Dec 14, 2009, 8:21 PM EST
Citing family health problems, Colby Lewis has decided to leave Japan and return to MLB for the 2010 season.
Lewis was viewed as one of the game’s best pitching prospects for a time at the beginning of the decade, but he was a complete bust for the Rangers. He had a 6.29 ERA in 34 1/3 innings in 2002 and a 7.30 ERA in 26 starts in his first and only full season in 2003. Shoulder surgery followed in May 2004, and he didn’t pitch in the majors against until Aug. 2006. He threw three innings for the Tigers then and 37 2/3 innings for the A’s in 2007, racking up a 6.45 ERA during the latter stint.
While MLB success was still beyond him, Lewis did show pretty good stuff during his time with the A’s and he caught the eyes of the Hiroshima Carp. He turned out to be a smashing success in Japan, going 15-8 with a 2.68 ERA and a 183/27 K/BB ratio in 178 innings. Last season, he finished 11-9 with a 2.96 ERA and a 186/19 K/BB in 176 1/3 IP. In both cases, he led the Central League in strikeouts.
The 30-year-old Lewis throws 89-92 mph these days. His curveball is a strikeout pitch. The changeup might not be there to make him a middle-of-the-rotation guy in the majors, but he’d definitely be worth a shot in the $1 million-$2 million range. That’s especially the case since he has less than four years of service time. Unless he has special language written into his contract, the team that signs him would be able to control him through 2012.
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