Amid all the easy Astro jokes going on right now (another trade with Philly? There's actually a player left in Houston to be traded? etc., etc.), Jeff Sullivan over at FanGraphs writes an article in praise of one Wilton Lopez.
At least, he does after inventing the game Spot the Half-Decent Astro. That hurts, Jeff. That just hurts.
Anyways, what Sullivan basically points out is what we've known about Lopez. He's a closer who relies on the ground ball quite a bit without a ton of strikeouts. It's not unusual, Jim Johnson did the same thing for a playoff-bound Orioles team this year. It's just not the typical profile of a closer.
In terms of combined walk and groundball rates, he’s been the most extreme reliever in baseball, just ahead of Jim Johnson, who’s blossomed with the Orioles. Lopez has thrown better than two-thirds of his pitches for strikes over this span, and he’s thrown an awful lot of two-seam fastballs. He throws four pitches in all, and three of them go for a ton of strikes, and three of them generate grounders. Like Johnson, Lopez hasn’t been a strikeout machine. Like Johnson, Lopez hasn’t had to be.
You need to go to the site to check out the leaderboard and see what kind of company Lopez is keeping (and what Sullivan's methodology was in creating the list. But, it does show how much value Lopez may have and that his return may be higher than typically anticipated for a closer on a terrible team.