A couple weeks ago, Tim Dierkes and I took a look at the hardest-throwing pitchers of the 2014 free agent class and those with the highest ground-ball rates. Both of those trends are highly coveted skills to have as a free agent pitcher, as is the ability to limit walks. With an advanced mention of the small sample size caveat (these numbers could change quickly, especially for the relievers), here's a look at the free agent pitchers who have posted the lowest BB/9 marks of the season thus far…
- Bartolo Colon — 0.38
- Ervin Santana — 1.12
- Dan Haren — 1.19
- Bronson Arroyo — 1.37
- Wandy Rodriguez — 1.83 ($13MM club option, $2.5MM buyout)
- Ricky Nolasco — 2.19
- Jon Lester — 2.26 ($13MM club option, $250K buyout)
- Hiroki Kuroda — 2.31
- Phil Hughes — 2.40
- Mike Pelfrey — 2.58
- Casey Janssen — 0.00 ($4MM club option, $250K buyout)
- Edward Mujica — 0.56
- Bruce Chen — 0.68
- LaTroy Hawkins — 1.00
- Matt Thornton — 1.42 ($6MM club option, $1MM club buyout)
- Koji Uehara — 1.72
- Joe Smith — 1.98
- Derek Lowe — 2.19
- Chad Qualls — 2.20
- Brandon Lyon — 2.30
Hiroki Kuroda appears on two of the three lists, as do Mike Pelfrey and Phil Hughes. The latter two, of course, have done little to make themselves appetzing for free agent suitors. Jon Lester, at this point, would appear on all three lists, though his club option seems a sure thing to be exercised.
The same can be said of Casey Janssen, who has yet to issue a walk or blow a save on the season as the Blue Jays' closer. The relief crop listed here is mostly one of veteran hurlers (Lowe doesn't figure to generate much interest), but Mujica presents an interesting case. He's taken his game to a new level this season, posting stellar K/BB numbers and a respectable ground-ball rate after being unexpectedly thrust into the ninth inning spotlight in St. Louis. As I said, these numbers are subject to change quickly, and of course it's tough to recover from a few early bouts of poor command as a reliever. Just ask Fernando Rodney, who likely won't crack this list for the rest of the season.
None of these pitchers currently reside in the Top 10 of Tim's free agent power rankings, although I could see Santana working his way in eventually due to the relative weakness of the free agent class. Haren, too, could find himself on that list with a few solid months of work for the Nats, but he's got some catching up to do.