Bats: RightThrows: RightHeight: 6-3Weight: 200Age: 29
2010 Salary: $4.5 million
2010 stats: Appeared in 53 games, going 0-6 with 31 saves and a 3.44 ERA.
On a team that lost 101 games, Aardsma’s 31 saves kept him in the American League’s Top 10 - and he saved more than half Seattle’s victories. In 36 save situations, his ERA was 2.97, and opponent’s batted .178. “Closing takes a different mentality than any other role on a staff, and Aardsma seems to have that,” one AL East scout said. “When he comes in, he thinks the game is over - and that’s an attitude you can’t teach.”
Aardsma didn’t pitch after Sept. 19 because of an oblique strain, but that may have been a missed diagnosis - he eventually needed off-season hip surgery. When he struggled last year, command was almost always the issue, and he walked 25 batters in his 49 innings. “He relied too much on his fastball at times,” an AL West scout said. “There were times he came in, fell behind and tried to overthrow. He needs a second pitch he can throw for strikes, and more important, will throw.”
Summing up Moore’s 2010
In three months - May, June and July - Aardsma allowed 14 of the 19 earned runs he gave up all season. When he struggled, he blew games. When he was ‘on,’ he was all but unbeatable, and allowed just two runs over his last 17 appearances. In just his second year closing, Aardsma wasn’t the dominant force he was in ‘09 but still saved 31 games for a bad team.
Looking to 2011
Aardsma will open spring training unable to run throw from a mound, limited by December hip surgery, and will almost certainly miss the start of the season. Over the past two years, Aardsma has saved 69 games - eight fewer than New York’s Mariano Rivera. Despite that, there are many who believe he’s expendable, that Brandon League is the future in the ninth inning. Once fully healthy, Aardsma needs to prove he can close consistently - not an easy task on a team that may not have ninth inning leads often.