Sort of a cross between Jeff Reardon, ca. 1992, and Danny Kolb, ca. whenever. He’s a great big fat guy who used to be a top closer. Wickman was one of the many, many young players whose career was almost derailed by the Yankees’ free agent gluttony in the early nineties. He managed to stay in the majors and eventually was dealt to the Brewers.
After a year in middle relief, he became their closer in 1998. He was traded to the Indians in 2000 and has been there since. Last season, he made the all-star team for the second time and led the league in saves. However, his strikeout rate went from one per inning to about 2/3 per inning, and this year it’s dropped to 17 in 28 IP. It’s very worrisome. His 4.18 ERA is inflated by one really bad outing, and he is 15 of 18 in save opportunities.
Wickman has 229 career saves. I don’t really believe in the closer mystique. I figure any good reliever (except LaTroy Hawkins) can close games. Wickman’s capable. But I am nervous about that strikeout rate.