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Rockies Add Slowey To Their Pile Of Arms

Posted By Dan Wade On December 8, 2011 @ 4:15 pm In Starting Pitchers | No Comments

The Rockies seem hell-bent on stockpiling low-cost arms this offseason, and there seem to be plenty of willing partners out there with arms to spare. After bringing in Tyler Chatwood from the Angels, Dan O’Dowd and his team acquired Kevin Slowey from the Twins for a player to be named later, who would turn out to be Daniel Turpen.

For AL-only or mixed folks, this trade is a nonentity. Turpen will likely spend most or all of the season at Triple-A Rochester, and even if he were called up to the majors, he won’t be the team’s closer, set-up man, or even secondary set-up option, meaning he’ll struggle to get either holds or saves. As far as Slowey is concerned with respect to mixed, I just see too many more consistent options out there that will give you equivalent strikeout numbers without making you sweat over your ERA.

For NL-Only players, Slowey has to be something of a puzzling option. He walks virtually no one, has a 3-win season in the recent past, yet spent most of 2011 in the minors or on the DL and could win a single decision, falling to 0-8 with a 1.42 WHIP despite walking less than 2 percent of the hitters he faced. I love this move to the National League for Slowey, and if he had gone to Citi Field or PetCo, I’d be almost giddy — he used to be one of my favorite sleepers after all. But the move to Coors Field makes him an extremely unnerving option.

Here are Slowey’s numbers from 2011 as well as Jair Jurrjens

Slowey: 4.36 xFIP, 5.16 K/9, 0.76 BB/9, 31.1 GB%

Jurrjens: 4.23 xFIP, 5.33 K/9, 2.61 BB/9, 42 GB%

Jurrjens is obviously better: A few more strikeouts, a lot more groundballs, and even though he does walk a few more than Slowey, no one is confusing him for Jonathan Sanchez. Given the choice between the two on value alone, the pick is Jurrjens, no doubt, but I bet it’s closer than you first thought when I threw out both names. However, Slowey went undrafted in most drafts and will probably be undrafted again next year, while Jurrjens was taken 225th overall and will probably rise based on his strong first half performance in 2011.

If Slowey were staying in Minnesota, he might intrigue me more than he does now. The Twins are posed to have a rangy outfield, something that would indulge his flyball tendencies, as will the ample playing field. Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez may be every bit as rangy as Denard Span and Ben Revere, but Slowey’s already inflated 10.2 percent HR/FB rate is going to be exacerbated in the thin air of Denver, and before you point out that his rate was achieved in fewer than 60 innings, his career rate is now 10.0 percent, a negligible difference.

To be frank, I don’t really see what the Rockies like about Slowey in their park. I’m sure they see that he is perpetually in the strike zone, allowing a free pass about once per game, but the fact that he’s going to give up a lot of flyballs even when he’s pitching well, and that the flyballs hit against him tend to be hit with some ferocity must have made them at least a little skittish. If you’re in a league so deep that you have to take fifth starters, consider only pitching Slowey on the road, where divisional starts in San Francisco and San Diego will make him look better than he is.

I still like this deal for the Rockies, they got a pitcher who was once good and who possesses above-average control for a minor leaguer no one took during the Rule 5 draft, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for fantasy players.


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