Time to recycle other sites for the complete lack of Jays news! Fangraphs has a nifty review of Jays up and comers that made me want to tack on something about Jesse Carlson. They mention that Bill James predicts him to stay productive next year, which is almost certainly due to his high strikeout rate. Despite being constantly called “overrated”, strikeouts for pitchers are very consistent from year to year (as are walks) while hit rates fluctuate wildly and randomly – which gives a lot of hope to SABR types for a pitcher like Carlson to be more than a flash in the pan.
The caveat is that he’s rather unique. As Fangraphs points out, he works off a slider, throwing it 56% of the time. What they don’t mention is that was the highest percentage in the league for anyone who threw anywhere near that number of sliders. The hopeful news is that hitters hit sliders for the worst average of any pitch (.220ish), so if he can continue to throw them for strikes at the freakish rate he does now maybe he can keep it up. The bad is that there aren’t really any other pitchers ever who have managed to pull this off. New pitching technique, or just another Litsch – who makes it through a year on pure novelty and then has to learn how to pitch the way everyone else does?
So maybe we can look at his minor league numbers to identify some sort of trend in his development. Or maybe they’re all over the place from one year to the next and completely befuddling.