Volstad and the Long Ball; or, Hanging MeatballsBy
Chris Volstad made his return to the Marlins’ rotation today after a brief stint in the minors. It was hardly the glorious conquering return Marlins fans envisioned. He suffered the loss after going a truly mediocre 6 innings, giving up 4 runs, 7 hits, and 2 walks, striking out 7. All 4 runs were earned and came via the long ball; he served up 3 homers in total, a 2-bagger to our old friend Cody Ross as well as solo bombs to Nate Schierholtz and Brandon Belt.
Chris Volstad is no greenhorn regarding serving up dingers to the opponent. In his 94 major league appearances spanning back to 2008, his home run per fly ball rate (HR/FB) is 11.9%. This is slightly above league average, usually around 10.6%. However there is a large variance in his year-to-year HR/FB rates. In 2009 and 2011 (the years in which he has struggled statistically), his HR/FB rates are 17.5% and 14.8% respectively.
Volstad was optioned to AAA New Orleans on July 23rd. He made 3 starts, going 1-1 with a 4.42 ERA (3.85 FIP). Below are the game-by-game stat lines:
AAA New Orleans in the Pacific Coast League, which is notorious for its bandbox ballparks where home runs leave the park like it was 1998. Considering Volstad only allowed 1 home run over 3 starts (181/3 innings), the Marlins brass figured he probably cut down on the hanging meatballs. Considering the team has no shot to make the playoffs combined with the recent struggles of the rotation, he will benefit from continued work against major league hitters.
Chris Volstad is still on 24 years old. He is an affordable young starting pitcher who most likely is still a lock for a rotation spot next year. If he is ever going to develop into more than a National League 5th starter he will have to cut his HR/FB rate to somewhere near league average. It is fairly concerning that he has played half his games at JoerobbieProplayerDolphinsLandsharkSunlife stadium, with the center field where fly balls go to die. No one knows how forgiving the new ballpark will be to pitchers like young Mr. Volstad.