In a development that shocked and delighted baseball fans everywhere – or at least those frequenting a very small section of the internet – Effectively Wild icons Ryan Webb and Matt Albers actually appeared on both the podcast and in a Ben Lindbergh Grantland article this week to talk about the record which they have so unrelentingly (and largely unwittingly) broken: total games finished without ever recording a save. To commemorate this historic event, Banished to the Pen present this Webb-Albers Championship update with a particular focus on the eponymous relievers.
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It’s been nothing but good news for Commissioner Austin since he took the lead in the standings in June. Fernando Abad has rounded into career form after a slow start, adding 60 more points with seven games finished and just one blown save, in the seventh inning against Baltimore last week. He now sits on 62 career games finished and still has no saves, putting him just one GF behind joint third-place Jose Mijares and Carlos Almanzar. He is on course to have his third consecutive season of at least 17 GFWAS. Zach Putnam has also added 60, with 50 more coming from Giants lefty Javier Lopez. Jeanmar Gomez has not continued his incredible pace from the first half, but is still tied for the league lead in points on 140, and has the most GFWAS of any reliever this season, at 19.
Behind the Proven Finishers, Nathan White continues to hold on to second place, but has the slenderest of margins over Seth Rubin’s Buddy Carlyle. Antonio Bastardo and Justin De Fratus have both had very nice seasons for White, reaching the 100 point mark and steadily racking up games finished in every month of the year, although Bastardo has a blemish on his record: a July 8th save against the Padres. Rubin’s star has been Mets right-hander Carlos Torres, another 60-point gainer in the second half who has 15 games finished in total this season. Torres sadly saved two games in 2014, preventing him from mounting a challenge for third-place all-time.
Elsewhere, Pat Creighton’s squad have had the second-best performance since our last update, propelling him closer to the chasing pack after a very slow start. Darren O’Day, Jared Hughes and Eric O’Flaherty have combined to add 130 points to Pat’s total, with the other 20 coming from the Tigers’ Al Alburquerque. However, the action that everyone really came here to read about is all happening on Paul Lachowich’s team, where Ryan Webb and Matt Albers have combined for 100 points since the start of July.
Webb’s performance for Cleveland over that span has been stellar, by both standard and GFWAS measures: eleven appearances, 14.2 IP, 6 GF, a 1.23 ERA with a .462 OPS against and, of course, no saves. Webb even threw in a two-inning game-finishing performance in a loss to the Angels on August 3rd. He also hasn’t walked a batter for a month. The 29-year-old is tied for 28th in WAR amongst relievers without a save at 0.7 – a leaderboard I know we all Play Index on a regular basis – despite only making his first appearance on April 30th.
Albers made his first appearance after coming off the DL on July 19th in another superb example of game-finishing. Coming in to face the AL-leading Royals, the White Sox righty bailed out some hapless starter called Chris Sale in the seventh with two groundouts, then tossed another two scoreless innings to claim the GF (the White Sox lost 4-1, if you care about such things). Since then, Albers has three more GF, including an extra-inning two-frame win over the Angels last week, and a perfect inning in last night’s loss. He currently sits tied for 49th on the aforementioned WAR leaderboard, but at barely over 20 innings pitched, he’ll surely be climbing well up the charts over the final six weeks.
The excitement will continue to build as Webb, now at 97, closes in on 100 GFWAS, an event that will presumably – should Terry Francona not decide to troll us all and screw it up – be marked by at least as much fanfare as moments such as the fall of the all-time home run record or Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit. For manager Lachowich, the only regret is that Marco Estrada, Ryan Madson, Sam Dyson and Jeremy Jeffress simply have not been able to show the GFWAS acumen and sheer will to finish that only Ryan Webb and Matt Albers, unsung heroes of the bullpen, baseball and indeed all of sports history, possess.
Thanks as always to the indispensable Baseball-Reference Play Index, to Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller for somehow securing an interview with the duo, and of course to Ryan Webb and Matt Albers themselves, for finishing lots of games without getting any saves, and taking this fairly bizarre perspective on their careers in good humour.Next post: BttP Podcast: Ep 30 – Alec Denton & Alex Hume
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