When Matt Lindstrom was acquired last off-season from the Houston Astros in return for lower level prospects Jonnathan Aristil and Wes Musick, it was hailed pretty universally as a good move for the Rockies. After all, neither prospect had a high probability of contributing much if at all to the MLB level, while the 31 year-old Lindstrom had already been an above replacement reliever (and a "proven closer") and was still arbitration eligible.
I'm never a fan of paying big money for the bullpen, but at least Lindstrom seemed like a solid bet to provide some value for his $2.8 million salary. Over 63 games in the 2011 season, he pretty much had the season I thought he would. Hurling high 90s heat and mixing in a good slider, Lindstrom was an above league average reliever in 2011 (as his 71 ERA- and 78 FIP- would indicate).
Over 54 innings pitched (yes, he averaged less than one inning per outing), Lindstrom had a 3.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 3.30 FIP while managing a 2.57 K/BB ratio and going 2-2 on the year. His lower HR/FB ratio (5.7%) combined with a career low BABIP (.287) and BB rate (2.33/9) were helpful, while his career low K rate (6.0/9) was harmful.
The positive factors led to a variance in how the two WAR systems measured him, as Fangraphs rated him at 0.8 fWAR while Baseball-Reference awarded him 1.4 rWAR. As I've stated before on this site, I prefer rWAR for pitchers (and not just because it makes Lindstrom look better).
Rating and the future below the fold.Rating: B
In terms of his 2011 performance, Lindstrom pitched better than the average middle reliever, so he is awarded an above average rating.
2012: Lindstrom is under contract for $3.6 million in 2012 and has a $4 million team option in 2013 that is easy to see getting exercised. Relievers are the most volatile year-to-year commodities in MLB, but Lindstrom has pretty reliably hovered around 1 rWAR for his career, so that's what I'd expect from the fireballer next season in a set-up role/3rd string closer. I find it very interesting that his top comparable player according to Baseball-Reference is Manny Corpas, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence for the future.