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Derrick Turnbow…All-Star?

Madison residents caught in drive-time congestion on the Beltline on Thursday evening got a chance to listen to Heller and Murphy on ESPN Radio’s local affiliate, WTSO, both say that they thought Derrick Turnbow should make the NL All-Star squad (one later admitted that the odds of Tony La Russa selecting a set-up man was slim). Seeing as the wife has book club tonight, I thought I’d see if the numbers support Rock Star’s return to the Midsummer Classic.
First, let’s be brutally honest–rarely, if ever, does a middle reliever get chosen. Typically the 12 or so man squad is comprised of:
a) starting pitchers deserving of being there, and seeing playing time,
b) closers deserving of being there, and seeing playing time, and
c) starters selected because of the rule that you have to have at least one player per MLB club and on-hand in case of an emergency, e.g. extra innings (which we all know is a myth).
Then, let’s make some assumptions:
a) Were a middle reliever to be selected, he would bump a closer…not a starting pitcher, or a position player
b) The primary criteria would be a pitcher that could both have the best chance of getting strikeouts and be ready to pitch a full inning
Therefore, the criteria would then be: a pitcher with a better K/9 rate than a closer that would otherwise get chosen.
According to the good folks at ESPN.com, Turnbow is currently 23rd on the list of all NL pitchers, based on K/9, at 11.13. Probable All-Star closers ahead of Turnbow include:
* #11 Brett Myers @ 12.75 K/9
* #12 Francisco Cordero @ 12.64
* #18 Billy Wagner @ 11.57
* #20 Takashi Saito @ 11.48
* #21 Brad Lidge @ 11.42
Those behind him, however:
* #31 Jose Valverde @ 10.20
* #176 Trevor Hoffman @ 5.88
Again, let’s be brutally honest: Cordero deserves to be there, and Lidge, Saito and Valverde are strong candidates to be their teams’ lone representative (well, looks like Russell Martin will go from the Dodgers). Unfortunately, Trevor Hoffman has the “rep” and could get picked, too.
But what about other middle relievers? The Giants’ Jonathan Sanchez comes in at #13 with a 12.34 K/9…and a better BB/9, too–2.00 to Turnbow’s 3.08 (his WHIP, at 1.50, is far worse than Turnbow’s 1.08, however)…plus he’s from the host city and La Russa may be hard pressed to find anyone else on the Giants he likes better (well, okay, he’ll cave in to pressure and put Barry on the squad…geesh).
Helping Turnbow’s cause are some other splits:
* #3 hitters hit only .231 against him
* #4 hitters …just .176
* #5 hitters…a measley .130
…not sure how the other guys’ splits stack up…but most of the AL All-Stars will probably be #3-#5 guys on their clubs.
But, alas, La Russa will probably want a few situational lefties on hand, too.