The Giants have signed SP/RP Todd Wellemeyer to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. From the news released on SFGiants.com, it appears the team is tabbing Wellemeyer as a ‘long reliever’ but he could, theoretically, get a chance to win the 5th starter’s job this spring.
Wellemeyer’s career stats:
Additional career stats of the batted-ball variety: LD% 19.7, GB% 40, and FB% 40.3.
I was this close to adding Wellemeyer to our post on 5th starter options a couple of weeks ago. If he had been in the post he would have been of the scrap heap variety. Wellemeyer has spent most of his career as a reliever, posting an uninspiring career FIP of 5.07 in the bullpen. In 2008 the Cardinals turned Wellemeyer into a starter and got 191.2 innings of 115 ERA+ starting out of him — or a 4.51 FIP. All told, that season was worth 1.6 wins. Last season Wellemeyer struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness, posting a 70 ERA+ vs. a FIP of 5.31. Any way you slice it (FIP, xFIP, tERA, ERA+) it was a poor season. On the way home from work yesterday I caught a portion of Wellemeyer’s interview on the MLB channel on XM Radio. They asked him about his ’09 and Wellemeyer basically said that after throwing a career high in innings pitched in ’08, his arm wasn’t ready for ’09. He then stated that he’s worked harder this offseason and is in really good shape.
Ignoring that Wellemeyer is in the best shape of his career, his ’08 looks out of line with most of his career. After walking 5.6 hitters per 9 from 2003-07, Wellemeyer chopped his BB/9 rate down to 2.9 walks. That’s a huge step to take but it regressed back to the 4′s last year. I have trouble believing that Wellemeyer really is a 3-ish BB/9 pitcher. He also posted a .273 BABIP to go along with a 76.9% left on base percentage in ’08. Both scream fluke with a return to earth in the following season, which happened. CHONE projects Wellemeyer to throw a 5.14 FIP next season in the starter’s role. It seems like a reasonable projection. If he’s more of a reliever, you can place his FIP closer to 4.75-5 depending on how optimistic you are.
Still, I don’t mind him on team. I would much rather watch 100 IP of Wellemeyer (or Pucetas or Martinez) to start the year than Bumgarner. The Giants are still stating that Bumgarner is in the lead for the final rotation slot, but I’d rather they ease him along a little more. If he shows up to camp throwing 94 mph, I’ll be less worried, but his arsenal of pitches doesn’t seem MLB ready.