The Astros will be counting on Bud Norris to continue to improve as a pitcher in 2012. Norris has shown flashes of brilliance but has yet to find consistency. Could this be the season that Norris puts it all together?
David Stefan (Bud) Norris was a sixth round draft pick in 2006 and arrived in the big leagues in July of 2009. Although his win/loss record has suffered over the last two seasons a closer look at some of the SABRmetric peripherals suggest that Norris has indeed continued to develop. Norris has shown steady improvement in his WHIP, FIP, xFIP, and BAA.
The pitch f/x data also brings to light a couple of interesting tidbits about Bud and his fastball. His average velocity has declined each season and Norris throws a very low percentage of fastballs for a pitcher who strikes out almost one batter per inning. Norris has had a great deal of success with his slider and began to mix in more change-ups last season. I think the change-up is the key to Bud’s success. Norris needs that off-speed pitch to keep hitters off balance. Norris must learn to throw the change-up with confidence to take his game to the next level.
Norris enters his age 27 season as the Astros number 2 or 3 starter. He has plenty of ability but needs to learn to pitch smarter to continue in that role. Norris has a tendency to accumulate a high pitch count early in games. Top of the rotation pitchers are expected to go deeper into games and amass more innings pitched over the course of a season. I think Norris will have to prove himself this season to avoid being knocked down a peg or two. With youngsters like Jordan Lyles, Paul Clemens, and Jarred Cosart waiting in the wings this could be a very important year for Norris.
When he’s not pitching, Norris is an avid golfer. Bud also enjoys sharing through social media and you can follow him on twitter @BudNorris20.