Another player from whom I don’t know what to expect, though for different reasons than some. There aren’t many pitchers like him — submariners/sidearmers who throw really hard — and he’d already had arm trouble. So I have no way of knowing how he’ll come back from Tommy John surgery, though it’s surprising that the Braves seem to think he’ll be ready to start the season.
Moylan was pretty sensational in 2007, though his 1.80 ERA overstates his effectiveness; a third of the runs scored off him were judged “unearned”. His strikeout rate was pretty low, but he was hard to get good contact on, resulting in lots of weak ground balls and a high double play rate. He started out 2008 the same way, but was quickly shut down and then it turned out he needed surgery. It was just the beginning of the injury cascade in the pitching staff that would wipe out the season.
A lot of the blame for Moylan’s injury in 2008 was put on Bobby for overusing him in 2007. Ninety innings in eighty appearances (plus one two-inning appearance in the minors) really isn’t that much, but there were a lot of times when he didn’t get much rest, particularly late in the season. I count six times from July 26 on when he was used three days in a row, and one where he was used four days. That sort of thing can lead to injury. Of course, Bobby has always used up his sidearmers, and except for pseudo-sidearmer Greg McMichael, none of them has lasted too long. Bobby’s formative experiences managing against sidearmers were mostly facing guys like Tekulve and Quisenberry, who could throw 120 innings a year with seemingly no ill effect — Tekulve was second on the appearances list to Wilhelm when he retired, and still holds the record for most career innings pitched without a start — but most sidearmers aren’t that indestructable.
My guess is that Moylan, like most TJ cases, will have control difficulties. If that’s the case, it could lead to more walks, but the worst-case scenario is that it makes him homer-prone. If there was one crack in his armor in 2007, it was that he sometimes elevated the ball against righthanded hitters, and they teed off on him. Even though (thanks in part to pinch-hitters) he’s faced nearly as many lefthanders as righthanders in his career, seven of the eight homers he’s allowed — including all six in 2007 — have come from righthanded hitters.