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Archive for April, 2009

Back around Halloween, I thought of putting up a list of relief pitchers whom I thought had a pretty good chance of turning into “pumpkins” in 2009–a more extreme version of regression to the mean; these were guys who had Cinderella seasons in 2008 but didn’t have much of a previous MLB track record to tell if their ’08 performances were fluky or not.

The guys I had tagged for pumpkins based on 2007 were Peter Moylan and Hideki Okajima and my suspicions about the latter were quite founded. My suspicions about the former were also on the mark, as he was either going to fall to earth or get hurt due to overuse. Moylan’s not having a very good 2009, either, but that’s likely due to coming back too soon after injury.

Here’s my list of pumpkins for 2009:
Grant Balfour, Tampa Bay Rays;
Craig Breslow, Minnesota Twins;
Hong-Chih Kuo, Los Angeles Dodgers.

(I dismissed Cliff Lee and Ryan Dempster from the Pumpkin Report because they are essentially veteran players, and I also excluded Seth McClung because his performance was less Cinderella and more like, I don’t know, Hime-chan no Ribon–it only lasted for an hour and it wasn’t spectacular.)

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I’m not worried. The rankings of 1-5 starters, in the first place, are more for us to determine the skill of pitchers rather than where their managers actually have them slotted in the rotation. Just because he’s starting Opening Day doesn’t make him the best starter; it just makes him the guy Ken Macha thought was ready now.

I think that most of the Suppan hate on the Brewers corners of the internets should be more accurately aimed at Doug Melvin (for signing a league-average starter to an elite contract; admittedly it was a lousy year for FA pitchers) and Ned Yost (for being completely incapable of determining when to pull a pitcher.) Suppan is what it says on his statistical tin. The other part of the hate is probably due to his completely blowing Game 4 of the 2008 NLDS, but who else could the Brewers have put in to pitch? Mark DiFelice wasn’t on the postseason roster and Seth McClung had to mop up CC Sabathia’s massive mess in Game 2. None of the starters except David Bush could have been said to be “on” during the NLDS; blame Sabathia for being Captain Choke and Ben Sheets for mistiming an injury. (Not that Sheets could have helped it, but he could have said something before Yost got fired. Not that Lindsay Gulin would have been much of an upgrade, but his presence could have prevented McClung and Sabathia from pulling the 3 days’ rest game for half the month.)

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