There's a glowing report from Brad Mills about Nelson Figueroa's short career in Houston:
“That veteran ability to know how to pitch was big, and that was probably the determining factor of putting him in the rotation. He’s done absolutely outstanding.”
Now, let's be clear here - no one is doubting that Figueroa has had a pretty good run in Houston in his 17 appearances (nine starts). He has thrown more IPs this season than in any other season since 2002. His 1.26 (cumulative) 2010 WHIP is lower than his 1.42 career WHIP. His K:BB ratio (2.17) is the second-best of his career (2.46 in 2009). Yep, it's all sunshine and rainbows.
But last night was hardly a statement game. The lineup the Reds sent out there wasn't exactly strong (and that's no knock on them - they won the division, they should be resting their starters). How strong? Willie Bloomquist was the Red with the most career ABs with 1871. The Reds sent out three players with fewer than 100 career ABs (Valaika - 34; Alonso - 23; Francisco - 68), and three more players with fewer than 600 ABs (Heisey - 195; Janish - 525; Miller - 498).
So when the most experienced guys in the lineup are Willie Bloomquist and Laynce Nix, let's take it for what it's worth. The take-away from last night is that we know Figueroa can beat a lineup with 2300 fewer career ABs - total - than Carlos Lee. He damn well better have held that lineup scoreless.
This season, Figueroa has a 2.43 ERA/1.23 WHIP against teams with a record of .500 or better, but 4.19 ERA/1.29 WHIP against teams with a losing record. Nope, let's not read too much into last night's start.