Marc on Colby Lewis

I thought I was pretty smart. This past Friday, I noticed that Colby Lewis was making his triumphant return to the Majors. As many of you know, our very own Carson Cistulli has a Texas-sized Man Crush on Mr. Lewis. I suggested to Carson that we should both watch the game and post a duel article on Monday (today) commenting on Lewis’ start. I should have realized that my “bright ideas” always backfire.

Instead of getting to publicly laugh in Carson’s face, I have to eat crow: Lewis actually pitched well. Prior to his self-imposed banishment to Japan, Lewis had appeared in parts of five MLB seasons and posted a 5.79 FIP, 5.14 BB/9 and 6.34 K/9. Hardly exciting stuff.

But then something happened to Lewis in Japan… He apparently learned how to be a pitcher. This past Friday night, he held the Mariners lineup (albeit not a scary collection of hitters) to just one run in seven innings. He allowed five hits and four walks in the game, while also striking out three.

I am a little worried about Lewis going forward because he allowed a lot of fly ball outs (10) and Texas is known for being a pretty good place to hit for power. As well, his control was clearly better than his command – but both are significantly improved from what he previous MLB numbers would suggest. He’s also going to have to find a reliable third pitch (either his curve or change-up) because his fastball-slider combo is not going to be enough once a scouting report on Lewis starts to circulate.

I’m willing to admit that Lewis may not be quite as bad as I thought he was going to be this season, but I still predict a modest WAR this season in the 1.5 to 2.5 range. I think he’ll give Texas some much-needed innings, but he’s going to have some bad games when his fastball command is off and his pitches catch too much of the plate.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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