2008 Braves Bullpen: Manny Acosta
RHP Manny Acosta- I first saw Manny Acosta pitch when I went down to Richmond for a game. I didn't understand a word he said when I talked to him after the game, but I was quite impressed with his performance on the mound. Acosta, who was converted to a reliever a couple years ago, has enjoyed some success in the minors out of the pen, but nothing really compared to his dominance for Richmond this year. As Richmond's closer this season, Acosta went 9-3 with a 2.26 ERA in 59.2 innings. Despite a mediocre WHIP (due to his poor command), his dominating stuff and ground ball tendencies brought him success. He got a late season call to Atlanta and after leaving a poor impression during spring training, was being used in big spots by the end of the season.
In 23.2 innings for Atlanta, Acosta went 1-1 with a 2.28 ERA, allowing 13 hits and 14 walks while striking out 22 and inducing 2.31 ground ball outs for every fly ball out. Acosta has a long delivery which doesn't do any good for holding baserunners on, but he showed a mid-90's fastball with some late movement and a devastating breaking ball that he can either move down and away from right-handers or back up and move down and in. That ability allows him to throw his slider with similar movement to the gyroball (baseball's equivalent to big foot). With quite a bit of confidence, I'd say that Acosta will be included in the opening day bullpen. Over time, it was easy to see that Bobby had developed a confidence in him. By the end of the season, the last three innings if the team was winning was almost always some combination of Acosta, Moylan, and then Soriano. His BABIP is below .200 so expect to see some regression. If his command holds up though, I could see an ERA in the low-to-mid 3's next year. Not bad for a failed starter that the Yankees gave up on; they could probably use him right now.