MLB Trade Rumors lists nine free agent eligible left-handed relievers, but I found a tenth and he’s ranked number one.
1. Dontrelle Willis (30) – Look, he’s not a starter anymore. The sooner teams realize this the better. Despite the fact that Willis has appeared in a relief role only once in his major league career (not counting postseason play), he has posted absolutely dominant numbers against left-handed batters. In 65.2 innings in 2010, Willis posted 12.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 against lefties. He has even better against lefties this past season, posting 10.6 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9, good for a 10/1 K/BB ratio in 75.2 innings. I suggested that teams view Willis this way before last season’s free agent frenzy. I’ll do so again this offseason.
2. Darren Oliver (41) – Unfortunately for Oliver, he profiles as a type-A free agent. Despite the fact that he has put up an ERA under three every season since the start of 2008, teams should be reluctant to part with a first round draft pick to acquire the 41 year old. It’s possible that the Rangers offer arbitration and that Oliver accepts. or they work out a one-year deal in order to avoid arbitration all together.
3. Mike Gonzalez (34) – A lack of command has hurt Gonzalez over the past few seasons, but he has been highly effective against lefties over his career, posting a 2.82 xFIP against 516 total lefties faced. As long as teams view him as a lefty-on-lefty guy capable of facing the occasional right-handed batter, he should find more than one offer.
4. George Sherrill (35) – After a disastrous 2010, Sherrill bounced back nicely in 36 innings with the Braves. He faced 81 left handed hitters in 2011 and struck out 32 of them, a 39.5 percent strikeout rate. His season ended early due to inflammation in his pitching elbow, but if he can prove to be healthy heading into 2012, there is sure to be a few teams looking to give Sherrill a shot as their go-to LOOGY.
5. J.C. Romero (36) – Romero can still do a decent job of keeping the ball on the ground, but his control has been poor throughout his career. His velocity has regressed for three straight seasons.
6. Arthur Rhodes (41) – A two MPH drop in velocity across the board really affected Rhodes’s numbers. He struggled against both lefties and righties and allowed eight home runs in only 33 innings. He’ll need to show improved velocity to garner much interest in 2012.
7. John Garbow (33) – Garbow wasn’t effective against righties or lefties in 2011 and his fastball velocity as dropped for two straight seasons.
8. Damaso Marte (37) – Before suffering a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, Marte was very effective against left-handed batters. I’d rank him above Garbow if I knew his arm would be 100 percent going into 2012.
9. Trever Miller (39) – Miller has thrown a total of 57.1 major league innings over the last two seasons, walking 28 and striking out 34. That equals a very poor 1.2 K/BB ratio.
10. Brian Tallet (34) – After xFIPs of over five for the last two seasons, Tallet isn’t likely to get much more than an invite to spring training.