Pianowski reveals trick to finding future closers

Scott Pianowsk reveals a simple trick to identify future high-leverage relievers and closers who seemingly come out of nowhere.

Video Transcript

DJ SHORT: I went through my team last year, what I drafted. And I actually got Steven Kwan in the reserve rounds when he was really kind of off the radar. I mean, a lot of those reserve picks didn't work out. But that was one where it's kind of like in that-- I'm not saying Spencer Steer is going to be Steven Kwan or whatever.

But by the end of the year, you're going to look at one of these players and be like, wow, we didn't see that coming. I certainly didn't see that coming even when I took Steven Kwan last year. But you take a chance on some of these skills. And every once in a while, you'll see, a year later, Steven Kwan is a top 125 player on most draft boards.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: You don't need to hit on many of these for it to be worthwhile. And of course, you're going to turn over the back of your roster anyway. You're going to be aggressive with that. And these are not-- these are speculative plays, a lot of them. And you'll end up cutting them if they give you a reason to cut them. And there'll be something shiny.

You have to work on the new information. There's going to be-- another thing I like to do-- I'll give you a little in-season tip. This is a relief pitcher tip. It's so simple, and it works every year.

Three or four weeks into the season, just look on your waiver wire. And find a couple of relievers who have like 1 walk and 13 strikeouts who you've never heard of. And sometimes they turn into, like, Nick Anderson, who was really good for a couple of years. These guys-- these relief pitchers come out of nowhere.

Paul Sewald reinvented himself a couple of years ago. And you might think, oh, I remember that guy. He couldn't start. All relievers pretty much are failed starters. Nobody comes into baseball-- with a very rare exception-- Houston Street was a closer in college. But Jonathan Papelbon quickly became a relief pitcher for the Red Sox. But for the most part, any pitching prospect is meant to be a starter. And the relief is the plan B.

DJ SHORT: Mm-hmm.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: Just look at your waiver wire a month into the season. And then look at the walks and strikeouts. And you'll be able to scoop up guys because nobody's ever heard of this guy, or he was terrible last year, year before. Maybe he's coming off Tommy John. Maybe he's changed his pitch mix, which they're always doing.


SCOTT PIANOWSKI: Every year you can find these relief heroes. And all you've got to do is be a little bit proactive, give it a little time, walks and strikeouts. You talk about what stats have meaning quickly, walks and strikeouts stabilize very, very quickly, both for hitters and pitchers.

So about three or four weeks in is the sweet spot where you want to really start grinding those stats. That would have also gotten to Steven Kwan last year. I wasn't like you.


SCOTT PIANOWSKI: I didn't see Kwan coming before the season. But in-season, when you saw it, well, this guy walks more than he strikes out, which is such a rare thing in today's game. We knew that skill would play the whole season, and it did.