Bust Alert: Why Alexi Ogando Offers Too Much Risk In 2013

We all remember Alexi Ogando fondly from his breakout 2011, don’t we? While he did make two appearances out of the bullpen, the Rangers turned him loose for 29 starts(despite only working 72.1 innings the year before). The results were fantastic, as he posted a 3.56 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.68 K/9 and 2.32 BB/9.

Of course, the Rangers did what everyone would’ve done last season and moved him back to the bullpen (he made one start). He thrived in that role as well, showing significantly better strikeout stuff, with an overall 9.00 K/9.

The problem is that he is once again pegged to move back into the Rangers rotation for 2013, and you have to start to wonder if his arm is going to be able to handle the increased workload. Injury risk aside, we shouldn’t be looking at 2011 and 2012 and assuming he is going to thrive in 2013.

For one, he hasn’t shown the same strikeout potential as a starting pitcher. While he did average 95.1 mph on his fastball in 2011, he was at 97.0 mph in 2012. Obviously, you need to pace yourself if you want to pitch deep into games. Does he have the stuff to rack up the Ks as a starter? Absolutely, but he needs to prove he can do it.

Second of all, we cannot just ignore the luck Ogando actually had in 2011. Despite allowing a line drive rate of 23.8%, his BABIP was just .265. Considering his line drive rate was 21.0% last year, let’s not call it an aberration. We have to expect a regression…

He also was prone to the long ball last season, allowing 1.23 HR/9. With a 40.1% career fly ball rate and pitching in Texas, is it really a surprise? In 2011 he actually allowed 11 HR at home, but just 5 on the road (5.3% HR/FB). It is impossible to think that’s going to continue.

So, what’s the bottom line here?  Ogando is a pitcher with a lot of talent, but we have to be at least a little bit concerned about him being shifted back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen (Joba Chamberlain v2.0, perhaps). Throw in the significant concerns about hs performance and there is just too much risk involved. If you can get him late then sure, but there are “safer” options with similar upside that will be available to you.

What are your thoughts of Ogando?  Do you think he can thrive in 2013?  Why or why not?

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