Is Jacob Lindgren Closer Material For The New York Yankees?
In Year one A.M. (After Mo) the Yankees’ bullpen did not miss a beat. In Year two, 2014 draftee, Jacob Lindgren, needs to chip in and keep the ship afloat. The 2013 season saw failed starting pitching prospect, Dellin Betances, author one of the greatest relief seasons of all time. In doing so, he stakes a claim as closer of the future. Adam Warren, former back of the rotation starting pitching prospect, improved on a solid 2013 major league debut as a reliever. And David Robertson, after years of serving as the setup man for Mariano Rivera, was excellent in his first year as the team’s closer. Unfortunately for the Yankees, as quickly as Robertson established himself as closer, free agency may find him in another uniform next season. As the Yankees consider what to do with Robertson, Lindgren looms large.
Lindgren is strictly a two-pitch pitcher. The left-hander sets hitters up with his fastball and goes to the slider for strikeouts via swings-and-misses. While most, if not all, scouting reports have Jacob Lindgren with a fastball ranging from 91 to 94 miles per hour, plus velocity failed to show up against the Bowie Baysox. Instead, Lindgren’s fastball was 88-91 miles per hour. Despite being a converted starter, the left-hander’s previous career high for innings pitched was 56 in 2013. In 2014, he pitched 55.1 innings of relief for Mississippi State before adding another 25 innings after signing. It is possible Lindgren’s velocity was down due to late season fatigue.
Despite its average velocity, the 2014 first rounder’s fastball was an effective pitch for two reasons. First, his fastball is incapable of coming in straight. Lindgren’s fastball both sinks and runs to the arm side. As a result, though Jacob Lindgren did not do a great job locating the fastball, hitters could not square up the elusive pitch. In 25 innings of minor league work, Lindgren totaled 27 ground ball outs and zero fly ball outs with the heater.
Lindgren’s slider is a devastating low-80’s pitch. It has two-plane break, diving down-and-in on right-handed batters and running away from left-handers. It made right-handed batters look silly as they repeatedly swung at pitches off their shoe tops. Left-handed batters similarly struggled to identify the break of the pitch and swung over balls bound for the dirt in the right-handed batters box. The only effective approach against the slider was to recognize it early and lay off entirely. The Baysox batters were unable to do this so Lindgren relied heavily on the slider.
While Lindgren was drafted this calendar year, he figures to have immediate 2015 impact. He has no chance at the closer role and saves unless several things go wrong for the Yankee,s but lacking a defined role will make him more valuable in other ways. While Joe Girardi hasn’t reached Ned Yost levels of rigidity with his bullpen, he tends to use his more established relievers in consistent spots. Younger relievers are used more flexibly and this often involves multi-inning appearances and a greater opportunity to accrue value. Witness Adam Warren’s 77 innings in just 34 appearances in 2013 or Dellin Betances’ 55.1 innings in 40 first half appearances this past year. Jacob Lindgren had several multi-inning appearances in 2014, and it is likely the Yankees will treat him like a bullpen handyman when he arrives in MLB.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Ace Reliever Fastball 45 55 Slider 60 70 Control 40 50 Command 40 50
OWNING JACOB LINDGREN
Depending on the type of dynasty fantasy baseball league, saves and/or holds will be utilized. Plus, relievers who log 70-plus innings with the ability to strike out more than a batter per inning also provide sneak value — especially if he’s able to keep the free passes in check. Entering 2015, the best case scenario for Jacob Lindgren is for him to become the best left-handed pitcher in a bullpen lacking options. If this happens, expect him to pile up holds and hawk a handful of saves. Plus, the potential of being used liberally can result in a heavy workload and plenty of strikeouts. For now, the primary concern is his command and if Jacob Lindgren attacks hitters at the upper levels and brings down upper level walk rates. If he blows up in spring training, the chance exists for him to break camp with the team which is a rarity. – Mike Newman
28 Oct 2014 / Fabian McNally / 3
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