Danys Baez is, probably, better than his 4.35 ERA this season. He’s not as good as his 2.86 ERA of last year, though. He’s probably something in-between — like his career 3.76 career ERA. Mind you, that’s mostly in the American League, and is 15 to 20 percent better than the league average.
Baez is a Cuban defector (the Braves now have at least three in their system, as Baez joins Yunel Escobar and Brayan Pena) and was signed to a big deal by the Indians in the 1999-2000 offseason. After a year in the minors, he was promoted to the big club early in 2001, where he pitched very well in middle relief. The Indians put him in the rotation in 2002, where he was just about league average (4.44 ERA) but was considered a disappointment because he wasn’t an ace. There were some good signs, though, including finishing seventh in the league in K/IP.
Like Chris Reitsma downstate, Baez was shifted to the bullpen even though he wasn’t a bad starter, and he’s been there since. He saved 25 games for the Indians in 2003, but was allowed to leave as a free agent (there are some contractual problems that I don’t quite understand) and signed with the Devil Rays. In 2004, he saved 30 games with a 3.57 ERA, and I think that’s about the pitcher he really is. But he seemingly made a leap forward in 2005, saving 41 games with a 2.87 ERA. It was an illusion; his other numbers (strikeouts, walks, hits, homers) were all flat. He was just lucky.
He was traded to the Dodgers, where he’s been one of several pitchers to cycle through the closer role during Gagne’s health collapse. He hasn’t pitched well, but a lot of that is luck. Not all of it; his strikeouts are down a little. But mostly, he’s suffered from hits that just happened to fall. It happens. He’s also pitched poorly in Dodger Stadium, for whatever reason (3.28 road ERA, 5.40 home) but again I think that’s just luck. He’s a decent reliever and a worthy pickup considering that the Dodgers are paying his salary. A free agent after this season, I have heard that his contract says he can’t be offered arbitration, but I don’t know that that’s true, or if it is how that works or if the Braves would garner draft picks for him.