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NL SP Fallers: Hudson & Oswalt

Posted By Mike Axisa On March 16, 2011 @ 5:11 pm In Starting Pitchers | 3 Comments

This morning we look at two young risers, now let’s look at two old fallers…

Tim Hudson

The 35-year-old Hudson returned in a big way last year, his first full season since having reconstructive elbow surgery in August 2008. He finished the season with a 2.83 ERA in 228.2 IP, tossing up a microscopic 1.15 WHIP to go along with 17 wins. Hudson didn’t strike out many batters (5.47 K/9) but that’s not his game, he’s all about the ground balls. His 64.1% grounder rate last year was the best in baseball by more than four full percentage points, and are part of the reason why he outperformed his 4.08 FIP by so much. Hudson held batters to a .249 BABIP overall and just .188 (!!!) on ground balls last season, two figures that are exceptionally low for a sinkerballer. Replace (mostly) Omar Infante (+2 ADR) with Dan Uggla (-6 ADR) at second, and Hudson will have to fight more than just natural regression.

Expect Huddie’s strand rate (81.2%) and BABIP to regress next season, and for his ERA to more closely resemble his career FIP (3.82) than last year’s ERA. He’s still a fine fantasy option, but another sub-3.00 ERA would surely be a surprise.

Roy Oswalt

Was I the only one surprised to see that Oswalt is still only 33? I figured he’d be approaching 35, 36 by now. Anyway, he was very good (3.42 ERA) before last year’s trade and flat out dominant (1.74 ERA) after it, or at least that’s what the ERA’s say. The underlying performance didn’t change all that much…

Pre-trade: 129 IP, 8.37 K/9, 2.37 BB/9, 0.91 HR/9, .273 BABIP, 3.37 FIP

Post-trade: 82.2 IP, 7.95 K/9, 2.29 BB/9, 0.65 HR/9, .221 BABIP, 3.13 FIP

I think the giant ERA spike has more to do with a) small sample size, b) BABIP luck, and c) moving to a better defensive team (-2.9 UZR for Houston, +0.8 for Philly) than something like being motivated by joining a contender. That’s certainly possible, but I don’t want to give it too much credit.

Oswalt had a 3.72 FIP (6.83 K/9, 2.23 BB/9, 0.84 HR/9) from 2007 through 2009, which is certainly very good, but not at the level of last year’s performance. Unless you believe that Philadelphia’s other Roy suddenly learned a new trick or found the fountain of youth, he’s likely to regress back to the mid-to-high 3.00′s ERA guy he was in the past few seasons. Again, like Hudson, Oswalt is still a quality pitcher, but expecting a repeat of last year’s work (2.76 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) is more foolish than anything else.


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