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Friday, July 16, 2010

Scouting Report, LHP Barry Zito

Barry Zito had 3 16 strike out games in his last year at USC and was a 1st round pick (9th overall) of the Oakland A's in 1999, and made his debut in July of 2000. He was a Cy Young winner and an All-star (1st of 3) in 2002. He finished his career in Oakland after 7 seasons, 102-63, with a 3.55 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. Those stats landed him a 7 year contract after the 2006 season, and thankfully Omar didn't want to break the 100 million mark, or his contract would be even worse than Ollie P's. For the Giants he is 38-47, with a 4.42 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. Last year he did start to show signs of life, raising his K/9 to a respectable 7.2 (from 6.0), and cut his W/9 from 5.1 to 3.8. These two factors alone contributed to dropping his ERA to 4.03, and he went from a #5/6 starter to a #3. Career against the Mets he's 2-2 in five starts, with a 4.28 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. Both of the losses have come after the 2007 season; he's made three starts in that time period, and is 0-2 with a 14 1/3 innings pitched, 10 earned runs, and 29 base-runners.

Zito has a herky-jerky delivery and throws straight over the top. The pitcher that used to touch 90 is no more, as his fastball now is 84-87 (average 85 mph). He had a lot of success with a slider last year (79 mph), but it hasn't been effective this year. He is known for his big looping curveball (72 mph), but hitters have been more selective and making him throw it for strikes. He also throws an effective change-up (74 mph). His fastball is a plus pitch for him this year for the first time since 2004. He is getting hitters to swing at balls out of the strike zone at the highest rate of his career (31%), but still is below league average in terms of swing and miss % (7.2%). He relies on his curve with 2 strikes (throws it > 40% of the time).

Zito started the year 6-2, and entering the month of June he had a 2.94 ERA. Since then, he's had three games of 5+ earned runs, and he is currently 7-4 with a 3.76 ERA, and 1.31 WHIP. What's changed since the calender turned to June? Zito is an extreme fly-ball pitcher, and was getting very lucky with the lack of fly-balls leaving the yard (1 home run in his 1st 61 innings, 7 home runs in the last 54 innings). His home run/fly ball rate is still ridiculous low at 5.3%, (career average is 8.4%), so his ERA may end up even higher at the end of the year (his xFIP, which normalizes HR/fly ball rate, is 4.79). In his last start he didn't make it out of the 5th inning, going 4 2/3, 2 runs, 7 hits, 6 walks and 7 k's.

Yes, he's still getting paid like an ace (18.5 million this year), and he's at best a #3 starter for the remainder of his contract, but at least he's pitching in the big leagues (unlike the Mets bad contract)...

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