I once read that in the sea of mediocrity, the guy with his own jet ski is king, or something. The Giants’ bullpen is by no means mediocre – all things considered, the relievers have done an admirable job – but, I still get a little twitchy in the late innings. I say that because I mostly know that no matter the situation, there’s a Brad Penny lurking somewhere, ready to do horrible things.
So, that’s why I wanted to give a tip of the hat to George Kontos. Kontos, the right-handed reliever acquired in the Chris Stewart trade, has pitched amazingly for the Giants and their bullpen.
Three things that I like about Kontos:
1. His picture from Google makes him look like a real estate agent:
Hi, I’m George Kontos, and I’d just love to get you into a starter home at low, low rates! I dare say that this picture is bordering on dapperocity.
2. He’s throws strikes:
Nothing grinds my gears like a reliever that comes into a baseball game and can’t throw strikes. Fortunately, Kontos has pounded the strike zone this year. Here’s a heat map detailing Kontos’ pitch frequency.
In my life, I’ve sat through 140 innings, or so, of Jack Taschner’s pitching. I remember watching Jason Christiansen try to futilely find the strike zone. Those things will change a man. Those things will make me appreciate anyone that can throw strikes.
3. His slider is pretty awesome:
“Awesome” is kind of vague, but Kontos’ slider has been a great pitch thus far. Here’s another set of heat maps for your eye balls: the first is Kontos’ slider and how often right-handed batters swing at the pitch (with a league comparison) and the second is how often RHBs make contact with the pitch (again, versus a league comparison).
When Kontos gets his slider down-and-away in the strike zone, it’s a great pitch. It seems that RHBs really have a hard time laying off the pitch.
We’re running into SSS territory with a reliever that’s only thrown 17 innings on the season, but Kontos’ slider looks legit. Kontos has faced 45 RHBs this season and he’s struck out 12 of them; that’s good for a 10.13 strikeouts-per-nine ratio.
The feather in Brian Sabean’s cap for offseason pick-ups is undoubtedly the Melky Caberera for Jonathan Sanchez swap. The Angel Pagan acquisition has bordered on decent, too. But, the George Konotos for Chris Stewart* trade is looking like a very nice, underrated move. Kontos, being 27-years-old, doesn’t have a lot of upside as a bullpen pitcher, but he’s looking like a pitcher that will be able to work in the back-end of the Giants’ bullpen on the cheap. Kontos isn’t arbitration eligible until 2015 and he won’t be a free agent until 2018; so, the Giants have plenty of team control over him.
*At the time of this post, Stewart is batting .245/.269/.286, though with amazing defense no doubt.
There are a lot of things that Brian Sabean does (and will do) that will drive me nuts, his bullpen construction –paying exorbitant LOOGY fees notwithstanding – has never been one of them. Kontos is looking like a fine example of why you can build a competitive bullpen on the cheap. And for that, we salute you, Mr. Kontos.