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Saturday, August 1, 2009

An evaluation of Jarrod Washburn

At the trade deadline, the Tigers acquired left hander Jarrod Washburn for Luke French and Mauricio Robles. Ok. We all know that. Now, lets evaluate Jarrod Washburn...

Washburn is a dependable arm at the back of a rotation who will eat innings and give us a reasonable chance to win games. He also will throw strikes and he won't beat himself with walks. For a team that had two rookies in its rotation and Galaragga pitching like a #5 starter, there is a lot of value in that. We needed another starter and he was a good one to get.

But, I don't have any delusions about Washburn and I am not fooled by his ERA. And, I hope others are not. Essentially, he is an ideal #4 starter. His FIP has been roughly 4.7 the last 3 years and that is a number that most good #4 starters will post. This year, he is having a career season and could be a good #3 for us. But, he has an incredibly low BABIP and high LOB % and was helped out immensely by the best defensive outfield in baseball in Seattle and their spacious ballpark. His ERA makes him look like a top of the rotation starter, but he is not. Think Nate Robertson circa 2006. That is what Washburn is.

His FIP of 3.75 looks great but that should also rise when his HR/FB % rises. In fact, his xFIP is 4.66. Also, we will need Thomas and Granderson in the outfield on the days he pitches and they are going to need to cover some ground b/c he is a flyball pitcher. Washburn will definitely make our defense work.

On a side note, he has the best fastball-type pitch (split finger fastball) this year according to Fan Graphs. He is also on pace to post the best WAR of his career (if not, it will be a close second to his season in 2002). Even if/when he reverts back to his career norms as a 4.5 ERA-type pitcher, I really don't see anything wrong with that. He will eat a lot of innings for us and Leyland is going to lean on him a lot to make sure our bullpen stays rested for Galaragga and Porcello. I expect to see a lot of 100+ pitching performances for Washburn. But, I just hope that people are not expecting greatness from this guy. He has been a league average to slightly above league average starter most of his career. That is what he is and that is what should be expected of him during his brief 2 month stint with us.

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