Can Kyle McClellan Continue to Shine?

May 23, 2011


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Kyle McClellan enters the week tied for the league lead with six wins. He’s 6-1 with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. He has allowed two or fewer runs in six of his nine starts. Even in his three poor outings he was able to go at least five innings and limit the damage to four or five runs. That’s important because he doesn’t completely tax the Cardinals’ bullpen and still gives them a chance to win. For your fantasy team, it’s not the outcome you were looking for, but it sure beats taking the lumps over three or four innings.
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One of the bumps can be excused. He gave up four runs in six innings in Cincinnati. That was his lone start that week so he should have been on your bench in both daily and weekly leagues. If you used him there, you were asking for trouble.
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We know what he’s already done. We need to know if he will continue to shine. Obviously nobody knows the answer to that, but we can take a look at the numbers to see what we can infer.
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McClellan was 4-0 with a 3.23 ERA in five April starts. He is 2-1 with a 3.67 ERA in four April starts. The consistency has been there. He has averaged 91.4 pitches per start, with six in the 90-95 range, which adds to his consistency. You basically get two runs in six innings when he takes the mound.
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McClellan’s success isn’t predicated on luck. He has a .265 BABIP, which is actually higher than the .231 he posted last year and .264 from 2009. Solid numbers for a player with a 51.6 ground ball percentage.
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McClellan keeps the ball in the park, having allowed fewer than a home run (0.94) per nine innings. He had one three home run game, which was the game that he should have been on your bench when he started in Cincinnati. In his remaining eight starts he’s allowed one home run in three games. The other five he did not give up the long ball.
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He only issues 2.8 walks per nine innings. If he’s not giving out free passes or allowing home runs he can keep the damage to a minimum.
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McClellan is not without his warts though. He strikes out just 4.37 batters per nine innings. He has three or fewer Ks in six of his nine starts, plus another one with just four strikeouts. His season high is seven, and that came back on April 5th.
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That doesn’t mean he can’t continue to be successful. It’s just something to keep in mind when he has a tough match-up. If you can salvage a poor outing with a solid strikeout total, at least you have something to take away from it. Just be smart and use him when he has favorable match-ups, like this week when he faces the Padres in San Diego.
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