Thursday, March 05, 2009

Millwood - Rangers' Ace or Millstone?

It's probably not a good thing when articles written about what is supposed to be your best pitcher mention "Health" at least eight to ten times, including a quote from your manager. But Texas Ranger pitching has not been very good and Millwood is supposed to be the team's best pitcher and he has been bloody awful the past two years.

Kevin Millwood has been either very good or very bad in his career. He has had seasons where he compiled WHIP statistics like 0.996 and 1.157. But he has also had seasons where his WHIP was 1.461 and 1.622. And though his headlines talk about his health being an issue, he hasn't missed a whole lot of starts in his career. He missed ten starts in 2001, ten in 2004, five in 2005 and five last year. We are not exactly talking Kerry Wood here.

The Fan perceives that the "health" issues have been used as a cover for some pretty bad seasons where he just didn't pitch very well. The last two have been particularly poor. With the Rangers the past two seasons, he has gone 19-24 with 549 baserunners in 341 innings. That's almost Adam Eaton territory.

In fairness, his FIP last year was 4.08 which means that his fielders didn't help him a whole lot so perhaps he was somewhat unlucky last year. But his Line Drive Percentage was quite a bit higher than his career average of around 21%. Last year it was 25%, meaning the batters were squaring the ball up a lot more often. It's kind of hard to always catch laser beams.

The Rangers have always been a team that can hit. But they need good pitching to take the next step and compete in the American League West. The Oakland A's have improved while the Angels have regressed. If the Rangers could just field a staff of league average pitchers, they would have a chance. Millwood is a big part of that. He's had some really good seasons and one this year would be welcome. Spring Training doesn't mean much, but he's started so far with five scoreless innings. That's a good sign. Of course, he has to remain healthy...which translates to: "He's got to get people out."

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

The Rangers need some new faces in the FO. These people are incapable of finding a quality starter.