Once upon a time Edinson Volquez was considered one of the elite young pitchers in the league. In his first season in Cincinnati he was electric, going 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.33 WHIP with 206 Ks. Yes, control was always a question mark (4.27 BB/9 in ’09), but given his production it was something that was easy to overlook.
He started off slowly in 2009 before his season was ended abruptly due to Tommy John surgery. He returned late in 2010, making 12 starts and pitching to a 4.31 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. He once again showed electric stuff (9.62 K/9) making it easy to disregard his control issues (5.03 BB/9). Pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery generally struggle with their control, so why was there reason to worry?
Owners shrugged off his poor Spring Training (8.38 ERA, 8 K, 11 BB over 9.2 innings) as nothing more than normal spring issues. However, his abysmal start to the 2011 season has clearly wiped that out. Look no further than the first five batters he faced against the Milwaukee Brewers this afternoon:
- Rickie Weeks – Home Run
- Carlos Gomez – Home Run
- Ryan Braun – Walk
- Prince Fielder – Single
- Casey McGehee – Sacrifice Fly
It took him five batters and he had gotten one out and was in a 3-0 hole. His final line was 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 5 K (he allowed a third home run, to Ryan Braun, later in the game).
Now fantasy owners are left to wonder how to proceed. For those in weekly lineups there is no decision to be made. If you started him in week one you are still stuck with him in your lineup. He next takes the mound on April 6 against the Houston Astros and you have to cross your fingers and hope he figures it out.
However, if you are in a league that allows daily lineups, what do you do? Do you roll the dice and hope that he can correct the issues from now to then?
What actually makes us think that he can, however? It is not like he has shown anything yet in 2011, so why should we expect anything different now?
I certainly would have my reservations and, depending on my league format, would have second thoughts about throwing him out there. Yes, the strikeout potential is nice, but until he proves that he can actually be successful, he carries significant risk. Consider what we’ve seen of him of late, leaving him sitting on the bench until he proves worthy is certainly a prudent way to go.
What are your thoughts? Would you start Volquez in his next start? Why or why not?