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Fallen Aces: Oswalt, Sabathia

We're three starts in.  Roy Oswalt and C.C. Sabathia, typically 4th-7th round ace starters, have been brutalizing their teams' ratios (especially Friday night).  What's the deal?

The "Avoid Oswalt" bandwagon was already full in the preseason, but I thought he provided good value in the seventh round.  I had him at a 3.50 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, and thought he could at least come close to those numbers (3.75/1.30).  It's no mystery he's on the decline, but that doesn't make him worthless.  Early on the damage has been the result of home runs and hits, not walks or a lack of Ks.

The hits are tied to a through-the-roof .431 BABIP.  Last year no full-season starter was above .339.  Improvement on hits allowed is a given.  Regarding the homers - his groundball rate remains solid; his home runs per flyball is an absurd 41.5%.  10-11% would be normal.  Again, regression there is a given.  The only concern is that Oswalt's biceps bothered him a week ago.  His owners have to just hope he goes to the DL if an injury is inhibiting him. 

Sabathia logged 253.3 innings in '07, an increase of more than 60 from '06.  There's cause for concern that the workload will affect him this year, a Cy Young hangover.  His strikeout rate's been fine, but his increased walk rate is worrisome.  With a .457 BABIP and 16.7% HR per flyball, better days are ahead on hits and home runs.  I would start to worry if his elite control (BB/9 of 2.0 or less) continues to evade him.  He's also not getting grounders like he usually does.  Still, as with Oswalt, his owners pretty much just have to ride this out. 


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