No Foulkeing Way – Foulke Shuts Down Opposition

Keith Foulke is absolutely locked in right now — 12 straight appearances without a run.
To come in two nights in a row and face Edmonds, who is a great hitter, in a jam and strike him out twice — with fastballs — is astonishing. I never knew Foulke was this tough. He’s got the makeup of a hockey player … which by the way is his favorite sport. He’s a quiet guy, but he has great reliever makeup and is one of the toughest players in the game. He outpitched Mariano Rivera in the ALCS and has been incredible in the first two games of this series. (Peter Gammons)

During the game, it was mentioned that Keith Foulke had a 0.00 ERA since September 24th.
Can we officially add Keith Foulke to the Top Three Best Closers in the Game Today? Mariano Rivera, Eric Gagne (unproven in postseason) and Keith Foulke.
What makes it more amazing is that Keith Foulke does not have an overpowering fastball like Gagne, or cut fastball like Rivera. He can’t blow it by the hitters, nor can he afford to give the batter good contact. He lives and dies by his changeup and his fastball does not reach much higher than 90. This means that he has to do his best to strike out the batters or have them chase a bad pitch, resulting in poor contact. Not only that’ but Foulke is a horse. This past year, his SIP was 0.39. Last year, that would have made him fourth in the majors in SIP standings – very impressive. Not only that, but that actually works in Foulke’s favor – Mariano, Gagne, all these pitchers – they wear down. Not only can Foulke work for days and days and not have it affect him velocity-wise, he’s already used to the loss of velocity!
As a matter of fact, I started writing this yesterday. Wouldn’t you know it, three hours after I table the column to finish today, the AP runs with a story about how good Foulke is. Let’s draw some quotes from said story:

“I appreciate you bringing that up. That’s always a great sign,” he said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “I’ve learned from my past playoffs where I didn’t pitch so well. I’m just going out there and trying not to make mistakes.”

“It’s easy to be consistent when you have guys down in the bullpen like we have. We keep each other in check,” lefty Alan Embree said. “We’ve done well together all year – it’s not just the playoffs.”

“I think he’s starting to get his credit now,” teammate Kevin Millar said. “He doesn’t blow the radar guns away, but he spots his 88 mph fastball as well as anyone in baseball.”

OK, somehow, MLB and AP must have gotten wind of my story, as MLB attempts to steal the Foulke story too.

FACTS MACHINE
Boston reliever Keith Foulke has been lights-out in the 2004 postseason, carrying a 0.00 ERA in 12 innings of work:
Series IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA

While Curt Schilling winning Game 6 of the ALCS and Game 2 of the World Series on his gimpy right ankle might wind up the lasting image of this October for the Red Sox, Foulke’s 100 pitches in a span of three days, in Games 4, 5 and 6 of the ALCS, should be right up there.

To teach the AP a lesson, I stole a picture of Keith Foulke. MLB was summarily taught a lesson also by having its table taken (and made a lot better looking I may add). Let that be a lesson to them.
Back to Foulke.
Foulke, like Mariano Rivera, is the key to the Sox’s hopes. No Foulke (or Rivera) and no hopes. The Yankees won the division behind Rivera – everybody knows this. But get this – the Red Sox won the ALCS behind Foulke. And so far, Foulke has shut the Cardinals down the final frames to nail down the victories. If we want to win this Series, we will, rest assured, need to turn to Foulke. Heck, look at this – Foulke has 12 IP, 2 SV. That’s a .16 SIP for Foulke, and that doesn’t even BEGIN (but it certainly helps) to describe how valuable Foulke has been to this team.
Scouting Report on Foulke prior to the 2004 season:

As a closer, it works for Foulke to rely on a good low-90s fastball and an even better changeup to get hitters out, as he rarely faces more than six hitters in an appearance. He generally is solid against righthanded hitters, but he was even more deadly against lefties in 2003. Foulke’s control was back to form last year, as his strikeout-walk ratio reveals. And he obviously was around the plate, as the number of homers he allowed jumped to 10, one fewer than his career single-season high. Foulke also allowed nearly twice as many flyballs as groundballs, a decided change in his stats, so maybe the homers make sense. (ESPN)

Very interesting – “[Foulke] rarely faces more than six hitters in an appearance.” How interesting. Apparently this is no longer the case. Foulke has been very good being stretched out (as he was this year – lower SIP as compared to last year) and now he’s a true blue … relief ace. Foulke thinks of himself not as a closer, but as a relief pitcher, in Bill James’ finest example. James did not advocate a bullpen by committee. He advocated (and I agree) a relief ace – who gets the bulk of all the dangerous outs, which just so happen to be at the end of the game! Is this not how Foulke is being used?
All I know is that when opposing batters see him come in to “Danzig” (all I know is the band, not the song, want to help me out?) – the batters say one word. Then when leaving the batter’s box after another out, they say another word.
“Foulke!”