Jul 7, 2010, 1:48 PM EDT
Chris Volstad went 8-4 with a 2.83 ERA through his first 20 starts after debuting as a 21-year-old in mid-2008, but he’s just 11-21 with a 5.36 ERA in 41 starts since then and today the Marlins demoted him back to Triple-A.
What’s interesting about Volstad’s fall from grace is that the underlying numbers within his performance really haven’t changed that much. His strikeout rate, walk rate, and ground-ball percentage have more or less remained constant each season and his yearly Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) figures are 4.59, 4.32, and 4.43.
The big differences have been more balls in play falling for hits, fewer runners being stranded on base, and teams running at will on him. Opponents going 20-for-21 stealing bases in just 98 innings this season is certainly on Volstad, but the other stuff is mostly some combination of luck, defense, and the life of a pitch-to-contact ground-ball starter.
His career xFIP is 4.43 and his career ERA is 4.42, so the secondary numbers tell a very accurate story as long as you’re willing to focus on the big picture. Volstad wasn’t as good as he looked right away and isn’t as bad as he’s looked recently, and as a 23-year-old starter with a 4.43 ERA in 338 career innings–including a decent enough 4.45 mark this season–you’d think the Marlins would have a little more patience.
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