Saturday, March 19, 2011

30 A's in 30 Days: Josh Outman

Acquired: Traded from Philadelphia (with IF Adrian Cardenas and 1B/OF Matt Spencer) for SP Joe Blanton (July 17, 2008).
Contract: One year through 2011 (not yet eligible for arbitration).
Position: Possible fifth starter; certain stirrups and socks

2011 Projected ERA: 3.77

2010 Season: Outman missed the entire 2010 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2009. My son Jalen and I were sitting in the field level seats at San Diego's PETCO Park when Outman left his June 19, 2009 start against the Padres with two outs in the second inning. Entering that season, Outman had shuffled between the bullpen and starting rotation with many scouts projecting him for a relief role due to his lack of strong secondary pitches. In early May, he joined the A's rotation for good and held batters to a .194 batting average over a nine start stretch. He was even getting some casual All-Star Game consideration from fans when he went down. For those who don't know, Outman's injury was only the second most
gut-wrenching loss of that evening (third paragraph).

2011 Over/Under: Interestingly enough, during Outman's breakthrough half two-fifths of a season in 2009, his
xFIP was nearly a full run higher than his ERA. Maybe you embrace esoteric statistics and maybe you don't, but it IS commonly accepted that a pitcher's command is one of the last things to return after Tommy John surgery. In 442 minor league innings, Outman's walks-per-nine inning rate was 4.3. He's been better at the big league level – in nearly 350 fewer innings – but, I'll take the OVER in what could be an up and down 2011. He's already acknowledged the likelihood of starting the season at Triple-A.

By the Numbers: .150/.209/.225 – It's a VERY small sample size, you guys, but Outman's career slash line against left-handed hitters (in just 87 plate appearances) is ridiculous. When I first became an A's fan, the
Oakland rotation was entirely right-handed. The late 1980s Bash Brothers teams only featured a single southpaw starter, Curt Young. I was spoiled by Barry Zito and Mark Mulder over the past decade, so Outman had damn well better pitch to the unattainable expectations I've established for him.

Surefire 2011 Prediction: In a surprising upset, the season-long Josh Outman puns from fans and broadcasters won't make me as physically ill as the play on words that'll follow A's reliever Grant Balfour around for all of 2011.

Old School Rap Track for the Season:
Everyday Struggle, Notorious B.I.G.

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