Vic Black throws gas. In his major league debut last season, Black averaged 95.5 mph with his fastball. It couldn’t really be any other way though, could it? A guy with that name couldn’t be a soft-tossing lefty. No, that gig is reserved for someone like Jamie Moyer, not someone whose name is packed with Cs, a V and a K.
Black is part of a bullpen that should feature serious heat. Gone are the days of a soft-tossing pen with the likes of Elmer Dessens, Tobi Stoner, Sean Green and Pat Misch. Now it’s seemingly one fireballer after another and if the Mets open with Jenrry Mejia in the pen – say it isn’t so – that will be another guy who can regularly hit the mid-90s.
Of course, there’s more to being a successful reliever than just throwing the ball hard. Otherwise new pal Kyle Farnsworth would have been a star much sooner in his career. Black pitched well with the Mets late in 2013 but can he be something more than just a hard thrower?
Here’s what we think he’ll do in 2014:
Our numbers are all over the map for Black. Sean Flattery and Julian McCarthy think he’ll have an ERA under 3.00 while Chris Walendin and I join resident grump Dan Kolton in predicting an ERA over 4.00 for the flamethrower. Four writers believe he’ll crack double-digits in Saves this year, while four think he’ll wind up with two or fewer.
Here’s how the group as a whole thinks Black will do this season:
As someone who is bearish on Black this season, I would be very happy if he put up those numbers for the Mets in 2014. The IP total may be low for someone who many hope will be on the team the entire season. But those would be solid numbers for a setup man. For a comparison, LaTroy Hawkins had a 2.97 ERA last year and his K/9 rate was lower.
Let’s see how our numbers compare with the other projection systems available on FanGraphs:
Our numbers are right in line with those of Steamer and ZiPS. Oliver thinks his ERA will be around 40 points higher. It’s noteworthy that our projection is not optimistic compared to the computer models. Our good thoughts on Black are not based on wishful thinking and it looks like he could be a reliable late-inning guy for the club in 2014.
Check back Thursday for our next entry in the projection series.