Position Battles: Mets’ 5th Starter, Pt. 2: Tim Redding

Yesterday, we examined the multitude of questions facing the Mets’ rotation entering 2009 and examined fifth-starter candidate Freddy Garcia. Garica isn’t the only free-agent signee looking for a fresh start in Queens, however: Tim Redding will also vie for the last spot in the Mets’ rotation.

The 31 year-old Redding has been a roster nomad during the course of his career, not an altogether surprising turn of events for a hurler with a career 4.85 FIP. The Rochester, New York native was originally selected by the Houston Astros in the 20th round of the 1998 amateur draft. Redding pitched for the ‘Stros from 2001-2004, transitioning between the bullpen and the starting rotation. The right-hander generally didn’t find Enron/Astros Field/Minute Maid to his liking, as he posted inflated HR rates in three of his four seasons in the Lone Star State. He did turn in a decent 2003 season, however, with a 4.12 FIP.

Redding was shipped to the Padres in the spring of ’05 for Humberto Quintero, but scarcely pitched for the Fathers before being bartered to the Yankees during the summer. He posted a 6.61 FIP between the two clubs in 30.2 innings. Coming off of such a poor year, Redding accepted a minor league pact from the White Sox in 2006 and spent the entire campaign at AAA Charlotte. The veteran performed adequately, with 7.1 K/9, 2.69 BB/9 and a 4.07 FIP.

The pitching-starved Nationals came calling in 2007, and Redding joined the club’s AAA New Orleans affiliate to begin the year. Striking out 6.32 per nine innings and walking 2.41, Redding was called back up to the big leagues for the first time since his ugly ’05 stint with San Diego and New York. In 84 frames for Washington, Redding posted a 3.64 ERA. However, the underlying numbers were less impressive: with a 1.24 K/BB ratio (5.04 K/9, 4.07 BB/9), a 5.17 FIP and a low BABIP, Redding figured to regress in 2008.

Redding’s ERA did head north this past season, as his FIP (4.93) and ERA (4.95) were nearly a perfect match. The 5-11, 225 pounder did improve his peripherals somewhat, with 5.93 K/9 and 3.21 BB/9, though he did remain homer-prone (1.34 HR/9). However, despite Washington’s dearth of starting options, Redding was non-tendered by the Nats. He latched on to the Mets on a one-year, $2.25 million deal earlier this offseason. While one of Redding’s competitors (Garcia) has plenty of health issues to answer, Redding is not entirely in the clear either: Redding had surgery during the offseason to repair a stress fracture in his left foot and is now dealing with a sore shoulder.

A four-pitch guy (91 MPH curve, mid-80’s slider, high-70’s curve, low-80’s changeup), Redding lacks any definitive strength as a pitcher. His K rates are slightly below league average, his walk rate is ordinary and he’s a bit prone to grooving a pitch that ends up in the bleachers. That’s not to say he doesn’t have some value: the threshold for fifth starters is very low, and teams benefit from just getting better than replacement-level pitching from the spot. For fantasy purposes, though? It’s probably best to avoid Redding.

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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.

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