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Is Daniel Cabrera For Real?

It's easy to write off Daniel Cabrera as a fluke, because he's burned us so many times in the past.  How many years has this guy been a breakout candidate?  Has he finally arrived?  To the numbers...

67.1 innings (3rd in AL)
10 starts (T-3rd in AL)
6.73 IP/start (8th in AL)
3.48 ERA (18th in AL)
3.44 component ERA (18th in AL)
1.17 WHIP (11th in AL)
5 wins
4.6 expected wins
5.48 K/9 (28th in AL)
3.21 BB/9 (29th in AL)
1.71 K/BB (31st in AL)
7.35 H/9 (6th in AL)
.234 BABIP (3rd in AL) vs. .270 team BABIP (best in MLB; .286 was best in '07, .282 in '06)
1.20 HR/9 (36th in AL)
15.0% HR/flyball (44th in AL)
57.5% groundball rate (3rd in AL)

Cabrera has been successful so far for two reasons: groundballs and a low rate of hits allowed.  He has typically been a groundball pitcher, though never to this extent.  The low H/9 and BABIP cannot last; furthermore, the Orioles defense is highly unlikely to maintain their team BABIP.  Cabrera, Jeremy Guthrie, and much of the bullpen have benefitted from this.  It won't last.

Cabrera has changed his profile from a high strikeout/walk pitcher to that of a low strikeout groundball pitcher.  He really improved his command in May, posting a 6.66 K/BB in four starts.  The new Cabrera is better than the old, no doubt.  He's going deep into games now.  Also to his credit, his HR rate is due to decrease.

Cabrera remains a sell-high candidate, because his ERA and WHIP will get worse as more hits drop in.  I wouldn't say he's "arrived," but he's transformed himself into a useful back-end fantasy pitcher.


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