Game 103, A’s at Mariners
Washburn vs DiNardo, 1:05 pm.
Lenny DiNardo is the poster boy for evaluating pitchers based on repeatable skills and not performance. I should put his picture in the Evaluating Pitcher Talent article. The Mets took him in the 3rd round of the 2001 draft, but despite some decent performances in the minors, they weren’t terribly impressed with what they saw and left him available for the Rule 5 draft after the 2003 season. The Red Sox saw an extreme groundball pitcher who also had shown an ability to miss bats, and though he had some command problems, finding those two skills in a young left-hander made him a no brainer to pick off for just $50,000. They used him sparingly in 2004, but pitched well enough when he was used. 2005 was a lost year due to injuries, and he was terrible last year, lacking command and giving up a ton of home runs. When Boston decided they didn’t have any more need of him and placed him waivers, the A’s saw the same thing the Red Sox had seen a few years earlier – a cheap young left-handed pitcher with extreme groundball tendancies and the ability to miss bats occassionally, so they snagged him for nothing in February when he became available.
DiNardo has pitched in 22 games, including making 10 starts, and has the lowest ERA of any pitcher with at least 75 innings pitched in the American League. Now, he’s obviously not this good – the difference between his ERA and his xFIP is over 2.00 runs, a huge margin – and regression to the mean is going to get to him sooner or later. But because of his extreme sink on his fastball, he doesn’t give up home runs, and his command has reached the point where it’s good enough for him to succeed in the rotation.
DiNardo’s a better pitcher than Jarrod Washburn. The A’s got him for $25,000 because they were willing to claim a guy who ran a 7.85 ERA last year off waivers, ignoring the results and looking at the skills. The M’s are paying Jarrod Washburn $37.5 million over 4 years because they evaluated a pitcher by his results and not his skills.
This matchup couldn’t show the point any clearer. That said, I hope DiNardo gets bombed and Washburn throws a complete game shutout, and considering the opposing offenses, that’s completely possible.