In my last column I broke down my greatest “hits” of starting pitchers, those that I identified and suggested you add to your stable of hurlers for the 2011 season who succeeded. Today I’ll ding myself by pointing out the hurlers that failed to deliver based on my personal expectations.
For the “hits” see PART I.
NOTE: Please remember that while some of these “calls” seem obvious, they really weren’t back in March of 2011.
Josh Johnson (#8): Shoulder woes limited Johnson to just nine starts and 60.1 innings in 2011. He was spectacular when on the hill with a 1.64 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, not to mention 56 Ks in 60.1 innings, but his future is cloudy as he simply cannot be counted on to take the hill every five games.
Roy Oswalt (#13): Back woes limited him to his worst season, possibly ever. He won only nine games against 10 loses, lasted just 139 innings (his lowest total since 2003), and saw his K/9 dip to 6.02 (the worst mark of his career). He wasn’t horrible with a 3.69 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, but he was drafted to be a strong #2 hurler, not a depth play.
Chad Billingsley (#18): It’s time to give up on him becoming an elite pitcher, but he should still be better than he was this season. Chad produced a five year low with 11 victories, a career worst 4.21 ERA, a 5-year worst in K/9 (7.28) and a 5-year high in BB/9 (4.02). Simply put, he wasn’t very good, but he’s still only 27 years old and did toss 188 innings, his fourth straight year hitting that mark.
Francisco Liriano (#23): He will never be the pitcher he was before he blew his arm out, so put that thought out of your head as he’s lost three mph off his fastball since his heyday. As a result, his K/9 fell a batter and a half from his career rate, down to 7.50 per nine, and he was simply dreadful at throwing strikes walking 5.02 batters per nine innings. That’s just shameful.
Ryan Dempster (#25): The good – he threw more than 200 innings with at least 170 K’s for a fourth straight season. The bad – his ERA was awful at 4.80 and his WHIP wasn’t much better at 1.45. A lot of that has to do with his horrible start to the year, though his 3.70 xFIP was actually right in line with his previous three seasons (3.69, 3.76 and 3.74). He wasn’t as bad as he appeared to be.
Ricky Nolasco (#29): I give up. The guy has tantalizing skills including 4-straight years with a K/BB ratio of at least 3.36, and his xFIP keeps saying that his ERA should be well below where it always is (5.06, 4.51 and 4.67 the last three years). I’m still gonna draft him late in 2012, but only at a point where I know he’ll give me value versus at a level that I hope he will be able to live up to.
Brett Anderson (#30): Couldn’t help this one as there was no way to predict that he would need Tommy John surgery in July. He ended the year 3-6 with a 4.00 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over 13 starts.
Jonathan Sanchez (#31): He still owns hellacious stuff, see his 9.06 K/9 mark, but he rarely seems to know where it is going (see his ghastly 5.86 BB/9 mark). It’s as simple as this; until he starts throwing strikes he’s simply not someone that you can trust, at all.
John Lackey (#42): Seems like everything that could go wrong with the Boston righty did in 2011. He won 12 games, his 9th straight season of double-digits, but he threw a nine year low of 160 innings. The Sox may not have been complaining though given his 6.41 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. Amazingly, his K/9 has gone down each of the last six years while his BB/9 has gone up each of the last four.
Ian Kennedy (#55): No one predicted this effort. I’ll tip my hat to the guy as he went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 198 Ks. I don’t think he has a chance in hell of repeating that effort, but he was dynamite in 2011.
Jake Peavy (#56): I thought putting him in the second half of the top-100 was being fair. Turns out, it wasn’t. Peavy only lasted 111.2 innings, posted an abysmal 4.92 ERA, and he has serious questions about whether or not he will ever be able to even take the ball 30 times a year again.
Michael Pineda (#95): Here is my quote, and my reasoning as to why he was so low in my original rankings. “I’d be surprised if he was up before June, but he will be a strikeout force when the Mariners finally turn to him.” I totally missed the time line which is why my ranking of him was so off.
By Ray Flowers