Monday, September 1, 2008

The Prodigal Son

Aaron Heilman used to be a solid reliever. Remember the glory days of 2006? Heilman in the 8th, Wagner in the 9th. They appeared to be a marriage made in Queens.
Then something happened. Some call it Yadier Molina, others call it lack of self-confidence, but Aaron Heilman changed. Before our very eyes, he went from reliable reliever to the guy who always seemed to give up the big home run.

In 2008, it's gotten worse. Last year Heilman wasn't half as bad as Guillermo Mota, but this year he may very well be the premiere goat of the bullpen. Okay, maybe behind Blowenweiss. In any case Aaron Heilman has become the prodigal son who has lost his way. However, in Aaron's case he might not come back to glory.

One hope that remains is Billy Wagner's return. Now Wagner is not the savior of the bullpen although upon his return he will become the most reliable arm by default. The interesting thing to see will be how his return effects Aaron Heilman. Heilman seems like a guy who needs to know his role. He flourished as the 8th inning guy, but seems to cower as a closer.

In fact the most telling stat for Aaron Heilman is that his ERA was 8.22 in his first seven outings after Wagner's departure. If Wagner can come back I think we'll see a return to Aaron Heilman's former days as the 8th inning guy. I'm not saying that he'll never blow another game, but I think Heilman needs Wagner as the closer to ease his weary mind.

Here's to hoping that's the case.

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