Is that a compliment to Wright, a fresh-faced rookie out of double-A? An insult to Igawa, a seasoned Japanese veteran whose line above actually represents a significant improvement over his MLB debut a week earlier? A little of each? Curiously Igawa and Wright are both lefties whose best pitch is a changeup. Does that mean the Indians will benefit from seeing similar pitchers two nights in a row or that Igawa should have similar success against the Cleveland lineup because of his similar stuff, with hope for improvement because his Opening Day jitters are now two starts behind him?
So many questions.
Then there's Cleveland starter Jeremy Sowers, a 23-year-old lefty in his first full season in the majors. Taken out of Vanderbilt with the sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft, Sowers shot all the way to triple-A in his first professional season in 2005 and joined the major league rotation in late June of last year, finishing the season with a 7-4 record and a 3.57 ERA in 14 starts, two of which were shutouts. In Sowers' second major league outing, he faced the Yankees at Jacobs Field and held them to two runs over seven innings, those two runs coming on a first-inning Jason Giambi homer. Sowers is a finesse pitcher who fits the description of "crafty lefty" to a T and conjures up comparisons to Jamie Moyer and Tom Glavine, but his rate stats are troubling. In sixteen major league starts between last year and this, Sowers has struck out just 3.46 men per nine innings (Moyer and Glavine's career K/9 rates are both about 5.35). Seeing as he lacks the extreme groundball tendencies with which Chien-Ming Wang has survived a similarly miniscule strikeout rate, it would seem Sowers is going to have to figure out a way to miss more bats in order to keep winning. Indeed, his .257 opponents' batting average on balls in play last year is bound to snap back to league average (around .300), taking his ERA with it. Still, he's excelled in his two starts thus far this year, holding the White Sox to just one hit (but two runs on five walks) over six innings in his first start and the Angels to one run over seven innings in his last. Just because a correction seems inevitable doesn't mean it will happen tonight.