after is'hausen's 1st appearance this season -- a skin-of-teeth "save" against the phillies in the 2d game of the schedule -- i more or less offered to catalogue izzy's 2006 appearances by the degree of nervousness they induce :
i propose the following cataloguing method -- subject to comments and suggestions from all of you:
- a "shutdown" save is one in which izzy retires the side in order.
- a "solid save" is one in which nobody advances into scoring position
- a "shaky save" is one in which either a) at least one run scores, or b) the tying run advances into scoring position.
- a "cliffhanger" is one where the winning run advances into scoring position.
and then of course there's the plain old "blown save." and there's "departs game with injury."
before i do that, however, i have to lay out a revised filing system, with three add'l categories to plug gaps in the original. i sorted only the save opportunities, which account for all but three of izzy's appearances, and placed each into one of 7 folders:
shutdown save -- side is retired without a hit, walk, or hit batsman
solid save -- a baserunner gets on but does not advance into scoring position
standard save -- a runner advances into scoring position but a) does not represent the tying run, and b) is stranded
shaky save -- either a) the tying run advances into scoring position, or b) at least one run scores
cliffhanger -- the go-ahead run advances into scoring position
blown save -- the tying run scores, but not the go-ahead run
- hose job -- the cardinals fall behind
all of which is to say that any game in categories 1 through 3 -- shutdown through standard -- is an acceptable performance from a top-shelf closer.
ok, now that we've built up the suspense (just like izzy, right? draw it out as long as you can), let's take a look. through 63 games and 25 save opportunities, isringhausen has registered
- 7 shutdown saves
- 4 solid saves
- 4 standard saves
- 4 shaky saves
- 2 cliffhangers
- 2 blown saves
- 2 hose jobs
then came the first week of june, and the blown save vs the cubs -- abetted by rolen's uncharacteristic error -- followed by the meltdown vs the reds, izzy's first "hose job" outing in nearly two months. but who remembers is'hausen's two saves over the weekend against milwaukee? if you took a poll, i bet half the respondents would remember them as typically wobbly is'hausen outings; but in fact he turned in two "shutdown" saves, including his first four-out save of the year.
i'm not saying that is'hausen's struggles don't concern me; they do. but they're isolated incidents. he had a terrible week to open the season and a terrible week to open june; other than that he has been outstanding. he is quick to make adjustments and adapt his approach to fit whatever is working for him at a given time. early in the year he saved a couple of games with almost nothing but his curveball, the only pitch that was remotely effective; once he got his fastball back and started getting a better feel for the cutter, he was largely unbeatable. the cutter misbehaved again on this last homestand, causing the two blown games, so he has banished it to its room and is throwing straight fastballs for the time being. call me nuts, but i still have confidence in the guy.
is he overpaid? absolutely. but the closer position is one that i think it makes sense to overspend on when tony la russa is your manager. he has never, ever won without an established closer -- a veteran with a proven track record. the presence of that automatic 9th-inning guy is tony's insurance policy; it gives him license to run through four relievers from the 6th through the 8th, playing the percentages and shielding his setup guys from adverse matchups. it's an expensive formula, but it has worked -- and it's largely working this season. here is izzy's game log, for anybody who wants to nose around in this further.
i'll keep the catalogue current moving forward; look for it in the perfect world box.