Perhaps the one Atlanta Braves pitcher I'm most looking forward to seeing this is year is surprisingly, Derek Lowe. He is the team's highest paid player (at $15 million per year), and up until the very last month of last season he had been a complete disappointment (bordering on an embarrassment) as a free agent signing.
From his first game as an Atlanta Braves starting pitcher in 2009 up to his last start of August 2010, Derek Lowe collected an ERA of 4.60, giving up 406 hits in 357.2 innings and collecting just 218 strikeouts. (For reference, Kenshin Kawakami had a 4.17 ERA during that same span.) But last September Lowe became the Phoenix thanks to some mechanical adjustments made by pitching coach Roger McDowell. That month Lowe tossed 30.2 innings, gave up 30 hits, struck out 29, and compiled a 1.17 ERA while winning all five of his starts and earning the National League pitcher of the month award.
Mind = boggled.
One of the most impressive feats that month was that he only walked three batters. Dare I say that's Greg Maddux-like. Consider that his September BB/9 was less than 1.0, a number greatly below the 3.04 BB/9 average as a Brave up through August 2010.
This will be a tough player to predict. Do you go with his pre-September 2010 numbers, or do you believe that he can at least recapture some of what he showed last September? By the way, the walks returned in the postseason (5 unintentional BB in 11.2 innings), though the strikeouts remained high (14), and overall he pitched very well (even gutsy).
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Derek Lowe's Baseball Reference comparable players by age (1000 equals most comparable). Kind of a menagerie of blah pitchers -- guys that were more about longevity than dominance.
Scott Sanderson (921)
Jim Lonborg (917)
John Burkett (909)
Danny Darwin (904)
Charlie Root (903)
Jack Billingham (903)
Joe Nuxhall (897)
Bob Forsch (897)
Dave Stewart (896)
David Wells (892)
Derek Lowe trivia fact: Lowe and his most comparable pitcher above, Scott Sanderson, were both born in Dearborn, Michigan. Clearly, if you're born in Dearborn, then this is the kind of pitcher you will be.