By Tommy Rancel //
Octavio Dotel‘s tour of the major leagues continues. After splitting 2010 between three teams (Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies), Dotel joined his 11th organization by signing a one-year deal (with 2012 team option) with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Jays – like many teams – are in the process of remodeling their bullpen. They lost Scott Downs to the Los Angeles Angels and lost their 2009 closer Kevin Gregg as well (to the Orioles). Dotel will likely assume Gregg’s closer role, with Jason Frasor returning to Toronto as his set-up man.
Over his 12-year career, Dotel has served in a variety of roles. In fact, he is one of just four major leaguers to start at least 15 games and save 15 games in the same season. However, over the past nine seasons his work has come exclusively as a mid-to-late-inning reliever. Bouncing from city to city, he has notched 105 career saves, including 22 this past season.
We’ve used the term “three-outcome hitter” to describe players who take a lot of walks, hit a lot of home runs, and strike out a lot. This also describes Octavio Dotel. His career strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) rate of 10.95 is extremely impressive. So much so that he and Billy Wagner are the only pitchers in major league history to own a career K/9 of 10.95 or greater, with a minimum of 800 innings pitched.
The strikeouts are great, but there are those walks and home runs. In his career Dotel has walked 4.05 batters per nine innings (BB/9). He has also allowed more than a home run per nine innings (HR/9) with a career rate of 1.10. But because of his ability escape jams via swings and misses, he has been able to maintain a career ERA of 3.75.
One big red flag on Dotel as a closer is his platoon splits. Teams generally prefer a closer who is effective against both lefties and righties, to avoid late inning match-up problems. Dotel has the right-handed part down, as he has limited batters of his same hand to a slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) of .205/.279/.375. But his OPS against left-handed batters rises to .754. Over the past three seasons, he has allowed 11 home runs to LHB in just 60.1 innings. This could be a major problem in the left-handed heavy American League East.
Dotel projects as one of the worst closer options in your 2011 draft. He’ll get picked up for his saves, even in standard mixed leagues. But a 37-year-old who can’t get lefties out, tangling with the likes of Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and others is a scary proposition. If you do draft Dotel, do it in the late rounds. And then keep Frasor in mind as a handcuff, as Dotel may not last the year as the Jays’ closer.