The good men of Bluebird Banter have a sweet little offseason feature wherein they mine their readership for predictions. When it came for Marc Rzepczynski, I couldn't resist offering my two cents.
As a dyed in the wool R-Zep supporter, I quickly started typing numbers as they came to my head. Without giving too much thought or consideration, this is what I jabbed into my
I think 120 innings would be great. 8 K/9, 3 BB/9, 1.10 HR/9. 4.30 FIP, 8-10 Won loss.I threw the W/L record in as for "when in Rome" sake but the rest, upon reflection, doesn't look too bad. Certainly not unattainable. The Bill James Projection System TM figures Rzepczynski for a 110.0 IP, 9.08 K/9, 4.25 BB/9, with a 0.82 home run rate. Good enough for a tidy 3.83 FIP.
Others remain unconvinced. Many see R-Zep as a potential bullpen arm, perhaps developing into a Scott Downs high-leverage jack-of-all-trades. While that role is crucial and Rzepczynski could possibly fill it, why settle for the pen when the rotation is within his grasp?
Consider the man pictured above, Jorge De La Rosa. Like R-Zep, De La Rosa battled control issues for years before cutting his walks to a manageable number. The Brewers tried JDLR as a reliever before he eventually moved to the rotation full time with the Royals after surviving a stern DFAing.
Since moving to the Colorado Rockies, De La Rosa proved himself quite valuable. Decreasing the walks and increasing his ground ball rates helped him amass nearly 8 WAR in three seasons in the mountains. A 2 year plus an option, $11 AAV contract was his reward after testing free agency this fall.
Looking at the De La Rosa's strikeouts, walks, home runs and the like, there is no reason to believe Marc Rzepczynski can't put up nearly identical numbers this very season.
De La Rosa throws harder but they miss nearly the same number of bats. They handle lefties and rights with similar levels of effectiveness. If anything, R-Zep shows similar control now, as a 25 year old with less than 2 years in the Show, to De La Rosa at his 29 year-old peak.
Don't like George of the Rose? Consider another young lefty picking up big-time hype and praise everywhere these days, Gio Gonzalez. How different, exactly, are Gonzalez and Rzepczynski? All numbers across 2009 & 2010.
|Marc Rzepczynski||Gio Gonzalez|
I must be getting old and forgetful, which one of these guys is an OMGSTUDALWESTFAVORITE and which one is potentially battling with Jesse freaking Litsch for a rotation spot?
Obviously the innings are a thing, as well they should be. 200 inning seasons are 200 inning seasons, giving more legitimacy/stability to Gio's rates. But why the huge gulf in opinion?
If you factor in more park effects than simply HR/FB normalization...you see what I mean. Marc Rzepczynski has all the tools to be a league-average starter— and a history of using them. Considering a few similar starters, he starts to look even better.
All numbers courtesy of Fangraphs.
Getty Images photo courtesy of Daylife.