You generally need three things to be a useful fantasy closer: ability, opportunity, and moxie. Oh well, Eddie Guardado, two out of three ain't bad.
You know all about the opportunity in Texas (C.J. Wilson is likely done for the year), and Guardado's moxie is well established - he's recorded 186 saves over 16 pro seasons. We've grown up with Guardado, we like the guy. He's even got a catchy nickname, "Everyday Eddie." But if you take an objective audit of the skills here, with your eyes or with your calculator, you won't see a pretty picture.
At first glance the numbers hold up, on the surface anyway. A 3.02 ERA, good, a WHIP under 1, even better. Three saves, no blown saves, check. Just 30 hits allowed in 44.2 innings. The crafty veteran is getting it done, right?
Ah, but you look under the hood and you see the smoke-and-mirror show. Guardado is striking out just 5.24 batters/9 innings - that's not acceptable. His BABIP is a stunning .213, far and away the lowest it's been his entire career. That's unsustainable. His fly-ball rate (55%) is a major red flag, and the fact that only three of those fly balls have turned into homers, that's a monstrous fluke. Throw all of Guardado's component stats into a blender, mix well, and pour: out comes an expected 4.96 ERA, almost two runs greater than the number he's trading at. (Thanks, Hardball Times). A correction should be coming soon, and it's going to leave a mark.
Opponents are hitting just .169 off Guardado at home, but Arlington will collect its tax eventually. After a slow start the ball has started jumping in Texas - the park is handing out 13 runs a game (and beer cups) since mid-May - and Guardado can't play dodgeball forever. Fatigue could also come into play; the veteran lefty recently worked seven times in a nine-day stretch, and we're talking about a 38-year-old who's less than two years removed from a Tommy John surgery.
Okay, maybe you're not a numbers guy, fine. Let's roll the tape and take a look at the thoroughly-unimpressive arsenal he's got left at this stage of his career. Guardado is trying to do his mound surgery with velocity in the 80s (and modest movement), but gravity always wins. He's not going to skate by on mediocre stuff forever. I probably could have saved 400 words on this entry by simply running Andy Behrens's email comment about Guardado this morning: "I've never been able to figure out exactly how or why he gets people out." Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
With that, the prosecution rests. Guardado's luck figures to run out sooner or later, and I'm betting on sooner. Let's lock in those profits now. Someone in your league needs a closer, right? Announce that you want to move a reliever, and let them come to Guardado. Sell the ERA, move that WHIP, emphasize the role change, reminisce about the good old days. The window is still open.
Photo via AP