Have we seen enough of Wesley Wright to know what to expect from his talents? The 26-year old lefthander has pitched 133 innings in the majors over the past three seasons. In that time he’s compiled a 5.33 ERA. I’m imagining the Christmas episode of The Office where Michael Scott, after the unveiling of the Party Planning Committee’s tree simply, but rudely, states “Not…great.” And it’s hard to find a silver lining as Wright’s FIP of 5.13 over that same span indicates his ERA is on the correct side of 5 in regards to his on-field performance. Does this mean he doesn’t deserve a spot in Houston’s bullpen? Not necessarily; Although his 1.55 WHIP and 1.85 K:BB ratio would disagree.
The answer to the question that begins this post is yes. We do know what to expect from Wesley Wright. Wright is a decent lefty who’s below average against right-handed batters. Compare his major league career opponent averages:
vs RHB: .264/.361/.512, 21 HRs, .279 BABiP
vs LHB: .258/.350/.384, 2 HRs, .359 BABiP
This is the difference between Pat Burrell and an absurdly lucky Cesar Izturis. The OBP is still high against lefties due to Wright’s 4.9 BB/9 but the BABiP makes his opponent’s average much higher than it should be. Wright has been unlucky when left-handed hitters get the bat on the ball which isn’t all that often; he strikes out a batter per inning.
Wright’s major league numbers are certainly no aberration as his career minor league ERA of 3.82, 5 BB/9, and 9.3 K/9 show. So, in a limited role facing only left-handed batters, Wright has a niche. The problem is management’s inability to realize this and use him accordingly. Compare his major league career batters faced:
vs RHB: 326 ABs
vs LHB: 190 ABs
2010 showed a new low in the use of the lefty as the Astros let Wright start 4 ballgames. In those 4 starts, his ERA was 6.63; a large reason why his ERA rose for the third straight season. Wright’s career seasonal ERAs are, in order, 5.01, 5.44, and 5.73. So now the question becomes, if we have a decent lefty who is completely ineffective against right-handed hitters, is that worth a spot on the 25 man roster? Simply, no, it’s not. Which raises a harder question to answer; why did the Astros non-tender Tim Byrdak? Byrdak had a 3.53 total ERA over the past three seasons and during that span also allowed lefties to hit a measly .202/.296/.380. The team is still under-budget and they’ve signed a number of guys less-likely to help so I don’t buy money as an excuse. Maybe it’s age but if decisions are being made solely on birth year, I now have the most convincing reason the Houston Astros need new management. Wesley, oh, Wesley.