Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Player Projection 2014: Jordan Walden


Oct 3, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Jordan Walden (52) throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning of game one of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

 

After trading for Jordan Walden last year, it’s easy to say the Braves got the better end of the deal when all they gave up (in a trade to the LA Angels) was declining Tommy Hanson. It was a great move by the front office, seeing how Hanson has fallen off the radar.

Last year, Walden’s overpowering arm led to a good strikeout rate while posting a solid walk rate. Personally, I love him in the set up role behind Craig Kimbrel. His 6’5″ stature and unusual pitching motion should give a different and more intimidating look to an already great Braves’ bullpen.

The Braves could have used Walden in the playoffs, but there is a huge upside if he can stay healthy in 2014. Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty may end up in the set up role, but I feel Walden is perfect for the role. As a true strikeout pitcher, Walden can squander any rally in the 8th by just blowing away hitters and could even close out games if Kimbrel needs rest or has an injury. This flexibility is what makes the Braves bullpen so great and what will make Jordan Walden better.

Let’s take a look at Walden’s pure numbers. Near the all star break last year, Walden had a .7 WAR which was second in the league to Craig Kimbrel. He ended up with a .8 WAR, but the number shows the potential he holds. Earlier in Walden’s career, he depended too much on his fastball. This past year, he used an effective change up, which led to his great numbers. In Walden’s best season, 2011, he posted an ERA under three and a WAR of 1.5. I believe he can return to this form or be even better in 2014.

One positive number was Walden’s pitching in high leverage situations. In 10.2 innings, he posted an average against of .162. I expect Walden to be in more high leverage situations this upcoming year. A negative number Walden had was batters OBP with runners in scoring position. Higher than any other year, it came out to .385.

There is a knock on Walden though. His velocity has decreased in the past three years. His upper ninety’s fastball can still be extremely effective if he goes down to 95. He also has an above league average slider and change up.

In 2014, I believe Walden will pitch around 60 innings as a set up man.  He could easily have an ERA in the low threes or even below three also. Here are some more projections for Jordan Walden:

  • K/9 – 10-10.3
  • WHIP – 1.00-1.10
  • HR – 5
  • Saves – 3 (Depending on health of Kimbrel)
  • Holds – 30-35

I am a huge Jordan Walden fan, and expect him to be one of the biggest parts of the Braves bullpen in 2014. Despite the options of set up man, Walden has to be the first choice to take the role. If healthy, he will rack up holds and is flexible enough to put him in the closer role. Expect lots of strikeouts, and fly balls. If Walden can keep the ball in the ballpark, he can become an elite set up man.

 

Next Braves Game View full schedule »
Friday, Aug 2222 Aug7:10at Cincinnati RedsBuy Tickets

Tags: Atlanta Braves Bullpen Walden

  • Michael Borgia

    A nice write up on Walden… I agree that he is a great set up option for Kimbrel , and has the ability to spell Craig every once in a while in the closing out games. If he remains healthy, he will be a great cog in the Braves pen!

  • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

    Harrison, I’ve got your piece linked in our Hot Stove/Player Previews page. Thanks bro.

  • fireboss

    I hope you’re right but I don’t trust Walden to close. He lost that job with the Angels because he wasn’t dependable. They decided they’d rather do without than use him then traded him for a pitcher who was obviously headed the wrong way. His motion puts unnecessary stress on his back and arm and that will cause more trouble as he ages. I’d trade him in a New York minute and use Carpenter instead. But, as I said I hope you’re right

    • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

      I agree Fred. I like Walden, and always have, from a “potential” standpoint, but he is much too inconsistent to be relied upon in important situations. As you point out, his motion is erratic at best, and dangerous at worst. Nonetheless, the Braves’ WILL use him, and hopefully they can bring his issues under control and turn him into a good late reliever. If anyone can…

      • Sealift67

        True, he should not be relied upon as closer with rare exception.
        Beyond that his health is an issue and he needs to be
        used wisely. Odd mechanics for sure, yet set up guys are 2 to 3 year deals.
        I would be hesitant to give him up in a trade. Carpenter is fine as a role
        reliever yet at times, including 1 important post season time he showed his
        inexperience. I agree with Fred but I’m not concerned about how he ages,
        I like the depth and cojones he brings.

    • Joseph Fain

      I guess the irony is that we traded a guy with a bad motion who was experiencing health issues because of it for another one.

      Walden seems to be pretty effective when healthy, but I agree that it is doubtful that he can stay health for an entire season and his motion is not very repeatable which most pitchers / coaches preach as the key to consistency.