A Closer Look at Matt Palmer

Eric StashinSenior Writer IJune 23, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 17:  Matt Palmer #32 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on June 17, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Since making his season debut on April 23, Matt Palmer has been a solid pitcher, though not necessarily overly impressive.  He had managed to keep his record unblemished, going 6-0 over nine starts (10 appearances), before taking a bit of a beating last night, taking his first loss.  His other peripherals prior to last night’s start were:

56.2 Innings
4.13 ERA
1.27 WHIP
35 Strikeouts (5.56 K/9)
22 Walks (3.49 BB/9)
.261 BABIP

Now 30 years old, the former 2002 31st-round draft pick made his major league debut with the Giants last season.  His long wait did not lead to rave reviews, making three starts and getting lit up to the tune of a 8.53 ERA and 2.37 WHIP.

Those are hardly numbers that scream “worth considering,” but Palmer’s persistence has helped him land on the fantasy map for owners in deeper formats.  Neither did his first two starts at Triple-A this season, where he posted a 11.74 ERA over 7.2 innings, but due to injuries and tragedy the Angels were forced to give him a chance.

Over the course of his minor league career, he appeared in 206 games (93 starts), going 41-36 with a 3.60 ERA and 1.32 WHIP.  I know it is the Pacific Coast League, but he was far from impressive during his parts of four seasons at the level:

  • 2006 - 15 games (15 starts), 91.0 IP, 6-4, 4.05 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 64 K
  • 2007 - 29 games (25 starts), 150.0 IP, 11-8, 4.32 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 98 K
  • 2008 - 26 games (25 starts), 142.0 IP, 6-10, 4.18 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 143 K
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The number that jumps out is the number of K's he posted in 2008, a K/9 of 9.1.  Over the course of his minor league career it was just 7.6, and he hadn’t shown that type of potential since pitching in Double-A back in 2004. 

That’s a long time in between that type of success and I find it hard to believe that he’s ever going to come close to that type of strikeout rate in the major leagues.  He hasn’t shown it to date this season, that’s for sure. 

While he may improve slightly over what he’s shown thus far, that would only make him fairly useful in the category, as opposed to a solid asset.

His WHIP was nice thus far, but it has come courtesy of an abnormally low BABIP.  He has been struggling in June, and further decline could come along with it.  He was sporting a rotund 1.74 WHIP over his first two starts heading into yesterday.

After giving up seven hits and five walks over 4.2 innings, his BABIP went up to .273 and his WHIP to 1.37.  The scary thing is that it likely will continue to regress like this.

The ERA already was not the most impressive number, though it was usable.  Of course, it jumped to 4.70 after last night’s debacle.  He’s done a good job of keeping the ball in the ballpark (1.03 HR/9).

The problem is, if there are going to be more base runners, there’s going to be more likelihood of runs scored as well.  Considering he’s in the AL, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the ERA rise to 4.50 or more, even with pitching in the AL West.

So, we have a pitcher with wins potential, but exactly what else?

I know Palmer’s numbers had looked good thus far, but he really has never proven to be a pitcher with the type of potential to be a usable fantasy option.  Are we really to believe that, at 30 years old, he finally has put things together and will be able to sustain solid production all year round?

I would avoid him in all formats at this point.  There’s just too much risk involved and it is too likely that the big regression he’s shown is going to continue.

What does everyone else think?  Is Palmer a pitcher you are high on?  Is he someone you own?


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