clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ryan Sadowski: Fluke or Fixture?

New, 240 comments

The Giants are winning. It's easy to take the Copenhagen interpretation of the Giants' success: don't peek under the hood, don't try and figure out how they're doing it. They're doing it. Shut up, and enjoy it.

The same could be said about Ryan Sadowski. Keep your minor league numbers in their holsters, naysayers. The Dude has 13 scoreless major league innings. Isn't the point of the game to avoid giving up runs?

"(Ryan Sadowski) has kind of defied the law of averages - batted balls in play sometimes find holes, but they haven't in these two games."

Hah. Whatever, hater. Just because you're the one doing the pitching doesn't mean that you know, uh...wait, Sadowski said that? That makes me root for the guy even more. He knows that in a perfect world, he'd be a strikeout machine so he wouldn't have to leave anything to chance.

But the strikeout isn't everything. Jonathan Sanchez is one of the better strikeout pitchers in the league. Out of the rotation. It's possible for a pitcher to have sustained success without a strikeout pitch...

...if he's a lefty, a knuckleballer, an ace sinkerballer, or Russ Ortiz from the middle part of this decade. If you take Sadowski's minor league strikeout and walk numbers without any translation and plug them into Baseball Reference, you don't find a lot of repeat performers you'll find knuckleballers, guys who improved their strikeout numbers for future successful seasons, guys who improved their walk numbers for future successful seasons, and Russ Ortiz.

Maybe Sadowski will develop a strikeout pitch at the major league level. Hey, it can happen. Maybe Sadowski's strikeout rate won't be hurt as much as we think by the promotion. Really, the biggest problem I have with Sadowski's minor league numbers isn't the K-rate -- it's his control. He's been presented as a Ryan Jensen type who survives on hitting his spots, and teasing the hitters. It's a good story. But Sadowski's walk rate in the minors was worse than Jonathan Sanchez's walk rate in the minors.

Pause for dramatic effect.

With Randy Johnson's shoulder strain, there isn't going to be anything resembling a rotation controversy, and I'll pull for Sadowski to buck the odds. I'll pull for a whisper in the ear from Dave Righetti that gives Sadowski an extra inch of break on his sinker. I'll pull for the arm slot to repeat and the control to improve. I just won't expect it. And I'm almost sure the front office feels the same way. There is almost no chance that a pitcher with Sadowski's track record can succeed without making a marked improvement in some area. He can't just be the Sadowski from the minor leagues. He can't even be the Sadowski from the last two games. He's pitched well, but he's also pitched lucky. Even he knows that.

I just wish I were positively sure the front office feels the same way. I'll just enjoy the story while it lasts. But I won't expect it to continue.