Nelson Figueroa Is Still Good

We know Ed Wade loves his former Phillies. The Astros rotation currently contains three former Phillies pitchers (J.A. Happ, Brett Myers, and Nelson Figueroa), with Figueroa being the latest to get a shot at starting down in Houston. While there have been a good amount of criticisms thrown Wade’s way over the past season, picking up journeyman right-hander Figueroa was a low cost move that will help the Astros win ballgames.

This past off season, I wrote an article entitled, simply enough, Why Nelson Figueroa is Good, hoping to draw some attention his way. The conclusion was also pretty straight forward:

What can we expect from Figueroa in 2010? Well, considering that four out of the Mets five current starting pitchers took a trip to the DL last year, we may get to see him start once again. Or, more likely, he’ll spot start here and there and split time between Triple-A and the bullpen. Hopefully, however, he gets a chance to pitch, because Nelson Figueroa is good.

The forecasters all predicted a FIP in the low to mid 4.00’s before the season, and Figueroa has beaten that this year, no doubt thanks to pitching mostly from the bullpen. The Mets put him on waivers during Spring Training (and have gone on to watch Fernando Nieve and Pat Misch start games in 2010, let alone Oliver Perez do it seven times) where he was quickly snagged up by the Phillies.

He pitched well in Philadelphia with a 3.46 ERA and 3.49 FIP (4.51 xFIP) in twenty-six innings. Considering the lack of serious depth in the Phillies bullpen, why he was put on waivers again is troubling (I guess Danys Baez’s near identical walk and strikeout numbers were just too appealing). The Astros claimed him on July 21st, where he continued to pitch out of the pen, again succeeding. He was moved into the Houston rotation last week, and thus far has pitched well. The coolest part is that he volunteered himself to become a starter when the Astros lost some pitchers to injuries. For the 2010 season, here are Figueroa’s total numbers:

IP: 48.1
ERA: 2.98
FIP: 3.37
xFIP: 3.79
tERA: 3.38
K/9: 7.26
BB/9: 2.42

For the rest of the season, ZiPS thinks he’s good for a 4.23 FIP, a solid improvement on his preseason projection from ZiPS (4.54). That’s not bad for a pitcher that seems to go on waivers more than he starts games. Fortunately for the Figueroa family, I think he’s found a home in Houston this time.





Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat

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NEPP
12 years ago

I’m so happy the Phillies kept the great Rule 5 pick David Herndon over a legit long reliever/spot starter like Figgy. Yeah, he’s a career AAAA guy but he could have really helped the Phillies out down the stretch in that role. A poor roster management decision by Amaro Jr to assume that Figgy would slip through waivers twice.

don
12 years ago
Reply to  NEPP

Herndon has a 93 mph sinker and a 55% ground ball rate this year. He’s also 24 instead of 36. He doesn’t strike anyone out, but if he develops any workable breaking pitch he’ll be a pretty decent pitcher.

Baez was and is a dumb signing.

pounded clown
12 years ago
Reply to  don

Juan “career WAR (-9.0)” Castro, GIDP specialist Wilson Valdez, destined for DFA Dobbs, 2 minor league catchers: Paul Hoover and the other Hawaiin guy on the Phillies whose name I don’t remember, more Brian Schiender than I would have liked to have seen, and for garnish Cody Ransom. When any combination of that appears on your team for good chunks of the season would you, with Happ DLed for most of the season that he was still on the team and Moyer finished depend on the likes of Kyle Kendrick to round out your rotation without a reliable long man you could fall back on? I like Herndon for the reasons you cited but letting him learn to pitch on a contending team that sustained this many injuries was dumb on Amaro’s part. RAJ was lucky that Kyle Kendrick was lucky enough to avoid imploding enough to hurt the team once Figgy was cut loose. Actually, Figgy should have replaced Kendrick as the 5th starter.

NEPP
12 years ago
Reply to  don

You could say that about a lot of guys in AA/AAA. Herndon is below average at best right now and even if he comes together, his upside is pretty limited. Its a dumb move for a contending team to basically play with a 24 man roster thanks to him.