It’s been an interesting saga for Arodys Vizcaino. He took over the role of closer late in the 2017 season and was primed to be the main man in that department again for 2018. By the time the Braves clinched the division in late-September, Vizcaino was the man who was on the mound when the Braves got the final out.
However, this wasn’t always the case. Vizcaino dealt with shoulder issues for most of the season and by the time mid-June rolled around, it proved to be too much to play through and he ended up having to do a stint on the 60-day DL. The good news was that Vizcaino was able to return for the latter stage of the season and the playoffs as well, but it still has to be concerning that he had another season with injury issues.
Bottom line, what did he do in 2018? When he was on the mound, he was effective enough. He finished the season with a 2.11 ERA and a 3.76 FIP and ended up collecting 16 saves over 38.1 innings thrown over the season. One of the most interesting things about this season for Viz was the fact that he finished it with a LOB percentage of 91.8 percent. If he had been healthy enough to get a full season under his belt, then that would have made him one of the leaders in all of baseball in that department if he had kept it up.
In fact, “if he had been healthy enough” is probably going to be the big theme for Vizcaino, as his numbers and peripherals suggest that he would have indeed been one of the better relievers on the team on-paper had he been healthy. Instead, we only got a relative snippet of what 2018 had in store for Vizcaino. There weren’t too many moments of dominance for Vizcaino over this past season, but there was plenty of evidence that he is still a very capable reliever.
Fortunately, he was able to get healthy in time for the postseason. Just like he was on the mound when the Braves clinched the division, he was on the mound at the end of that exciting Game 3 in the NLCS. That appearance was basically the 2018 Vizcaino Experience in a nutshell. The inning wasn’t clean and there was a bit of drama, but he got the job done and everybody went home happy afterwards.
Will Vizcaino be on the roster next year? When he was healthy, he was one of the relievers who didn’t walk batters at an alarmingly high rate. He finished the year with a 3.52 BB/9 and a 9.5 percent walk rate. A full season of that would have been refreshing and his presence was definitely missed at times when the bullpen would have its moments of walking the opposition.
I’m saying that to say that he will likely be a member of the Braves bullpen next season.
What is he going to do next year? With the emergence of A.J. Minter as a reliable high-leverage arm, we’ll probably see Arodys Vizcaino take a step back in the bullpen next season. If Minter continues on his current path of improvement then I can see him becoming the closer at some point in 2019 and Vizcaino will be relegated to set-up duty or something like that. He’ll probably still get plenty of appearances around the eighth inning and he’ll likely get some save opportunities sprinkled in as well. But we probably won’t see him as the main closer for the entirety of 2019.
Highlight of 2018: Here’s his appearance from Game 3 of the NLDS. He sure made things interesting, didn’t he?! He gave up a single and a walk to start things off and even threw in a wild pitch to really turn up the drama. However, Vizcaino eventually struck out Max Muncy, Manny Machado, and Brian Dozier to lock down the win the for the Braves. Again, Vizcaino definitely took the scenic route but he got the job done in a high-pressure situation.
Lowlight of 2018: And now we see what happens when taking the scenic route gets you lost and wandering in the woods with little idea of where to go. The Braves were just three outs away from what would have been a dramatic victory over the Cubs following an eighth-inning dinger from Ronald Acuña Jr. However, Vizcaino gave up two doubles and a single and what should have been an exciting victory eventually turned into a disappointing defeat.