our very own corncob -- just back from hohokam -- makes an interesting speculation in his reflections about sergio mitre and his future in the majors.
i know mitre is the anointed one du jour, and many are high on him and expect him to contribute this year.
but mitre pitches with a lot of guys on base -- a 1.39 whip in 2003 at west tenn, 1.32 in iowa last year. and it isn't his walk rate, which isn't terribly bad. the inescapable truth is that mitre simply gets hit. his career minor-league number of 9.04 hits/9 innings is very high in the context of successful major league starters, whose career minor league number is often closer to 7.5. he's never had a minor-league season (despite already having over five hundred innings under his belt) where he allowed less than 8.41 hits/9; that also is very unusual for a decent major league starter, even in just their first four minor league seasons.
mitre's also not a great strikeout pitcher, with 390 in 508 innings -- 6.91 K/9. but i think that of somewhat less concern, as -- while not in the class of the best cub pitchers -- this is still a respectable rate.
one can compare (unfavorably) mitre's propensity to give up base hits to bobby brownlie or reynel pinto -- or even angel guzman -- all of whom have come to eclipse mitre's rank in the potential pecking order.
it's also quite common to add one or two hits/9 on the career minors number in the majors. the only cub pitchers who approached 10.0 hits/9 in 2004 were a lame borowski (11.39), wellemeyer (9.99) and sergio himself (12.37). no one would call these performances tolerable.
i know his era seems low -- but in the minors, era is often low thanks to the smaller power numbers. and mitre is possessed of the vaunted heavy ball, which helps still more. and he hasn't been knocked out of the park in the majors either. and yet -- and yet -- he HAS been knocked AROUND it to devastating effect.
does any of this mean that mitre cannot or will never make it? certainly we can't predict the future. maybe this will be the year mitre figures it out. but i think that, barring such a turn of a corner, it would be prudent to limit expectations of mitre unless he shows greater ability. a projection on the order of current/recent cubs jimmy anderson (9.25), ryan dempster (8.68) or alan benes (9.14) seems more realistic than the likes of zambrano (7.81), clement (7.88) or wood (5.81).