By R.J. Anderson //
Biggest Surprise: James McDonald
No secret to regular Bloomberg Sports blog readers, is a favorite ’round these parts. McDonald is worthy of the endearment thrown his way because of his stellar strikeout rate (8.32 K/9 IP). His playable 4.09 ERA is backed by a 3.19 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a stat that runs along the same scale as ERA but strips out the impact of defense, park effects and other factors beyond a pitcher’s control). McDonald was acquired for a half season of a non-elite reliever, a technique Billy Beane described as “Building a Closer” in Moneyball.
Biggest Bust: Charlie Morton
One of the keys in the Nate McLouth deal, Morton’s 2010 season never opened the Pleasantville gates. Good build and strong velocity make Morton a pitcher scouts like, but his stuff ha yet to translate to strikeouts in the big leagues. After returning from the disabled list, the occasional big strikeout game disappeared too, making him virtually unwatchable. He’s better than the abysmal 8.11 ERA he’s posted this season, but there are many pitchers with a lot more potential, even in deep leagues.
2011 Keeper Alert: James McDonald
McDonald should get his first shot at a 200-inning season next year, which could translate into lots of strikeouts and solid ratios, even if the win total might falter playing for the rebuilding Pirates.
2011 Regression Alert: Paul Maholm
Maholm is a groundball-heavy pitcher who relies heavily on his infield defense taking fieldable balls and converting them into outs. Unfortunately, the infield defense did not do a worthwhile job this season, and thus, Maholm wound up with an ERA over 5. If the Pirates address their hole-filled defense this off-season, expect Maholm to bounce back and make for a nifty sleeper.