Paulino Experiences Whiplash

Felipe Paulino’s stuff is dreamy.

His fastball has sink and sits in the 94-96 range; occasionally touching the upper 90s and has been clocked in triple digits during his minor league time. Paulino possesses the innate ability to spin the ball; a gift showcased in the form a hammer curve that alongside his heat gained him prospect status and showcased at the major league level in his slider.

He doesn’t always have full command over his pitches and he’s yet to develop a worthwhile third pitch, but the guy has the raw talent. In a little under 100 innings Paulino is walking 6% of the batters he faces while striking out nearly 21%. His line drive percentage is sub-20% and he generates 42% groundballs, yet he has a 5.8 tRA and 5.23 FIP. What gives?

18.2% of Paulino’s fly balls are leaving the playing field. Amongst pitchers with at least 90 innings this season that marks as the third highest, behind only Josh Geer and Randy Johnson. Paulino’s xFIP is 4.12; a respectable mark for a soon-to-be 26-year-old in his first semi-full major league season. As we know starting pitchers regress to a home run rate around 11%, and there is no indication to believe Paulino will be a consistent outlier. He’s given up 20 home runs in 92 innings this year and 28 in 386 minor league innings. Factor in Paulino’s sub-75% contact rate and it’s clear something in his arsenal generates whiffs.

Grumbling about whether Paulino is a future reliever will likely magnify with his large ERA, but I’m unconvinced that a transition should be made prior to next season. Allow Paulino a full season of pitching before writing him off as extremely hittable and incapable of starting in the majors. I mean heck, this same organization gave Brandon Backe 70 starts over the last four years to prove he didn’t belong in the league, and he didn’t have the upside of Paulino.

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7 Responses to “Paulino Experiences Whiplash”

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  1. Christian Seehausen says:

    Agreed. Paulino’s minor league career was slowed down by injury, so don’t be too deceived by him being 26–he still needs more experience under his belt to find his command and consistency. Once he does, he could be deadly. The same should be said of Bud Norris, who can also hit the upper 90s with his four-seamer, but seems to have progressed a little quicker with his command.

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  2. R9b says:

    Paulino’s walk rate isn’t too terrible. Would you say that his control is passable, but his command is what needs work?

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    • Christian Seehausen says:

      From watching him, I’d say it’s definitely his command more than his control. He leaves a lot of fastballs (and occasionally hanging sliders/breaking balls that don’t break) up in the zone. If he kept the ball down better he would improve, I suspect.

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      • lincolndude says:

        What’s the difference between command and control, anyway? Doesn’t it all fall under the ability to hit the target that the catcher puts up?

        I think Spock said it better: “I neither enjoy the idea of command nor am I frightened of it. It simply exists.”

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      • CJ in Austin,TX says:

        Control–ability to throw strikes or avoid BBs.
        Command–ability to hit spots or specific locations.

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  3. CJ says:

    Paulino was out all of 2008 with an injury. Taking that into account, Paulino’s inconsistency this year is not unusual. Paulino had some sparkling games when glimpses of his potential became apparent. For example, he started ain interleague game against Detroit and pitched 7 innings with 0 ER, 9 Ks, 0 BBs, and a game score of 76. Paulino’s primary problems this season have come against LHBs, with a 1.120 OPS against by LHBs and .740 by RHBs. Paulino probably needs to develop a pitch which is more effective versus lefthanders. This could either come in the form of better consistency from an existing off speed pitch or picking up a new pitch.

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  4. Flash says:

    Any thoughts on 22 yr old flame thrower Henry Rodriguez who’s been throwing 99-100 mph.Unfortunately, he needs to improve his control, but the pure stuff is there.

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