On Sunday, the New York Yankees’ savior for the 2007 season wasn’t sitting in the Yankees dugout. Oh, no, he was way above the field, holding a microphone. I don’t mean Joe Girardi, the YES broadcaster, who will swoop in once current manager Joe Torre is either fired or calls it quits and actually manage a bullpen intelligently. I mean Roger Clemens. In case you have been living under a rock the past few days, Clemens is returning to the Bronx. We know that he’ll bring quite a bit to their beleaguered rotation, but what kind of impact can he give your fantasy rotation? Let’s make some wild and hopefully accurate guesses.
Clemens has said that his timetable for return is about three to four weeks. That makes it pretty simple in projecting how many starts he should get at the major league level: somewhere around 25. In those starts, we can count the Rocket to throw an average of six innings each outing, meaning that’s 150 innings for the 2007 season.
Now, let’s get to one of the most important categories: strikeouts. Clemens has always been regarded as a strikeout guy, a power pitcher who can just beat hitters. He’ll dial up his fastball into the middle 90s and that splitter should keep splitting. I’ll give him one less strikeout per inning from last season’s rates, which puts him at seven per nine innings pitched. That comes out to about 115 whiffs, which is a few more than what he did last season with the Houston Astros (102).
Here comes the tricky part: What should we expect Clemens’ ERA and WHIP to be? Since he’ll be contributing quite a bit of innings to your pitching staff, it’s important that he be all right in these categories.
For the last three seasons, the right hander has had ERAs of 2.98, 1.87, and 2.30. The average ERA in those three seasons is around 2.40. That’s very remarkable. Let’s say the move to the AL East, coupled with the addition of one more year of age, adds 1.00 to his ERA, which a little on the pessimistic side. That’s still in the 3.40 range, something very good. As for WHIP, that will probably get bumped up a little, perhaps close to 1.15, still a decent number for fantasy owners.
The only thing left are wins. Given 25 starts, and that’s slightly on the conservative side, we can fully expect 12 wins. He’s such a great pitcher, but the bullpen will probably blow a few leads after having to come in early after Rocket’s premature launches (exits).
All in all, these are some very good statistics to add to your fantasy squad. Once he reaches the major league level, consider yourself the owner of another Jeremy Bonderman. The Tigers’ ace will strike out a few more hitters, but has a slightly higher WHIP. I think they are fairly similar in fantasy value, once Clemens makes his debut.
What do I project his line to be at the end of the year? Twelve wins, 3.46 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 115 strikeouts, and one save. I don’t mean save as in the fantasy baseball category, but rather a save of the Yankees’ season. He might also help out your ballclub.
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