This week on I’d Roster That we have a couple of left-handed starting pitchers, a right-handed hitting shortstop, and a left-handed hitting left fielder. Let’s get to it, starting with the pitchers.
Patrick Corbin (23, left handed starting pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks) is in just his second season in Major League Baseball. In his first year in the league he did not exactly light the world on fire. He started 17 games, came into the game in relief five times (even picking up a single save), and pitched a total of 107 innings. He managed just a 4.54 ERA (which might have been a decent start for a rookie pitcher during the steroid era, but the average NL ERA in 2012 was 4.26), and struck out just 18.9% of the batters he faced (league average was north of 20%).
This year, Corbin is off to a better start. He has a skinny 1.80 ERA and a strike out rate of 20.1%. He has also earned himself four wins through his first six starts, so he is definitely looking pretty good. I’ll caution you that his HR/9 is just 0.5 (half of the league average) and well down from the 1.2 HR/9 he gave up a year ago.
But he’s also limiting all types of hits thanks to a fastball velocity that is up almost a full mile per hour and more horizontal movement on all of his pitches. His HR/9 rate will definitely increase, especially at Chase Field, but Patrick Corbin is a young pitcher that is on the rise. I’d Roster That.
Ross Detwiler (27, right handed starting pitcher, Washington Nationals) is struggling with a 1-3 record through his first six starts, but he has a 2.50 ERA and has given up zero, one, one, two and three earned runs in those outings. He’s been pitching against some pretty potent offensive teams with two starts against the Reds, a start against the Braves, and a start against the Cardinals (then one start against the hapless Mariners). But he’s striking out just 13.6% of the hitters he’s faced.
He’s able to succeed with such a low strikeout rate because he also has a very low walk rate (5.2%) and he’s been getting a ton of ground balls. Detwiler will benefit from the Nationals offense once players not-named Bryce Harper start playing up to their potential, and while Ross Detwiler will not ever be confused for Stephen Strasburg, he will definitely be an above average pitcher for the rest of the year. I’d Roster That.
On to the position players!
Zack Cozart (27, right handed hitting shortstop, Cincinnati Reds) is entering into his physical prime and entering his second season as the Reds’ everyday shortstop. Zack Cozart might be a guy that you grabbed in a late round of your draft, hoping that the 15 home runs he hit in 2012 would be a nice bonus, and maybe something he could build on for 2013. Hey, anytime you can get offense from a shortstop in today’s game, that’s a plus. Shortstops hit just .256/.310/.383 in 2012 so Cozart’s .246/.288/.399 line at least puts him near league average, and he grabbed 600 plate appearances so there is the added value of being able to pencil him into your lineup just about every day of the year.
But here’s the thing, he’s strikeout prone (18.8% in 2012), he doesn’t walk a lot, and despite pretty decent speed, he has just FOUR career stolen bases in his MLB career. This year, Cozart is striking out less (13.4%), and his BABIP is down more than 70 points to .206 (was .282 last year, and league average was right around .300) so that seems to suggest that he should get better, but even if he turns into the player he was last year, he really is not worth messing around with unless you are in a 10-team+ NL only league. Don’t Roster That.
Lucas Duda (27, left handed hitting left fielder, New York Mets) has the misfortune of playing for the New York Mets, and it might just be me, but my brain automatically equates losing with the Mets and their players, so I have a hard time just initially rostering any Mets (the surprising John Buck and consistently great David Wright notwithstanding). Lucas Duda doesn’t have huge lefty/righty splits, so he’s not really a platoon guy, but he has yet to play more than 121 games in a year.
This year Duda is hitting just .250, but he’s already worked 21 walks (19.6%, moving his OBP way up to .411) and has 11 extra base hits through his first 107 plate appearances. He was a 120 strike out guy a yer ago, and he’s on pace for nearly 100 strike outs again this year, but if he continues hitting the ball as hard as he is, he could hit 25-28 home runs (which would essentially make him a Josh Willingham type, assuming Willingham comes back to earth in 2013).
And hey, left fiedlers in the National League are not exactly lighting the world on fire, posting a .257/.337/.419 triple slash so far in 2013, which looks almost pedestrian next to Duda’s .250/.411/.524. I’d Roster That.
If you have anyone you’d like to get a second opinion on, feel free to reach out in any way you know how. Our Twitter and Facebook pages, the Twitter pages of myself, Clave, Dixon, or Nash, as well as any of the email addresses listed.