As the Dodgers look towards the NLDS in a few weeks, there's little doubt about which pitcher will start Game 1: Randy Wolf.
When the Dodgers signed Wolf last offseason, they envisioned Wolf becoming a solid back-end of the rotation starting pitcher, who could throw some quality innings and take some of the pressure off the Dodgers' young pitchers.
But as we've seen this season, Wolf has been much more than that for the Dodgers.
How will Wolf's stellar 2009 campaign help him on the free agent market?
Let's have a look:
The Case for Randy Wolf
I knew that Randy Wolf was having a very good 2009 season, but I had no idea just how good he was pitching this season until I looked at the numbers.
Check it out:
6th in WHIP: 1.084
14th in ERA: 3.22
1st in BABIP: .256
2nd in quality starts: 24
7th in quality start %: 73%
11 wins (but Wolf should have closer to 17-18 if he could get some run support!)
The Case against Randy Wolf
National League West
If you look at Wolf's splits from this season, you'll see a specific trend: Wolf dominates the NL West.
Just look at his ERA this season against NL West foes:
Those numbers make me believe, that Wolf needs to stay in the weak NL West if he wants to maintain this level of success. I question how he'd perform in a stronger division facing better offensive teams 10+ times each season.
Is Randy Wolf this good?
Just throwing it out there.
Randy Wolf has not had a season with a sub four ERA since 2002. Does that mean anything? Maybe not. Wolf had a very good half season with the Astros and followed up on that success this season with the Dodgers.
But given his history, the odds are that Randy Wolf is a lot closer to the pitcher with a four-plus ERA, than the pitcher with a sub-four ERA.
Wolf's age makes him less appealing than Joel Pineiro, but with his consistency and stellar 2009 campaign, you have to put him ahead of guys like Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, and Doug Davis.
Elias Ranking: Type A
There is no doubt in my mind that the Dodgers will offer Wolf arbitration because of his solid 2009 performance and his relatively low 2009 salary ($5 million). I'm sure the Dodgers would be happy to have Wolf back for around $8-$10 million next season- and if he doesn't return- then the Dodgers will get two draft picks as compensation.
Food for thought: Will teams shy away from Wolf if the Dodgers offer him arbitration?
Prediction: 3 years/$31.5 million.
According to fan-graphs, Wolf has been worth $14 million this season. Now there's no way Wolf is going to get that on the open market, but can Wolf get $10 million per year on the open market?
If the scenarios play out properly, then, I could see it happening.