June 10, 2011 at 2:13 pm by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
I can write this article every week and it will be more impressive each time it is constructed. The domination of Jonny Venters is just getting absurd. He allowed a run on April 3, and since then he has allowed only one more run. I am not huge on ERA as it is not a very telling metric in terms of future performance, but a 0.26 ERA 36.2 innings is just ridiculous. I don’t like arbitrary endpoints either, but this is just too cool to look past.
As Jack More of Fangraphs mentioned, he is keeping the ball on the ground at an absolutely insane rate. This, along with his still great strikeout rate (9.31 down from 10.08 last season) and his suddenly impressive control (2.56 BB/9 compared to 4.23 in 2010), makes for a dominant pitcher, which is exactly what he is.
Mariano River said this about Venters, “We’ll check back in four or five years and see where he is.” This is a good point. Relievers are volitile. Expecting Venters to turn into Rivera is not fair to either, but Venters is off to a pretty good start to say the least.
MLB Daily Dish says, “When Jonny Venters pitches on zero days rest, opposing hitters are 1-40 with 16 Ks. Read that again: ONE FOR FORTY.” So if Venters comes in with a day off, you are better off standing up there and looking for girls in the stands than actually attempting to swing.
In terms of Fangraphs WAR, Venters has been equally valuable in just 38.2 innings as Chris Carpenter in 84.2 innings (3.44 FIP), Yovani Gallardo in 86.1 innings (3.58 FIP), and Derek Lowe in 79.2 innings (3.48 FIP).
In terms of Baseball-Reference WAR, Venters ranks sixth in the entire National League at 2.5 wins. That’s the same number as Dan Haren, owner of a 2.41 ERA in 93.1 innings. I get more impressed with every word I write.
He is a legitimate Cy Young candidate at this point in time. He will probably give up more hits, walk more batters, and subsequently allow more runs going forward, but he has been more automatic than any National League reliever I can remember in a very long time. Even with all of those expected increases, he will still be one of the league’s top pitchers. Not just relievers, pitchers.
I gave up on Venters when he failed as a starter. Thankfully, he did not give up on himself. The turn around he has made in his career is that of Hollywood movie script. Actually, it probably does not sound real enough for someone in Hollywood to develop it, that’s how crazy the past few years have been for Jonny.
Even though Mariano is right in his assessment of most relievers, barring injury I see no reason to expect Venters to fade. If he did, I would not be completely surprised, but I certainly do not expect it. Venters’ sinker may never and probably will never match what Rivera’s cutter has done over Mo’s career, but right now there is no better pitch in baseball and not many better pitchers altogether.