominal closer Brad Ziegler has a pretty 1.04 ERA, but he misses the fewest bats of all of them and has a wOBA against 82 points higher versus left-handed hitters than right-handed hitters in his career. Burgos has not fared well against lefties either, but 11.2 career innings are too few to reliably split.
With just four saves as a team this season—tied for the lowest total in baseball with the Marlins—it’s unclear how relevant any Diamondbacks reliever can be in fantasy. However, if anyone could become an elite option, it’s Burgos not Ziegler. At their current paces, Burgos would provide 103 strikeouts in 60 innings compared to 38 for Ziegler. That 65-strikeout advantage is the same that Madison Bumgarner had over Jason Hammel last season. Sixty-five strikeouts were two more than Jonathan Papelbon had last season.
Burgos is a risky play even in deeper formats because of the threat his command represents to your ratios, but his upside is such that he is worth a speculative add even in shallower formats with decent-sized benches. Very little stands between him and save opportunities, and even moderate improvements in his walk rate could safeguard his strikeout-driven ERA.
Scott Spratt is a fantasy sports writer for FanGraphs and Pro Football Focus. He is a Sloan Sports Conference Research Paper Competition and FSWA award winner. Feel free to ask him questions on Twitter – @Scott_Spratt