The answer, like it has been all year, is pitching. Jesse Litsch pitched another fucking gem. Litsch’s story is as follows; He is a pitcher in his early 20’s who came out of nowhere, was promoted from AA and has become a pleasant surprise in the rotation this year. In fact, he has been so impressive that gingerfuckwad Jamie Campbell and (“the if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all”) Rance Mulliniks were calling him a main stay in the Jays rotation for years to come. Fucking hell! Remember Gus Chacin? He followed a similar career path as Litsch. He was praised the same way by many of you idiot fans. Now Gus never fooled me, and unfortunately his recent injury will never allow us to know how bad (or good as Dr. K might suggest) he really is. But trust me, he’s shit. Winning games is not a skill. There is no such thing as a winner, there is just lucky (Jack Morris) and unlucky(Dave Steib).
Anyway, to get an idea what to expect from Litsch in the future let’s compare him to Gus’s first (and only) full season.
They look scarily similar. Despite Litsch being superior in one category, which is the huge edge in GB%, their HR’s look pretty even when averaged out over a full season. Chacin’s weak K/9 is vastly superior to Litsch’s. I would have expected for Litsch to have a better BB/9 but is almost equal. K/BB goes to Chacin by a good margin. You also have to be wary of the 9 unearned runs Litsch has allowed. It is very similar to the 05 Josh Towers year when he allowed 24 unearned runs and scratched more than .5 of a run of his ERA. Remember, not all unearned runs are created equal.
BAbip looks close but there is a bigger discrepancy than it appears. This years league average BAbip is .302, so Litsch is .09 under. (Read marginally fortunate). In 2005 the league average was .293 so Chacin was actually .06 over. (Marginally unfortunate). Overall, I would have to give the edge in “numbers” to Chacin.
So, what happened to Chacin the following year?
Well in Chacin’s 2006 year his stats were almost the same except his high fly ball ratio caught up to him and he allowed 19 HR’s in 17 GS, rising his ERA from a very good 3.72 in 05 to a more reasonable 5.05 in 06. This is the one things that people who were not fooled by Chacin (myself, Canate, BP) were pointing out. Others (Dr. K, JP Ricciardi, maybe John Brattain- it wouldn’t surprise me) chose to ignore it.
So what’s in store for Litsch next year? Unlike Chacin, his high ground ball ratio should ensure there is no dramatic spike in HR’s. He should manage to stick around but his other indicating stats are pretty horrible, making the best-case scenario Litsch becoming a serviceable fifth starter. I think if he could pitch 170+ innings with an ERA between 4.50-.5.00 the Jays would have to be happy with that.
Otherwise it may be smart to “sell high” on him and see if you can get a SS with Litsch as a part of the package.
To finish, I don’t want to be a Dick (Griffin) so I will give you the other side of the coin. Unlike Chacin, who was pegged as the number three starter coming into this season,the Jays are not going to be depending on Litsch to be more than a fifth starter next season. So even if he does stink it up they are not hurting as much as they otherwise would have been (without the emergence of Marcum and McGowan). A Rotation of Halladay, Burnett, McGowan, Marcum and Litsch/other is still very solid.