It will be a while yet until we can get a solid grasp on what a pitcher’s stats mean for 2011, but small signs can still lead us in the right direction.
If you are looking to buy low on a pitcher who can end up being a strikeout stud, may I suggest taking a look at Edinson Volquez and/or Daniel Hudson.
Back in 2008, Edinson Volquez was fantasy gold, posting a 3.21 ERA with 206 strikeouts in 196 innings. A Tommy John Surgery and drug suspension later, Volquez is trying to find the form that made him such a dominant force back then.
The early results have not been good. In 28.1 innings this season, Volquez has a 6.35 ERA and has allowed a whopping seven home runs. On the bright side, Volquez has struck out 31 and opposing hitters have only made contact on only 73.5 percent of their swings, which is in line with his career contact rate against (74.7 percent). While he will never be a command specialist, Volquez should improve his control a bit as the season moves along. His current rate of six walks per nine innings is extremely high, even for his standards.
The key is the strikeout potential. As the control improves, even just a bit, and opposing hitters find a bit less success with the long-ball (30.4 percent HR/FB rate currently) the strikeouts should remain high and lead to much more success.
Volquez also has a ground ball rate over 50 percent in his 28.1 innings this year and such was the case his 62.2 innings last year.
He has been recently traded one-for-one for Jonny Gomes, Johnny Cueto and Brett Gardner.
Daniel Hudson generated plenty of pre-draft sleeper hype and with good reason. After his trade from the White Sox to the Diamondbacks last season, Hudson posted a 4.38 K/BB rate, 1.69 ERA and microscopic 0.84 WHIP. He had also shown plenty of strikeout potential and good command in the minor leagues.
So far in 2011, Hudson has not seen anything close to the results that he did with the D-Backs last season. In 24.1 innings, he has a 5.62 ERA and has walked 12 batters. The walks may be the most surprising number in the young season. Hudson walked only 2.5 per nine innings over his minor league career and walked only 1.8 per nine with the D-Back last season.
Hudson’s command should come around and when that couples with his above average strikeout rate, his overall results should improve dramatically. He is getting plenty of swings and misses (27.5 percent whiff rate) and plenty of strikeouts (26 in 24.1 innings).
Hudson has recently been traded one-for-one for Brandon McCarthy, Javier Vazquez and Jhonny Peralta.