Introducing the Edinson Volquez Support Group

The first step is admitting you have a problem. I admit it: I cannot rid myself of Edinson Volquez, let alone reserve him for even a week. Ever since picking him up post-draft, but still during spring training, before his breakout 2008 campaign, I have been guilty of suffering from Volquez Fandom Syndrome. Please, someone help me.

Watching Volquez pitch is the very definition of a roller coaster ride. The viewer experiences ultimate highs followed by ultimate lows and fantasy owners have to hope the highs outweigh the lows. If there was a good and accurate quantitative way to measure a pitcher’s stuff, I have to believe Volquez’ repertoire would rank near the top. His SwStk% has been at least 10.0% the last four seasons, while his opposition Contact% has been no higher than 74.8% in that time span.

Besides simply being able to highlight these impressive numbers, I do get my nose out of a spreadsheet every once in a while. When my mom lets me out of her basement, I have had the chance to actually watch Volquez pitch. The scout in me says that the numbers are completely supported by what my eyes are seeing, as his fastball is explosive (though his run values have been negative the past three seasons) and change-up devastating. He has even increased his curve ball usage, which looks pretty good to my non-expert scouting eye.

Okay, so it is clear that whether you are looking at the numbers or watching him pitch, Volquez’ pure stuff is pretty darn good. Moving back to the stat sheet again, fantasy owners (for those who have not dropped him yet!) have one more reason to be excited: a fantastic 61.4% GB% leading into yesterday’s game. Beginning in 2008, he displayed a ground ball tilt, but during his return from TJ Surgery in 2010, that GB% increased further to over 50%. So it is intriguing to see that rate rise again and help form a truly unique skill set.

Of course, we all know what the issue is: Volquez sometimes seems to be pitching as if the plate was the size of an amoeba. It is frustrating to watch when this frequent occurrence happens, to say the least. Amazingly, coming into yesterday’s game, Volquez had thrown first pitch strikes 64.4% of the time, well above the league average of 58.9% and easily a career best. His Zone% of 46.3% is not too far below the 47.8% league average, so one wonders how he manages to walk so many batters. I would guess that on an overall basis, he does not throw the number of balls that would suggest such poor control. However, the walks are coming because Volquez loses focus or whatever and throws balls in bunches. This is just me speculating here and throwing out a possible explanation.

So this is what we know about Volquez: his stuff is top notch and he generates gobs of ground balls, but his control comes and goes. This makes it tough for us fantasy owners to decide whether to start or reserve him each week (or each start for you daily transactioners). Many fantasy owners seem to love benching a starter like Volquez until he pitches a good game. But Volquez is inconsistent and one start typically has no bearing on his next. So I would throw that strategy out, though I would argue against that strategy for every pitcher. In additon, we cannot really play matchups because he has faced the Astros, Padres and the Pirates and still posted a 6.35 ERA in those games. The good news is that fixing a pitcher’s control is much easier than improving his stuff. So that means, much to the joy of my league mates, I will likely continue to start him week in and week out, and cross my fingers that his control will improve to acceptable territory given the rest of his excellent skills. So who wants to talk me out of doing so and who will be joining me as the inaugural members of the Edinson Volquez Support Group?




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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

24 Responses to “Introducing the Edinson Volquez Support Group”

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  1. Cody says:

    No… I will never admit defeat! Viva la Volquez!

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  2. Metsknicksrutgers says:

    Yup, I feel your pain. He has been racking up my team Ks though, and the fact I got him, Brett Anderson, kuroda, dickey, late in the draft of a 14 team league, and haren in the 5th round makes me pretty happy.

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  3. Seth says:

    I am a new comer to the group. I just traded Leo Nunez for him straight up in a 12 team mixed keeper league. Cheap contract with 2 more years of control. If he can straighten things out I think the risk far exceeds the reward. I honestly have no idea how I am going to sit and start him, but it will be fun or painful as hell to watch! Plus he has sweet dreads so I am in till the end.

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  4. EnglishMetsFan says:

    Hello,

    My name is the EnglishMetsFan and I am a Volquezholic.

    I managed to bring my myself to bench Edison this past weekend, but another problem has arisen.

    He has been dropped in another league, and he sits there, just begging me to use my WW claim.

    This could send me into a state of Redsmission.

    And to think, I had just successfuly beaten my Bedardism.

    Sigh

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  5. Seth says:

    that should have been reward far exceeds the risk…see I am giddy already at the though of him being on my team.

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  6. David Lynch says:

    I too am a Volquezaholic… I have been since he was traded to the Reds in the Hamilton deal 3 or 4 years ago. That 2008 season was one of the reasons I finished in 2nd place that year and I keep chasing that dragon like Sherlock Holmes in an Opium den. I can’t STOP! I drafted him in the 23rd round last year knowing he was coming back from TJ surgery and thinking he would be a FANTASTIC keeper this season costing me only my 20th rnd pick this year. Part of me thinks we’re chasing that Oliver Perez season in 2004 when he was with the Pirates… NEVER to be replicated of course, but we ALL know at least one owner who kept chasing him and hoping for a replication. Of course, in Ollie’s case, diminishing velocity was a big part of his decline. Then there is another part of me that remembers when I drafted Brandon Marrow in the 26th round last year, dropped him in week 2 and watched another owner pick him up and enjoy the stats he put up once he gained some control… Something tells me Volquez is more in the Marrow camp than the Perez camp. Why? As Mike points out, his actual STUFF is filthy, and if he can gain some control, he would be a beast… Remember. He’s done it before, and control/location is the LAST thing to return following Tommy John surgery… “I don’t always start wild pitchers… But when I do – I prefer Edinson Volquez.” Don’t drop him!

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    • Mike Podhorzer says:

      And seriously, if he could get over whatever it is that is destroying his inability to pitch in the 1st inning, then Cy Young output, yes, Cy Young, is not completely crazy. I think his upside is that good.

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      • David Lynch says:

        He absolutely has Cy Young “stuff,” and you’re dead on right about that dreaded 1st inning. As of 4/18/11, his first inning ERA is 29.25… Every combined inning after? 1.93 ERA. Can you imagine if he could just skip the 1st Inning? The issue clearly is nerves or adrenaline or psychological. Not physical. He needs to breathe through his eye-lids like a newt or where some panties on the mound… It worked for Nuke Laloosh. Too bad his catcher isn’t Crash.

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  7. Deeeeeeez Nuts says:

    I too am lurking at the bottom of the ERA and WHIP rankings in my league thanks in large part to Volquez. I thought I was ready to drop him after opening day and saw the aforementioned soft schedule coming and kept saying, “one more start, one more start.” Yet here I sit, as much as I know I probably should, still refusing to realize my losses. He can’t possibly end up with anything close to a 6.75 and 1.59. Right? Right?

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  8. JtheExploder says:

    On days when Volquez starts I usually sit in my chair rocking back and forth muttering “get past the 1st inning…get past the 1st inning…”

    Yesterday I sat him for the first time this season. I’ll never drop him, but I’ll be flipping a coin on days he starts from now on.

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  9. Sausage says:

    I finally lost my mind and dropped him.., for Brandon McCarthy. You can see Edinson drove me to seek out guys that don’t don’t walk guys and surely I will now be left wondering… where are the Ks? He’s been so terrible I’ll probably be able to pick him up again and rekindle my Volquezitis.

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    • Mike Podhorzer says:

      At least you picked up one of the sleepers I highlighted during spring training! Though the lack of Ks is going to limit his fantasy value. Of course, the lack of any semblance of an offense backing him may also limit his win potential. He’s a much better AL-Only starter than mixed leaguer.

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  10. I am new to the Edison Volquez Support Group. He went undrafted this year in my league and I grabbed him to fill in for my 3 drafted starters who began the year on the DL (Peavy, Greinke, Cueto) and I am smack at the bottom of ERA and Whip as well because of him (and others) but I have to agree with everything written, when I watch him pitch I am amazed at his stuff and feel like I can’t drop him because if he puts it together this could be one of the great ones…

    Ahhhh tempting talent…At least I got to watch Pineda pitch for my squad yesterday too…talk about upside…

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  11. Random Guy says:

    Volquez is giving me headaches, but what else is new — on my entire 9-man staff in a 16-team mixed league, exactly ONE pitcher has outpeformed expectations (Derek Lowe). The rest have been horrible (Volquez, J.McDonald, Porcello, Meek), mildly disappointing (C.Lee, Carpenter, Hellickson) or injured (U.Jimenez). And I have no closers.

    But hey, at least my lineup, anchored by Evan Longoria and Shin-Soo Choo, is… wait, what?

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  12. TomtheBod says:

    Man, I’ve been waiting for a post on this guy. I sat there for an hour and a half last night, merely contemplating whether to drop this jerk. Just when you think he can’t get any worse… I dropped him before the start of the season in 2008, and I’ve had regrets about it ever since. So I decided to keep him, partly because of the fear that once I drop him, he’ll suddenly figure things out and someone else will snag him at the right time. I also am intrigued by his overall performance after the first inning. The guy has tremendous upside if he can come to grips with his control problems. With that said, one has to wonder though how long it will take for him to actually get the control figured out? I know TJ surgery messes with control, but Come on! The guy started resumed pitching last July, almost a full year. What the hell has that guy been doing in the offseason? What the hell is that pitching coach doing over there in Cincy?!!! I’m lead to believe Volquez is either un-coachable, stupid, lazy, or a combination of the three, and I personally would like to smack him right in the mouth.

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  13. Josh says:

    The problem is he keeps finishing so strong and going up against below-average offenses. It’s so hard to sit him. I think I’m going to let him show me something befroei start gun again but I can’t help but think I’m going to miss his 8ip 14k game.

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  14. kylereynolds86 says:

    I have started and will continue to start this guy for the rest of the season no matter the results. I think I too would qualify as a Volquezaholic…I don’t know what it is I just can’t bench the guy.

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  15. Smallball says:

    Is it alarming at all that he is no longer throwing his slider at all?

    In 2008, his last full season, he threw it 14% of the time.

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  16. SKob says:

    Hello! My name is Matt! I am still in denial… and it’s been a while!

    I first owned Volquez as a Rangers minor leaguer as part of the DVD trio of Danks, Volquez, and Diamond in my AL only 12 team league (35 player roster). Loved his potential! I lost him when he was traded to the NL for Hamilton and pitied myself as he dominated NLers early on! In my NL only league (same setup as AL), I finally got him back last year for $1 as he was injured. I kept him this year for just the $1 and despite the ERA and WHIP, he is resting comfortably on my bench… waiting… waiting… for the right moment!

    I have applied a similar strategy to 4 of my 5 fantasy teams. Nobody trusts Mr. Volquez and he fell deep into each draft I had. For the tier of pitchers remaining, I still consider myself lucky to have gotten him in each league.

    This is not Dice-K, nor is it Rick Ankiel. This is not a pitcher with control problems or guidance issues. This is a pitcher coming back from TJ surgery. He will have his ups and downs in the first half, but mark my words, fantasy championships will be won on his back! Wait to pounce if you wish, but if you don’t have this guy on your team in the second half, I will, and there will be smiling in my household as I watch his dominance over the pathetic NL central (unless he’s playing Pujols or Braun)!

    Where’s the overeaters anonymous meeting?

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  17. Morat says:

    TomtheBod and SKob: You guys confuse me, is the TJ surgery still an issue or not?

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    • SKob says:

      See tsfuns comment below. Volquez has always had his control come and go. Not uncommon with young strikeout pitchers. His progress was hampered by the surgery, but at the end of last year, he seemed to be getting it back.

      I don’t know how his offseason training and spring training regimen were setup, but you never know how a player will react with this being his first spring training since surgery.

      I would give him until the end of May to start feeling his pitches again. He will be in complete control by June!

      But remember, I am in Volquez Denial, so take my advice with caution.

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  18. tsfunsworth7 says:

    Looking at his pitch type values, the slider had been an average to above average pitch for him the last few years, but he hasn’t thrown it more than 10% of the time since 2006. Interestingly, when he only threw it 3.6% of his pitches in 2008 it still added 2.1 runs above average. Pretty impressive for such a small number of times throwing it. However, decreased slider usage can only be beneficial for his replaced ligament, since that is one of the worst pitches on your flexor tendons.

    As for support group membership, I recently joined on a buy-low trade that netted me Volquez, Garza, and Markakis for Alex Gordon, Edwin Jackson, and Iannetta. You can’t complain about his K-rate and respectable xFIP. Even with the walk rate being insanely high he’ll still provide solid value; the HR/FB rate is just SSS noise.

    Patience is the key. Remember Tommy John surgery normally has a full recovery period of 12-18 months, but command is said to be the last skill to return. He is almost 22 months post-op now, and perhaps his arm is just on the longer side of that timeline. There’s no magical fairy that comes down in that 12th-18th month and zaps the BB/9 in half. I think the fact that he’s come this far bodes well for his future progress, as his skills indicate he won’t be just another arm surgery washout.

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  19. Sausage says:

    After a wonderful few weeks without Volquez … he drew me back in today with his 9K/1BB performance. Uggh. I’ve really got a problem. Dropped Bedard for him this time. I’m assuming Bedard will not repeat his career season in Baltimore….

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    • Mike Podhorzer says:

      He was on my bench the last two weeks when he only had 1 start, and I didn’t miss him. But the 2 starts this week were too tempting for me to continue benching him, so he was in my lineup. I was shaking my head during the first inning, oh boy, here we go again! Thankfully he dominated after that. Hopefully his work with Price and his pitching grip was the explanation for the improved control and that it continues.

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