There’s no doubt about the fact that CC Sabathia is the prize of the free agent pitching crop this winter. With his dominance since moving to the Brewers, and that Cy Young award he picked up last year, Sabathia is at the top of nearly every teams list, with the question simply being who will pony up the most to secure his services.
The 29 teams who don’t sign Sabathia, however, will have to decide who the next best guy is. Right now, the general consensus seems to be his Milwaukee teammate Ben Sheets. The talent for Sheets has never been in question, and with his 2008 season being his healthiest in four years, he looks poised to cash in as Plan B for the teams who can’t get Sabathia. However, I’d like to suggest that perhaps there’s a better second option for the teams who don’t go after CC, and that man is Derek Lowe.
After a complete game gem last night that the Dodgers still managed to lose, Lowe’s brilliance this year continued to go under the radar. It’s time to shine the light on him and make sure people realize just how good he’s been this year.
At 35 years old, Lowe isn’t aging – he might be getting better. His 1.96 BB/9 is the best of his career. His 6.50 K/9 sustains the gains he made in missing bats last year, the two highest strikeout rates he’s posted as a full time starting pitcher. His improving dominance of the strike zone hasn’t shown up in his home run rate, either – his 0.7 HR/9 is right in line with his career averages.
A 3.00 K/BB rate and a 60% GB% are a powerful combination, and it shouldn’t be surprising that Lowe’s posting the best FIP of his career as a starting pitcher. His WPA/LI is higher than that of Sheets’, and he doesn’t come up with any of the same injury concerns. Yes, he’s 35, but if you can find any signs of decline, you’ve got better eyes than I do.
Derek Lowe is a legitimate frontline starting pitcher, and for a team looking for an impact arm this winter, they shouldn’t overlook the groundball machine hanging out in LA. He’s going to get a big paycheck, but there’s also a good chance that it won’t be as big as it should be.
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