Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Has Matt Albers Turned a Corner?

Orioles fans are wondering if Matt Albers, based on his last few outings, has finally turned himself into a decent relief pitcher.

I was strongly on the Albers bandwagon at the beginning of the season but have since jumped off. My analysis at this point is that while Albers has very good stuff, he can't throw it for strikes. When he takes a little off to improve his control, he's very hittable. That's not a winning combination.

But let's take a closer look at Albers' recent success:

                   IP    K   BB   HR    ERA   BABIP
Albers Apr-Jun    33.2  18   19    6   5.61   .277
Albers Jul-Sep    32.1  24   13    0   2.51   .261

OK, the peripherals in terms of strikeout to walk ratio are not great but otherwise, those are pretty good numbers for the second half of the season. There were some theories that Albers was overworked earlier in the season but that does not appear to be the case; he has actually worked more during his stretch of good pitching.

In April, May and June, Albers never had a FIP below 5.50. Since, his FIP hasn't risen above 3.10.

Yes, the 0% homerun rate is unsustainable but he's always been an extreme groundball pitcher and doesn't give up a lot of home runs anyway (which is why I liked him). His issue has always been the walks and the relatively low strikeout rate.

Can he keep throwing strikes? I am suspect at this point; every time I think he's starting to get it, he implodes. But if he can, he'll be a pretty good pitcher. As we have seen, he's been more than serviceable over the second half. If he keeps the walks down, he's an extreme groundball, decent strikeout pitcher. That's a valuable guy to have in the bullpen.

Now we'll see if he can keep it up for the rest of the season. I cautiously step aboard the bandwagon again...

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