The Prize of Surprise: Mitch Stetter
If there’s one position that Texas Rangers fans are paying the closest attention to this spring it’s the competition for left-handed reliever. With Darren Oliver leaving for Toronto via free agency and Texas not willing to invest a lot of money on Mike Gonzalez, who apparently doesn’t look good after having off-season knee surgery, the Rangers have invited several lefties to spring training.
And if there’s one guy to keep an eye on it’s Mitch Stetter, who Texas signed as a free agent in the offseason after he spent his entire short career with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Stetter is not a household name and that’s due largely in part that he’s only pitched 86 innings in five seasons, and only 10.2 innings the past two years. He spent the majority of the 2011 season on the disabled list with a left labral irritation similar to the injury that bothered Darren O’ Day last year.
So what else does Stetter bring to the table other than a 4.08 career ERA? He’s a ground ball pitcher, which is a definite plus when you have the defensive infield that Texas possesses. He also has an above average sinker and slider.
In his last full season in the majors (2009) Stetter had a 3.60 ERA, with a 4.43 FIP, to go along with a 1.42 WHIP. Those are not bad numbers at all but I believe that they will improve with Texas, again due to the fact that Texas has a better defense than the Brewers.
Stetter has only appeared in one game so far this spring pitching one inning and allowing two runs on three hits which ballooned his ERA to 18.00 and his WHIP to 3.00. But that is just one game and fans should keep in mind that during his 2011 spring training his numbers included a 1.59 ERA and .72 WHIP in seven appearances. That is the pitcher he can be and the one that I believe he will be.
And when you think about it, can he really be a worse option than Michael Kirkman?
So keep your eye on Mitch Stetter this spring. He may not have the numbers of a Darren Oliver or Mike Gonzalez but he can be a key piece of the Texas Rangers bullpen this season.