Jeremy Sowers passed through waivers untouched. This is unsurprising. In 400 (exactly 400) Major League innings as a starter, Sowers has an xFIP over 5 and a contact rate near 88%. His high-80s velocity is unimpressive, even for a lefty, and only slightly does he initiate groundballs more than fly balls. Truthfully, Sowers’ current state is rather uninteresting. He’s going to Triple-A for a reason, and that reason is because his left arm seethes with mediocrity.
Take a moment to remember back to the good days. Do you remember, for instance, that Sowers’ first season featured 88 innings with an ERA of 3.57? Sure, his xFIP was 4.49, and his ERA was fueled by a low BABIP, but hey, ERA! More than half of Sowers’ starts came in August and September. He fed the hype machine by posting a 3.21 ERA during that stretch. Outside of that late season push, Sowers has a career 5.44 ERA, and his peripherals support it.
One of the reasons for Sowers struggles appears to be his heavy reliance on his fastball. He threw it more than half the time, yet batters swung and missed about 5% of the time. In fact, the only pitch that Sowers threw with any regularity that induced a decent number of whiffs was his slider, at 8.4% empty swings. For comparison’s sake, Nick Blackburn only gets 3.2% whiffs on his fastball, but 10% on his slider, and he’s a groundball heavy pitcher. Something Sowers isn’t.
The whole mess is particularly a headache for the Indians because Sowers was the sixth overall selection in the 2004 draft. Taken around such breadwinners as Mark Rogers, Wade Townsend, and Chris Nelson. Even if one ignores the signability issues associated with Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew, there were some quality players taken a few picks later, though, that would definitely help the Indians in the present day. Of course, it’s easy to say such in retrospect, since even up until the 2006 season, Sowers was ranked as one of the top 100 prospects by Baseball America.
This whole thing reads sort of like a career obituary, which is a little unfair to Sowers. He’s going to Triple-A and being removed from the 40-man roster, not being sold to Japan (although, look at what that’s done for Colby Lewis) or traded for a stick of gum. Maybe he finds a new pitch in Triple-A and rejoins the fray later this year. Or maybe he doesn’t.
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