Sunday, January 4, 2009

Breaking Down...Wesley Wright

One of the nicer surprises of 2008 was the emergence of Wesley Wright - a Rule 5 pick from the Dodgers' system - out of the Bullpen. His ERA wasn't great (5.01), but as you hopefully have gleaned from our discussions on relievers, ERA can be misleading. Let's take a look at Wesley's 2008.

Appeared in 71 games - 55.2 innings. 5.01 ERA, 1.42 WHIP.
57:34 (K:BB)
.214 Batting Average Against, .400 SLG against.
4.1 pitches per plate appearance

We have almost an equal amount of data for home and away:
27.2 innings at home / 28.0 innings on the road
5 HR given up at home / 3 on the road
.194 BAA at home / .234 on the road

3 of his HR came on an 0-1 count, but when he gets that first pitch over for a strike batters only hit .183 against him - but he has two pitches: throwing a fastball 70% of the time and a slider 26% of the time (only very occasionally tossing in a curve and a change-up). 95% of at-bats in which Wright gets behind, he'll throw that fastball - so there's really not a surprise if you have good plate discipline. Got 89 flyball outs compared to 63 groundball outs.

Now about those appearances:
71 games. Gave up earned runs in 20. Gave up 2+ ER in 7. Walked batters in 27 games. When Wright gives up a run - earned or otherwise - the Astros were 4-17 (which makes sense, any time a reliever gives up a run it hurts your chances of winning.)

Basically Wright needs to work fast. On pitches 1-15, his BAA is .197 compared to .412 on 16+.

He'll be 24 at the end of January, and in his second full season should become accustomed to the long season. July was his most effective month (12 games, 2.46 ERA), while his August/September ERAs were 7.27/5.19, respectively. Still, despite the ERA there is room to be excited. 0.96 walks per inning pre All-Star Break, 0.52 walks per inning after the Break. As he continues to get the feel for the ball and the Majors, with some off-season adjustments and a good spring, Wright should contribute well out of the bullpen, or - as rumored - in the rotation.

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