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On Josh Fogg

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Not to give Josh Fogg a free pass for yesterday's fiasco, but a quick look around the Cactus League box scores will let you know that his line wasn't the only one the 20 mph winds destroyed. It's easy to jump on him, yesterday while the results came out I did myself, but the situation with him is complicated. David OhNo had a good point in the comments to yesterday's game:

This is Fogg in a nutshell

when you don't strike guys out much, or have a serious advantage in another skill (like getting tons of groundouts like Cook, or infield flies like Francis, or just prevent extra base runners by having a miniscule walk rate), you are prone to the random chance this game has to offer.  There will be games where Fogg will go seven and give up no runs, or days like today.  This leads to pitchers like Fogg being often misevaluated.  In the end, there's just too much uncertainty with a pitcher like this, and in most outings, you can be sure you'll receive something below mediocrity (see his career ERA numbers).

This is why I don't like having too many guys like this.  Pitchers that have a skill to better control their own destiny (high K or GB rates) stand a better chance to provide more consistency.  Despite Jimenez' likely walk totals, he strikes out enough batters to expect some range of performance.  It's why even extreme pitchers like Daniel Cabrera can still be a positive contributor to a pitching staff.  

Simply put, Fogg is something more than batting practice, but remains at the mercy of "the fates" of baseball.  A pitcher that leaves less to chance would be more desirable.

Myself, I see Fogg as pretty much a coin flip. In fifteen of his thirty-one starts last season he gave the Rockies' offense a pretty decent shot at winning the ballgame, while the other sixteen would require a bit more luck and skill on the parts of our hitters to overcome the deficit. The good side is that there were only eight "disaster starts" out of the thirty-one. These are games in which we wouldn't have much reason to believe a win at all possible and that percentage of total starts isn't bad for a fifth starter. Surprisingly the team went .500 in those starts for Josh last year, and some regression in that type of luck could certainly be counted on -driving up Fogg's loss numbers without a subsequent change in wins.

The upshoot is that I'm still okay with Fogg as the number five if we can't be certain that Lawrence or Jimenez would be better or if we had no other similar inconsistencies already in the rotation. My first problem is that I'm pretty certain at this point that either Lawrence or Jimenez would be an improvement in both consistency and quality. My second problem is that Jason Hirsh seems destined for an up and down inconsistent season as rookie going through growing pains. I'm not touching Rodrigo Lopez because frankly I just haven't seen enough of him to make a call. I can make the call here that Fogg better find a rhythm very quickly to start the season as Lawrence seems poised to take over shortly.

Other takes of yesterday's outing:
Drew at Up in the Rockies
Troy E. Renck at the Denver Post.