Now Paging Colby Lewis

A few years ago, Colby Lewis was on his way out of baseball. A former 20-year old first round pick, Lewis had a career 6.90 ERA and 1.87 WHIP by the time he left the MLB to play in Japan in 2008. His strikeout rate was above average, and his walk rate was atrocious.

However, something happened while Colby Lewis was in Japan. He was either bitten by a radioactive sabermetrician or learned to pitch. Overseas in 2009, Lewis compiled a scary-good 2.96 ERA, 9.49 K/9, and 0.97 BB/9 in 176.3 innings. He was also dominant in 2008 (2.68 ERA, 189 K, 27 BB in 178 IP). The Rangers, who drafted Lewis over a decade ago, decided to take gamble on Lewis (much like how I take a gamble every year on Chris Davis...) by signing the reclaimed pitcher to a 2-year/$5 million deal.

So far this season, Lewis has been outstanding, both in fantasy and real life. As of today, Lewis is sitting with a 3-0 record over his first four starts with a 3.80 ERA (3.54 FIP, 3.82 xFIP) with 28 K to boot over his first 28.3 IP. With a pair of 10 K games to his name this season, Lewis currently ranks sixth in the majors in K/9 (right behind "stuff" giant Tim Lincecum). The 4.56 BB/9 rate is a bit concerning, especially considering that Lewis only walked 19 batters in Japan all of last season. All but 4 of those walks, however, came in his second and third outings, one of which was against Boston. It's clear that Lewis won't be the second coming of Greg Maddux, but league average control (3.40 BB/9) is entirely plausible and such would only make his current peripherals that much more tantalizing.

Colby Lewis is certainly a "sleeper" to keep a watch on this early season. If he's available in your league, I high suggest at least clearing a bench space for his services. Lewis' numbers have been solid so far this season and the possibility of better control in the future (he only walked 2 batters in 6.1 IP last night) only speaks of better things to come:
  • If Lewis' BB/9 were to be only a half run lower at 4.00 per nine right now, his xFIP would be 3.63.
  • If Lewis' BB/9 were a full run lower per nine (league average), his xFIP would be 3.46.
  • If Lewis' BB/9 were 3.00 per nine, his xFIP would be 3.30.
DME's Bold End of Season Forecast: 13 W, 170 IP, 3.72 ERA, 168 K, 1.32 WHIP


Cubsfan4evr said...

He was a very good sleeper in fantasy for you. I like him a lot. I have picked him up in all of my leagues where I could even before this post!