Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Chris Volstad 2011

Richard asks:
How about a write-up on Chris Volstad, please? Is it time to cut bait? He's a real tease.
Chris Volstad is an underwhelming Major League pitcher who is on the periphery of being Major League worthy. Entering tonight, has a 4.63 ERA in 478 2/3 innings pitched. While his xFIP is better than that at a 4.31, it's not that much better, so while you can argue that Volstad has been unlucky, don't pound your chest about it.

Once upon a time, Volstad was a B+ prospect for John Sickels. However, this was way back in 2006 and Volstad was in the New York Penn league. The closer he came to the Majors, the more that Volstad's prospect luster started to wear off. Volstad's fastball in high school clocked as high as 94 MPH, but he would hit as low as 86-88 MPH in the minors. Volstad was initially seen as projectable, but now it seems like he's found his level.

Volstad's big strength as a prospect was his ground ball rate. In his rookie season, Volstad had a G/F rate of 1.86. He has not put up a rate near this since, and this is some of the reason that Volstad hasn't improved in the Majors.

From where I'm sitting though, I don't see how much better Volstad is going to get. His strikeout rate has increased and his walk rate has decreased incrementally, but it's not enough to suggest that Volstad is turning a corner. His HR/9 has spiked this year. As a result, the xFIP (3.66) is a full two runs under the ERA (5.67). He should be pitching better, yes. But I don't see a 3.66 coming from Volstad. A 4.20 is far more likely.

Should you wait for that 4.20? It depends on your team. If your staff is awesome otherwise, you can probably take your lumps with Volstad while you wait for the law of averages. If your staff stinks, you might as well wait. Otherwise, maybe it's time to spot start Volstad or cut him entirely.

Keep in mind, though, that a K rate greater than six per nine in 5x5 is nothing to sneeze at. One hundred and thirty-six strikeouts in 200 IP was worth about $7 in N.L.-only 5x5 last year. Volstad is hard to own, but because of the whiffs he shouldn't be impossible to own.

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