Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dan Wheeler 2009

Dan Wheeler should begin 2009 as the Tampa Bay Rays closer. He's coming off a 2008 season in which he had a WHIP of 0.99 almost equally the career best 0.98 that he set with Houston in 2005. He had a good season, but there is some reason for concern. Hidden below the solid ERA (3.12) and WHIP, his strikeout rate deteriorated to 7.7...the lowest its been since 2004 by a wide margin. Meanwhile his grounball rate dropped to 28.4%. That's one of the lowest I've ever seen. So are his worsening component stats indicative of a problem, or just a one year blip? It's hard to tell. Given the small number of innings that relievers pitch (66.1 in Wheeler's case) there do tend to be larger one year fluctuations in their numbers. I would suggest watching his first month or so to see if there's any continued slippage in his K/9 rate, or whether it rebounds to its previous level around 9.

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