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Monday, March 29, 2010
No. 4 Starter Watch: Indians

Sorry about missing this one! Sheldon Ocker:

Talbot's got essentially two-and-a-half seasons in Triple-A, and his numbers have been fairly consistent: 4.23 ERA, 2.7 walks and 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings. He's given up few homers, only 25 in 376 innings. It's a good record, but not a great one. As Sickels writes, "Nothing about him is spectacular, but he throws strikes and uses what he has to good effect. He's an older prospect ... but it wouldn't surprise me to see him pitch surprisingly well, sort of like Randy Wells did with the Cubs last year."

The Wells comparison is a good one. Talbot's one year younger than Wells (who got his shot with the Cubs last spring). In 309 Triple-A innings, Wells has a 4.28 ERA with 3.1 walks and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He wasn't as stingy with the home runs as Talbot, giving up 34.

But before we go jumping to any crazy conclusions, it's worth mentioning that Wells, though a wonderful surprise to just about everyone, probably isn't as good as his 3.05 ERA with the Cubs last season might suggest. While he kept his home run and walk rates down, his strikeout rate also fell. I've looked at three projections, and all have Wells with an ERA in the 4.25-4.50 range this season.

Which seems reasonable for Talbot, except with an American League cherry on top. Which means an ERA somewhat north of 4.50 but south of 5.00 ... and that's perfectly acceptable for a fifth starter pitching for a team that lost 97 games last year.