The Tubby Messiah, or just a solid reliever who did the job after several non-solid relievers had failed? More the latter. Wickman’s a good pitcher, but he’s not 18 of 19 in save opportunities with a 1.04 ERA good, which is what he did last season. Interestingly, though, this is Wickman’s peak, in his mid to late thirties. In 2005 he led the AL in saves with 45 and sported a 2.47 ERA, the second-best of his career. Last year, he had the third-best of his career (though he had a number of unearned runs) and had a better than 3-1 K/BB ratio. I see no reason, barring the Curse of Gene Garber, that Wickman can’t continue to be an effective ninth-inning reliever, coming in after the fireballers in the seventh and eighth.
Wick has metamorphosed into a control and ground ball pitcher late in life, though he was never a typical fireballing closer and usually pretty good at preventing homers. His biggest strength last season was keeping the ball in the park, allowing just two home runs, but one year he pitched a full season and allowed just one. There are problems with being a ground ball pitcher, which I believe everyone is familar with at this point, but it’s nice in a closer. He comes in with a lead, you need three “events” to get a run off of him, because you aren’t going to get many extra-base hits. I’d still bring in someone for defense in place of Johnson and Renteria in the ninth.