February 22, 2007

Maine's Luck?

Michael Salfino at SNY, writes about John Maineand how lucky he was last year:

James has Maine pitching 130 innings of 4.36 ERA. PECOTA gives Maine a slightly lower ERA (4.22), but less innings (119.7). James and PECOTA both project a 7-7 record. It seems like a .500 record is the default projection for any sub-200 inning pitcher with a middling ERA regardless of the team behind him.

I have no firm conviction of what Maine is going to do in 2007. But there is one substantive reason for Mets fans to be excited. Last year, only one starter in all of baseball held batters to a lower batting average plus slugging average on fastballs -- Roger Clemens. Maine's BPS allowed on fastballs was .529, Clemens's was .518.

I agree with those who state that the fastball is the most important pitch for a starter to master. Everything else builds off that foundation. And most of the other starters on the list behind Maine and Clemens names you'd expect to see: Pedro Martinez, Carlos Zambrano, Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Anibal Sanchez, Jared Weaver, Scott Kazmir and John Lackey. There's not an unsuccessful pitcher in the top 10 in lowest BPS allowed on fastballs in either league.

Maybe Maine was lucky on a lot of those fastballs. Maybe many of them were smoked right to Reyes or Valentin or one of the outfielders. But I doubt that. It remains to be seen whether Maine can sustain his success with his fastball and become a top-end rather than back-end starter. But there is cause for optimism on the projection front for him and, more generally, for the top of this 2007 Mets rotation.

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