Thinking about Colby Lewis

So, we now know that Colby Lewis has a two year deal with a pretty reasonable team option for 2012, and barring injury, will be in the team's rotation at the beginning of the 2010 season.

Evan Grant writes that while in Japan, Lewis added a cutter, which, according to Jon Daniels, made Lewis a "premium strike-thrower."  Grant says that Lewis is now in the 90-93 mph range on his fastball, as well.

One of the things that is worth noting in Lewis's history is his workload the past several years.  He missed all of 2005 due to shoulder surgery, and I think most of us wrote him off at that point.  However, he pitched 150 innings between the majors and minors in 2006, and a little over 130 innings while pitching in the rotation in Sacramento and (mostly) out of the pen in Oakland in 2007.  In Japan the past two years, he's logged 176 innings in 26 starts in 2008, and 178 innings in 29 starts in 2009. 

I suspect that the Rangers look at him and see a guy who is fully recovered from shoulder surgery, and has shown the past four years that he is physically capable of handling a starter's workload.  Whether or not he's capable of pitching at an acceptable level in the majors remains to be seen, but he appears to be someone who can eat innings for the team.

And thinking about it, all in all, I have to think that Lewis was brought here to replace Kevin Millwood -- not in terms of being the team's #1 or the leader of the pitching staff, but to replace the 30 starts and 180 innings you would have counted on Millwood giving you.

I lamented the departure of Millwood, not because I thought Millwood was anything special as a pitcher (despite his ERA in 2009, Millwood is an average starter at best), but because I felt the team was better with Millwood in the rotation and everyone else bumped down one rung, giving the team more depth.

Looking at Lewis, in terms of his profile and what he's done the past few years, I think that it isn't unreasonable to believe that his 2010 season will be comparable to Millwood's 2010 season.  170-180 innings with a FIP around 5.00 is probably all you'd expect from Millwood in 2010, and I think that is a reasonable expectation for what Lewis can offer in 2010, as well.

Lewis probably isn't going to repeat his freaky K rate or K/BB ratio that he put up in the Japanese League...think instead something in the Millwood or Scott Feldman ballpark, 5-6 K/9 and a 2:1 K/BB ratio, instead.  But with the defense the Rangers will be running out there, that should be good enough for an ERA in the mid- to high-4 range, and if you can get 170-180 innings of that, then you've got a bargain, given the contract Lewis is getting.

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