Padres Rookie Pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne
Last week, Padres rookie Odrisamer Despaigne came close to being the first pitcher in San Diego’s history to throw a no hitter. He eventually fell short in the 8th inning, finishing with 2 hits, 3 walks and 5 K’s in 7 2/3 innings. Despite being a rookie, this is not technically the 27 year olds first dip in the foray of professional baseball. Before defecting from Cuba, he pitched in Cuban leagues along with the Cuban National team. So with him jumping from around 3% to 25% owned in Yahoo leagues, is he worth owning in your league?
In just 5 games started so far, Despaigne has an impressive stat line. He is 2-1 with a 1.31 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 17 K’s in 34.1 innings. The strikeout totals aren’t dazzling, but should increase considering his 29 K’s in 23.2 innings in AAA. In his no hit bid, he did have an issue with free passes. Despaigne gave up 3 walks to bring his season total up to 11. He also hit his first 2 hit batsmen this year. These stats add up to a 4.46 K/9 and 1.55 K/BB rates. These are not great, but he has shown in AAA (11.03, 2.23 respectively) those numbers lines can improve.
The Sabermetric Scenario
As is the case with most rookies, especially those who come from foreign areas, sabermetric stats are scarce. With Despaigne, all we can go off of is his 2014 numbers in San Diego. His 1.73 GB/FB rate and 3.3 HR/FB% both show promise despite being only 5 games into his MLB career.
His fastball tops out at 92 MPH, but the command of his off speed pitches is what propelled him through the minors. He uses his fastball 41% of the time, which is fairly low compared to most starters, and the most used secondary pitch is his cutter, at 28.4%. The cutter also averages 87.2 MPH. His other pitches include a curveball and a changeup, even though neither pitch is exactly lighting up radar guns or being overly used by Despaigne.
Fantasy Baseball Outlook
Does Despaigne have some value as a streamer pickup off the waiver wire? Absolutely, and maybe more than that. Even though his most impressive start was against the Mets, he did show his worth the prior start vs. the Dodgers (top 5 MLB team vs. RHP), when he went 7 IP with a 7:0 K:BB ratio and just 2 ER allowed.
He is good add in very deep leagues, and can be looked at as an option in standard deep leagues and even some shallow leagues if you're in desperate need of a pitcher who can help your ERA and WHIP. I personally added him, dropping Drew Hutchinson in the process, as Despaigne's home ball park and division competition make him a more reliable source of quality ERA and WHIP than Hutchinson.
Overall, Despaigne can be a valuable second half rookie with no real threat to be demoted back to the minors. His next start comes Saturday afternoon @ Atlanta, who is fairly inept vs. RHP, so it will be an interesting test for Despaigne away from the security blanket of Petco Park.