Friday, April 01, 2011

Pauly's Pickup of the Week: Takashi Saito

posted by Pauly
Time to throw out those multi-sheet projections (better yet, recycle them)....it was opening day yesterday, which means it's time to start going on some real numbers.

When you have 6 total MLB games to go on, the player pool for the first pickup of the week is rather thin, but thanks to Ramon Hernandez, it was pretty easy to pick the first one - Brewers RP Takashi Saito.

Heading into the season on those projection sheets, John Axford looked pretty decent -- he was a good strikeout guy last season and was very successful in the closer's role, converting 24 of 27. What a difference a day makes, as the second-year pitcher got utterly torched with an inherited three-run lead, looked bad doing it, and the debacle was capped by a three-run walk-off HR courtesy of the light-hitting Hernandez.

Yes, it is just one game, and yes, Axford only gave up one HR in 58 innings last year, but -- in all honesty -- my eye was on Saito even before this mess.

Saito may be flying under the radar because of his more limited (than he is used to) role with the Braves last season. Even so, he was still extremely effective (2.83 ERA and 1.07 WHIP) -- something that happens with Saito just about every season. Take away his one year with the Red Sox (the year his closer role was stripped away), and the career WHIP is in the 1.05 range.

Let's not forget that Saito was a big-time closer for the Dodgers for three straight years from '06-'09, where he averaged 20-plus saves with some of the best ratios you could hope for; and not only that, but he is also a true contributor in Ks for an RP. Yesterday Saito came into the 8th inning with a 3-run lead and gave up two singles, but he also struck out two and got out of the inning unscathed.

For all Axford accomplished last season, he is still not the most experienced closer on Milwaukee. If you aren't willing to take Saito now for the ERA, WHIP and Ks, you'd best keep an eye on him and Axford in Milwaukee.

I will be on the road in Vegas next Friday, so Pauly's Pickups of the Week will next appear on Monday April 11. From then on, this column will appear on Fridays. --Pauly
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