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Friday, May 15, 2009

Three Zeros

As of the start of play on Friday, 74 pitchers had thrown 40+ major-league innings so far this season. Of them, only three had yet to allow a home run. The first probably won't surprise you. Zack Greinke has surrendered only a dozen extra-base hits (eleven doubles and one triple) in 53 innings so far. The other two have been getting far less press.

Wandy Rodriguez - Houston Astros

Way-Rod has been a popular streaming option for a couple of seasons, mainly because of his home/road splits.

H: 6-3, 2.94
R: 3-10, 6.37

H: 5-5, 2.99
R: 4-2, 4.34

H: 2-1, 0.67
R: 2-1, 3.24

As you can see, while Wandy continues to dominate at home, his numbers on the road have also been getting progressively better. He strikes out close to a batter an inning and has improved his ground-ball ratios in each of the last three years, no doubt assisting his limitation of the long ball. Here's the bad news. Houston has a mediocre offense (last in the NL Central in run production) and a bad bullpen (5.03 ERA) and Wandy has only pitched one shutout in his career, so he's not a safe bet to win 15 games, even if he continues to pitch excellently. Wandy is also, already, 30-years-old, so for him to improve dramatically upon his 3.54 ERA from last season would be highly unusual. On the other hand...

Ubaldo Jimenez - Colorado Rockies

With the exception of his HR Allowed, Ubaldo's stats for 2009 don't look that great. However, in his last three starts he is 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA and 5.00 K/BB rate. The latter number is important because that has always been Jimenez's Achilles heel. Since he came up during Colorado's amazing stretch drive in 2007, Jimenez is 4-10 with a 5.24 ERA in games in which he walks four or more. In his other 37 starts he is 15-10 with a 3.65 ERA. That's an especially good ERA when you consider that Ubaldo has to make half his starts at Coors Field.

More importantly, Ubaldo is still only 25, has dynamic stuff, including a fastball that touches triple digits and a classic Darryl Kile curveball. If this is evidence, as I believe it is, that Ubaldo moving towards consistent control of his arsenal, he has a much, much higher ceiling than Rodriguez, and possibly as high as Greinke.

In the end my point is this: THESE GUYS ARE STILL AVAILABLE IN MOST LEAGUES. Pick them up pronto. They have the kind of high-reward potential that is necessary to win championships.

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