At this past season’s trade deadline, the Chicago Cubs sent starting pitcher Ted Lilly to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lilly pitched well for LA down the stretch and the Dodgers have rewarded him yesterday with a new three-year, $33M deal.
Lilly spent this past offseason recovering from labrum surgery, but was able to make his first start by mid-April. It was clear that he was not at full strength from the get-go, but he did build strength and velocity as the season wore on.
Being a fly ball pitcher has led to many home runs allowed throughout his career, but Lilly has been able to limit damage by keeping runners off base over the past few seasons. Moving from Wrigley Field to Dodger Stadium should help lower his home run total in 2011. His HR/9 was 1.87 at Wrigley Field and 1.36 at Dodger Stadium in 2010.
Lilly’s improvement in command over the last three seasons has turned him into a reliable fantasy pitcher, but he does come with some risk.
In 2010, Lilly held a .259 BABIP, which was the lowest of his career. That being said, his BABIP’s have been under .300 for the past three seasons due to a lower than average line drive rate and a very high fly ball rate. It would still be safe to assume that he doesn’t repeat such a low BABIP in 2011. He is an above average strikeout pitcher, but not top-tier.
35 years old in January, Lilly represents a mid-tier fantasy option with little upside. The addition of a cut-fastball in 2010 should help him keep hitters off balance going forward, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a slight regression in strikeouts.
Look for a upper 3′s ERA, 1.10-ish WHIP and good, not great, strikeout numbers in 2011.