Sunday, March 11, 2012

Luis Mendoza and Pitching Lines

Yesterday, I made the comment that if Mendoza can post similar lines throughout 2012, he can find success. I want to be clear on the meaning of that statement. So let's take a look at the line that Luis Mendoza posted yesterday against the Colorado Rockies: 4 innings pitches, 2 hits allowed, 0 runs allowed, 0 walks allowed and 3 strikeouts. He threw 48 pitches, 36 of which were strikes, while recording eight ground outs to just one air out. Not to mention that both hits were also ground balls.

Make no mistake about it this is a heck of a line. The reason for my comment was to illustrate that if Mendoza was this kind of pitcher during his brief two start call up, and during his breakout in 2011, I would be much more optimistic about his potential moving forward. However, this isn't the case.

Last season in Omaha, Mendoza posted a 5.05 K/9 to a 3.37 BB/9, and a league average ground ball percentage of 43%. Where Mendoza did find some success was his slightly above average pop up percentage. In his two September starts Mendoza was virtually the same guy, with virtually the same flukey success. Yes, Mendoza reworked his delivery. Yes, Mendoza put together a great 2011. No, it isn't sustainable.

This brings me back to my comment from yesterday. Even in Mendoza's first Spring start he posted the same type of line as he did in 2011. If Mendoza continues to post roughly as many walks and strikeouts and an average ground ball rate, he could have a perfect ERA and I would still believe it a mistake if he opens in the rotation. However, if Mendoza's line can change and he keeps his ERA down, my interest will grow.

Yesterday, for the first time since Mendoza has been on the rotation radar, he actually posted a quality line. The guy was dominate. It will be these type of lines that Mendoza will need to post in order to be a legitimate candidate for the rotation.

It must be said that it is likely much more than coincidence that the first time Mendoza's line correlates with his earned runs, he was facing the Colorado Rockies' less than normal lineup. No Tulo. No Car-Go. My comment was in no way emphasizing Mendoza's line as a turning point. I merely wanted to point out that it was that kind of line that would be necessary on a regular basis in order for me to take Mendoza seriously as a rotation candidate.

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