Saturday, April 3, 2010

Will Ted Lilly have a breakout season in 2010?

Ted Lilly went 12-9 with an impressive 3.10 ERA in 2009.  He had knee surgery last July and shoulder surgery in the offseason, so his health could be an issue this year.  He's not scheduled to join the Cubs until a few weeks into the season

He is also 34 years old and still hasn't had a true breakout season.  One reason to be hopeful for 2010, though, is that he has solved his control problems over the last few eyars, while reducing the number of hits he allows and has maintained his solid strikeout totals. 

He took his pitching to a new level in 2009: He had a 1.056 WHIP in 2009 (walks + hits per innings pitched), which was 5th best of all pitchers with at least 175 IP, and his 4.19 SO/BB ratio was 8th best

He's had some good seasons in the past (and All-Star appearances in 2004 and 2009), including his 2008 season where he went 17-9 with a 4.09 ERA, but he's never received a Cy Young vote.  Based on his excellent numbers last year, he might finally be in a position to become an elite pitcher:

Ted Lilly (2009): 12-9, 3.10 ERA, 177 IP, 151 SO, 36 BB, 1.056 WHIP, 4.19 SO/BB, 7.7 SO/9, 1.8 BB/9

How good were these numbers?  A lot better than I thought.

12 Wins, 175 IP,  .550 W-L%, sub-3.11 ERA, sub-1.06 WHIP, 4.19 SO/BB, 7.6 SO/9, sub-1.90 BB/9 (Since 1900)
Sandy Koufax 1963
Bob Gibson 1968
Greg Maddux 1995
Pedro Martinez 1999, 2000, 2002
Kevin Brown 2000
Johan Santana 2005-06
Javier Vazquez 2009
Ted Lilly 2009

His age, recent surgeries and past inconsistency are major concerns, as is how effective the Cubs' offense and bullpen will be this year.  If he can return quickly and stay healthy, he could easily have his best season yet. 

The National League is stacked with great starting pitchers this year like Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Chris Carpenter, Dan Haren and Ubaldo Jimenez (not to mention Roy Oswalt, Jair Jurrjens, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Cain, Wandy Rodriguez and Ricky Nolasco, among others), so it could be very difficult to sneak in and get any Cy Young votes this year, but Lilly is in a good position to at least get into the discussion if he continues to pitch like he did in 2009.


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