Jesse Litsch: Ready To Implode

Jesse Litsch: Ready To Implode

Jesse Litsch

After watching countless Sportsnet Jays telecasts I had noticed myself starting to get brainwashed by the announcers repeating the same refrain: “There isn’t a team in MLB that wouldn’t love to have the Jays rotation 1-5”. Oh really? I somehow remember cursing my TV at the ineptness of Josh Towers and have somehow glazed over his replacement, Jesse Litsch. Well I decided to look into him a little further.

Jesse Litsch had a breakout year with the Blue Jays organization in just his first full season in pro baseball, and at the young age of twenty-one. The right-hander began the year with Dunedin and showed his maturity and poise on the mound. He pitched with perfect command and struck out nearly a batter an inning before moving up to Double-A New Hampshire to finish the 2006 season.

Litsch started well in New Hampshire in 2007 but improved as the season progressed.  The 22-year-old right-hander posted a 5-1 record in six starts for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and was leading the Eastern League with an 0.96 earned-run average when promoted to Toronto.
Jesse Litsch is 4-4 on the season, but his 3.64 ERA is interesting. In fact, over the past month, his ERA has been only 2.73, which makes him even more promising. However he is striking out fewer than four batters per game (as opposed to his minor league numbers of 6.75K/9IP), which means he is not missing very many bats and is relying on John McDonald and the rest of the Toronto defense to bail him out. With a rate of 3.3 walks allowed per game, he is the owner of a horrible 1.1 K/BB.

It is just a matter of time before the baseball gods level the playing field so to speak and Jesse Litsch becomes the next Josh Towers.

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22 replies on “Jesse Litsch: Ready To Implode”
  1. says: Kman

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Over at ESPN.com they use Bill James component ERA, which is:

    ERC=(((H+BB+HBP)*PTB)/(BFP*IP))*9-.56

    For example, Marcum has a 3.01 ERC vs 3.29 actual
    Holliday has a 3.40 ERC vs 3.31 actual

    Litsch has a 4.85 ERC vs 3.54 actual. He’s getting lucky & his 1.475 WHIP isn’t going to hold.

  2. says: Jonathan

    On the other hand, his ERC in the second half (all but one start since his return from the minors) is only 3.98 and his WHIP 1.38. Sure his SUB-3 ERA is fantasy, but if he keeps pitching like this he has a lot of room to come back down to earth and still be a very good 5th starter/better than Josh Towers.

  3. says: Stuart

    Strikeouts are very overrated, and getting a lot of groundballs isn’t luck. Yeah, Litsch isn’t getting very many strikeouts, so what? That just keeps his pitch-count down so he can go deeper into games. I don’t see what the big deal is, except that Litsch isn’t pounding the strikezone as aggresively as Towers, and thus isn’t getting attacked by the homerun as much.

  4. says: Callum

    Strikeouts are overrated, I agree. They are really only valuable with a runner on third and less than two outs. One needs to look no further than to the Doc as to how well you can do with not getting many strikeouts. However the Doc doesn’t walk many people and groundballs have a way of finding holes with runners on base. Doc has a stellar K:BB ratio wheras Litsch’s leaves much to be desired. As for the ding dong, Litsch’s pitches have some sink so it is tougher for hitters to get any loft (like Towers’ tasty hanging meatballs).

  5. says: Shannon

    He’s our 5th starter! Name a 5th that’s been better this year for a MLB team. Hey, here is a prediction. “Your career is going to implode”, just like you though I have nothing to back that up with.

  6. says: TestSubjekt

    The folks over at the forum I post at feel the same way about Litsch.

    I think I’m starting to see the light. Today against the O’s doesn’t look like Litsch’s day.

  7. says: Kman

    Listch reminds me of another past Jays, although one’s a lefty and the others a righty. That player would be Chris Michalak, back from 2001. Outside of the pick-off(balk), they had similar stuff. Here’s a comparison of both of their stats after 11 GS.

    Michalak

    5-4
    64 IP
    57 H
    22 BB
    37 SO
    6 HR
    3.38 ERA

    Litsch

    4-5
    61 IP
    68 H
    22 BB
    24 SO
    6 HR
    3.54 HR

    We all know that the book & the league caught up with Michalak quickly. I’d expect the same thing to happen to Litsch in the remainder of his 2007 season starts.

  8. says: 2hot2hit

    Callum, since you decided to dig a bit deeper, let me help you. Trust me, I’m qualified. Jesse is a product of the Blue Jays’ excellent pitching coaches at all levels. One that they can be proud of because they are responsible for a great deal of his rapid success. As a Blue Jays draft and follow they they observed him more frequently than would be considered normal and have guided him every step of his career. As a college starter he was consistently 92-94 mph topping out at 95. He owns his school’s career strike-out record(200 in 190ip’s) as well as their Wins and ERA records. In 2004 he was the Florida State Pitcher of the Year, All- American, and as a Team USA player went to China to pitch in the Friendship Games. All that meant nothing when he reached the AA level the first time. He was getting rocked! Working with Dave LaRoche he adjusted his fastball to 88-92 and developed much more movement as a result. He also now has two out pitches now and uses them when instructed to specifically for the “K”. He is comfortable being a contact pitcher because of the talent he has behind him. Those great plays you call “luck” is simply their job. They do it all the time. They’re major leaguers. They can and usually do.

    I’ve been listening for twenty years to people waiting for Jesse Litsch to implode. Either he’s the “luckiest” ball player in history or maybe there is something to that rumour that he has talent.

  9. says: Kman

    RHP Sinker ballers can have some success for a time, but it is difficult to maintain when there is an overall lack of strikeouts pitched. I think a good recent example of this would be Ryan Drese. Litsch isn’t even a typical sinker baller, yet his approach could be considered similar. (induce weak contact to record outs, rely upon the D, etc.)

    The two “big” sinker ballers of recent times would have to be Derek Lowe & Brandon Webb. Lowe has averaged 5.5 K per 9 over the past six season & Webb has a career ratio over 7. Jesse on the other hand has a ratio under 4, which isn’t a great place to be.

    ERA can be quite a mis-leading stat. The fact is, opponents have a .346 OBP against Jesse & his record is under .500 (5-6). This is certainly nothing to write home about…

  10. says: Kman

    You’re right. He subs in the cutter as his gb, weak contact pitch. While they are different pitches, the overall philosophy behind them is the same. I’m probably being a bit hard on a 22 year old…

  11. says: Callum

    Not to poo-poo on Litsch’s fine performance, but Oakland is not really known for its hitting prowess and that was the 5th loss in a row for an injury ravaged team that is spiralling downwards.

    I sincerely hope Litsch proves me wrong and outings like this will go a long way to support his cause. But as Kman said Michalak has done this before, I remember Brandon Lyon doing the same as well as our old friend Gussy Chacin.

  12. says: Kman

    Yesterday’s start really turned Litsch stats from so-so to ugly.

    5 – 7
    4.03 ERA
    1.43 WHIP
    82.1 IP
    91 Hits
    35 K
    27 BB
    9 HR (4 in past 5 starts)

    It’s just one start of course. He comes across to me as Josh Towers esq. Either its working or its not.

  13. says: Callum

    To be fair to Jesse, he was going up against the AL’s highest-octane offense in their home park (albeit without Man-Ram). He will get by against teams like Oakland but Boston is a true test.

  14. says: Kman

    He’s actually far better suited to pitch against a team like Oakland, as they are more about the BB than hitting for power. The Boston, New Yorks, Detroit’s of the world are going to be more aggressive and try to drive mistakes for power. Oakland is more apt to take a pitch that other teams will chase/go after in order to work the count.

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