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Ben and Sam reevaluate the NL West after the deadline and take stock of this season's converted starters.

Effectively Wild Episode 11: "Train Crossing"

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March 12, 2003 12:00 am

The Grand Experiment

0

Nate Silver

Moving a top-notch reliever into the starting rotation is neither a new nor a particularly unusual idea. The Indians and Orioles experimented with moving Hoyt Wilhelm into a starting role in 1958, which culminated in a nationally televised no-hitter. Bill Lee and Wilbur Wood began their major league careers as relievers; Goose Gossage received a one-year trial as a starter; Rick Aguilera logged 89 career starts. Derek Lowe, of course, made a successful conversion last year, which may have helped assuage any misgivings on the parts of Bowden and Garagiola. What's interesting about this year's guinea pigs is that Graves and Kim are radically different pitchers. Both were born in the Far East and allow very few home runs; that's where the similarities end. Graves, statistically speaking, is a finesse pitcher--perhaps the most successful finesse closer since the beloved Dan Quisenberry. Kim is a fire-and-brimstone submariner, striking out a quarter of the batters he faces, sometimes at the cost of allowing others too many free passes.

Starting pitching has long been the Bowden Reds' weakest link; 30 league average starts out of Graves would go a long way toward placing them in the midst of a Great American Wild Card Race. The situation is even more critical in Arizona, where PECOTA is expecting a big decline in the Snakes' offense, and the lack of obvious short relief replacements makes the move a higher-risk gambit. If Kim can make the transition successfully, it's not unrealistic to imagine Diamondbacks finishing 1-2-3 in the league ERA race; anything less, and Arizona could have trouble defending its title in what should continue to be a highly-competitive division.

Moving a top-notch reliever into the starting rotation is neither a new nor a particularly unusual idea. The Indians and Orioles experimented with moving Hoyt Wilhelm into a starting role in 1958, which culminated in a nationally televised no-hitter. Bill Lee and Wilbur Wood began their major league careers as relievers; Goose Gossage received a one-year trial as a starter; Rick Aguilera logged 89 career starts. Derek Lowe, of course, made a successful conversion last year, which may have helped assuage any misgivings on the parts of Bowden and Garagiola.

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