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Friday, June 3, 2011

Scouting Derek Lowe again

Derek Lowe
38 years old (birthday was June 1)
15th major league season
6'6" 230 pounds
Bats R/Throws R

When I saw the Mets were facing Lowe to open the series, I thought the scouting report would be easy, as it seems like we've seen him 5 times each for the past 2 years. Then I heard he was 5-0 in September last year, and began to wonder, "was it just a small sample size and he got lucky, or did he change how he pitched?" He ended the year with a 4.00 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, a nice improvement from 2009 when he was 4.67 ERA and 1.52 WHIP. He still had the 2nd highest ground ball % (behind teammate Tim Hudson), but the reason for the change was he went back to throwing his slider and it was a true swing and miss/out pitch. He saw his K/9 rate jump to 6.32 from 5.1 in 2009.

The 37-year old RHP was a highly sought-after free agent after the 2008 season, and wound up getting a four-year, $60 million contract. The Mets hesitated on giving an aging veteran such as Lowe a four-year contract, and decided on Oliver Perez for 3 years was a better choice. Although he went 15-10 in 34 starts 2009, he gave up 232 hits in 194 innings and had a .301 batting average against. He had a 4.67 ERA and 1.52 WHIP, while also seeing his GB rate decrease to 66% (75% in 2007).

The 6’6” Lowe throws from a ¾ to low ¾ arm slot, and features a sinking 87-88 mph and a late-breaking slider (80 mph), which has been the key to his success recently. He throws his fastball 66% of the time, his slider 16% of the time (26% in his 2011 starts), and he has increased the use of his change-up (84 mph) this year to 16% (previously was only a 'show-me pitch'). He rarely throws inside/backs hitters off the plate.

In 2011, he's 3-4 in 12 starts (only 67 innings), with a 4.03 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.  As noted above, he's throwing his slider more often, and his K/9 rate is up over 7.8, which would be the second highest in his 15 year career. He has seen an uptick in his BB/9 rate to 3.6 (2.8 last year), and it's because he's throwing a career low 33% of his pitches in the strike zone, and first pitch strike only 52% of the time, also a career low. He's walked 5 hitters in back to back games his last two outings.

For his career against the Mets, he has started 10 times in the past 2 years, and 12 starts in his career (17 games) is 5-5 with a 5.75 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP. He started five of those games in 2009 with the Braves, and had a 6.94 ERA and 1.67 WHIP, with 10 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings. He rebounded in 2010 versus the Mets, as he had a 2.96 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in his 4 starts (1-2 record). When he faced the Mets on April 16, he got the win, going 6 innings, 2 runs on 5 hits, 2 walks, and 4 k's.

He's a league average pitcher on the back-end of his career; he is useful to the Braves (and would be for the Mets) but they wish he was making 6-8 million versus 15 million.

Taken From on Top of the Green Monster, May 29, 2006

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