With Halloween coming up, I have decided to tackle the zombie issue in the major leagues. And by this I mean the walking dead…arms. Gotcha. Here are some guys, for various reasons (but mostly just young guys with large innings loads) who could be zombie-like at some point next year:
Heads our list because, c’mon, he was a closer/setup guy before this year. Now do not get me wrong, I owned Wilson almost all year- I love the guy. But going from 73 and 2/3 innings to 204(WOW! I had to double check this number) is an astounding jump. It’s a testament to Wilson’s toughness he went so many innings this year. Without too much research, inkling, foresight, pretty much with only a heap of common sense, I can tell you, C.J. Wilson will go through some point next year with a dead-ish arm. This could mean a variety of things; from him simply losing velocity and becoming less effective for a stretch to him needing to be shut down with a tired arm. But with the load of the past season AND the tough postseason, I am telling you- Wilson will experience zombie arm syndrome (ZAS) at some point. And yes, I just coined that phrase.
Ricky Romero is going to be a good pitcher for years to come. His changeup is too good to not be effective. However, in 2009, he threw 192 innings in 2009, and 210 in 2010 (cool beans!). All I’m saying is that he went from 88 in 2007 to 160ish in 2008 to the aforementioned numbers and relies on the difference between his fastball and change to be effective… this could all be a moot point as John Farrell, pitching guru and former Red Sox great is apparently in line for the managerial spot in Toronto, but I’d watch for a midseason swoon from a tired Romero, as this year’s September swoon (1.59 WHIP) might suggest. I’m still drafting him though.
Another case of over doubling major league innings (Gonzalez threw 61 in the minors in 2009, but I say there is a large difference between minor league innings and major league ones- especially out of the bullpen as Gonzalez often did), Gonzalez went from 98.2 IP in 2009 to 202.2 in 2010. Gonzalez showed all kinds of signs of learning and becoming a Jonathan Sanchez-type starter this past year, but it is undeniable that he saw a considerable innings spike and throws lots of pitches in general as he has a relatively high BB rate, which got worse in September as did his other stats (except for BAA, which leads me to believe it was more of a control issue…). Once again, I could be totally wrong and Oakland may have a genius way of working their pitchers just so to their peak effectiveness (actually, pretty likely). But MY bet going into 2011 is that Gio Gonzalez is going to have a couple of months where his fastball doesn’t have that same ziiiiip. ZAS STRIKES AGAIN! FEEEEED ME ARM AND SHOULDER LIGAMENTS!
Ho nasty was this kid down the stretch? Actually, he wasn’t. Check out those splits. He tired out as September arrived, as his BAA took a huge jump. It had sat around .190 (WOW) for many months, only to jump over .300 in September/October. Latos went from 50.2 major league innings (123 overall- 47 in AA, 25.1 in A ball) in 2009 to 184.2 in 2010. Now I’m not saying to not draft or keep Latos next year- quite the opposite, I’ll take him both ways in my leagues. Owners should be prepared for a month in the middle of the season where his numbers drop off/the league corrects to him. Unlike the aforementioned starters, Latos had the added benefit of being a newbie on the scene meaning teams did not have as much info on him going into games. With a season of data on the young hurler, not only are the innings going to catch up to him, but the hitters are as well- yes, even in the NL West. Baseball has become a game of technology and patterns and you can bet your ass there are a great number of NL hitters who spent some serious time analyzing some embarrassing AB’s against the young Latos. All that being said, he’s one of my keepers for next year in my league with my buddies, so don’t get too down, people.
Go back and look at Phil Hughes monthly splits. Do it here. Going from around 100 Major and minor league innings to 175 clearly affected the young righty, as his numbers dipped in June-July-August. Like Latos, Hughes got the butt end of some good scouting I’d bet, as teams got a better feel for him pitching against them. Hughes is an interesting candidate for ZAS, though. Did he already go through his growing pains? Is my Yankee bias shining through? Yes and yes. But bias aside, the innings did add up and hitters did get smarter. The Yankees scored a ton of runs for him and that can be a sort of mental cushion as well. It is my opinion that it isn’t the year of the jump in innings that gets a pitcher, but rather the year after. Hughes is in my book as a guy to be cautious with in 2011, as I see the innings and league catching up with him.
And who knows, maybe all the innings ill catch up with Sabathia too and it won’t matter when the Yankees sign Cliff Lee. Sigh. I can hope, can’t I?
BEWARE ZOMBIE ARM SYNDROME
and don’t eat too much candy corn, you’ll trip on corn syrup (so I’m told)
GO RANGERS! GO ZOMBIES!