Last week we took a look at some rookies whose names had peppered my inbox, and we will continue this week with a few first-year pitchers. All of these pitchers are on the VORP leader boards for rookie starters, but that just gauges their value for this year while putting their peripherals to the side; what we want to sort out is how these starters will fare in their second year in the majors, and are they worth keeping in mind for 2009?
That BABIP issue is the only thing that could be bothersome with Jurrjens in 2009, as an increase in that number would bring up his opponent line. He doesn't walk too many hitters right now, but if his opponents batting average increases from its current .257 because his BABIP climbs, he'll be letting too many hitters on base. Luckily, he isn't giving up much in the power department, as the opposition has slugged just .382 against him (that's a .125 ISO, right around
There's nothing wrong with relying on your defense if you have a good one behind you, but you would still like to see Smith increase his punchout totals next time. The 24-year-old southpaw may not have the stuff to do so though, as his fastball averages only 87.5 mph, but he does employ a neat breaking ball.
The Mariners have had a small bright spot in their rotation outside of
The samples are too small to draw much from regardless; it's just over a month's worth of starts. Rowland-Smith is the kind of guy who you want to pay attention to, though, because not everyone will know that he's not just a reliever, especially given that he pitches for Seattle. He's been a flyball pitcher during his time in the majors, with a 0.7 G/F ratio -- that's helpful for him when he pitches at Safeco, a park that deflates offense. The southpaw also displayed an odd split, having had trouble facing lefty hitters: they have mashed him to the tune of .313/.400/.452 this year. Given how little time he's logged in the majors, it's hard to tell if this is going to be a constant issue, or if it's a blip we can expect will go away with larger samples. He was more effective against lefties than right-handers during his short stints in the majors in '07, so keep an eye out. If his line against lefties levels out -- and it should given he's a lefty himself -- he may have more value than his '08 has given him credit for, though on the downside, he will still be pitching for the Mariners.
Hochevar's fastball averages 90.5 mph, and his slider is his second most oft-used pitch, coming in at 82.7. He also uses a curveball (75.9 mph, 9.5 percent of the time) and a changeup (82.4, 9.7) to round out his pitches. He has averaged 3.7 pitches per plate appearance this year, which seems low when you think of his early season walk rates, but now that he's at a much more manageable 3.2 BB/9, it makes sense. There are a few bright points when considering Hochevar for '09. He did manage to bring down his walk rate in the second half before going down with an injury, though whether that's because he got the situation under control, or that he was putting it on a platter for the opposition is up for debate. His strand rate of 62.3 is well below the league average; his FIP is 4.40 thanks to this, more than a full run below his ERA. Considering he gave up a .323/.383/.480 line with runners on, that may have more to do with Hochevar pitching from the stretch than it does with poor luck.
Marc Normandin is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact Marc by