Marc Rzepczynski: Hard to spell, but easy to hit
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 | by Ian Hunter
R-Zep was one of the many pleasant surprises of this past season. Nobody could have foreseen the amount of success he would have this past year because he wasn't even a blip on the radar at the beginning of 2009. Now, Marc Rzepczynski could propel himself into a solid number three starter in less than one full season in the majors with the Blue Jays.
Scouring through the internets, I was pleased to find a new article on Fangraphs that listed R-Zep as having the highest O-Contact to Z-Contact percentage in the majors - even topping 2009 Cy Young finalists such as Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainright.
One might take R-Zep's 64 % contact rate outside the strike zone as bad news, but it's actually a blessing in disguise. As Fangraphs suggests, a pitcher that is able to induce swings at pitches outside the zone will rack up plenty of strikeouts.
One very important thing I learned from Scott Richmond earlier this year is that a pitcher's success ultimately depends on pitching to contact. If you try to power pitch and strike out every batter, you are eventually going to get knocked around.
Rzepczynski does a phenomental job of pitching to contact, evident by his 51 % ground ball rate. By inducing more ground balls and putting the ball in play, Rzepczynski helped keep his pitch count down to around 100 pitchers per start while also achieving a K/9 rate of 8.8.
I don't want to jump the gun here, but it appears as though Marc Rzepczynski is starting to take after another young Blue Jays starter that came out of nowhere to surprise everybody ... Roy Halladay.