When the Chicago Cubs were searching for bullpen depth and the Washington Nationals wanted to get rid of a supposed problem, Brandon Kintzler appeared. The rest is, well, a whole lot of bad.
Position: Relief Pitcher
2018 Stats: An ERA of 4.60, with a WHIP of 1.47, a FIP of 4.06, a DRA- of 142.3, a DRA of 6.37, and a WARP of -1.0.
Year in Review: At some point in the past few years people decided that Kintzler was a good reliever. I’ve mined the stats, and, frankly, that was never the case. You have to go all the way back to 2013 to find a season where Kintzler posted a positive WARP season. As we all are aware WARP doesn’t tell the whole story about a player, but consistently posting a negative WARP isn’t good, no matter how it’s spun. Pair that with high DRA’s, well above average DRA-‘s, high H/9 and BB/9, and the story of a pitcher who pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes becomes crystal clear.
2018 was the same for Kintzler as every year since 2013. He flashed decent stuff that made a lot of people ignore his gaudy numbers. Whether it was with the Nationals or the Cubs, Kintzler was bad in 2018. During his time with the Cubs, he was given a number of chances to help a depleted bullpen. Instead, he became a pitcher that induced groans whenever he entered the game. Most of his appearances followed the same pattern; a walk then a big hit. It’s hard to get behind a pitcher when you know that chances are the outcome will be bad.
There wasn’t any bright side to Kintzler’s 2018. His poor on-field performance was aided by off-field allegations of improper conduct by the Nationals. To his credit, his teammates in Washington came to his defense and denied the story being put forth by the Nationals front office. Still, it all added up to a 2018 campaign that Kintzler is happy to leave behind.
Looking Ahead: I’m not sure where the issues reside with Kintzler. His stuff has never been great, but he’s now coupled that with increasing command issues and a lack of confidence on the mound. Heading into a season where he’ll be 34 years old the above doesn’t manage to instill a lot of confidence in Kintzler. That explains why there was an even louder groan from Cubs fans when Kintzler exercised the player option on his contract.
I don’t expect Kintzler to be on the team much longer. There’s no real reason for the Cubs to keep him around. He’s been a below average reliever for too long for the Cubs to expect that he can suddenly turn things around. The Cubs can afford to eat his contract and not even feel a slight increase in their collective waistband. In 2019 the right move when it comes to Brandon Kintzler is to designate him for assignment and move on. Hopefully, the front office does just that well before the season starts. If they don’t then the bullpen will have a wasted roster spot and that’s not something that should be accepted by fans or the other players.
Lead photo courtesy @Cubs on Twitter