'Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin (43)' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ Why am I bothering to write about a guy who had a 4.25 ERA in 2011? How about because he had a WHIP of 1.08 that was 7th in the American League. Yeah, that's right, Josh Tomlin was an elite option in WHIP last season. Does that make him an elite option in the fantasy game? You already know the answer to that is no, but what if I ask this question – is Tomlin someone you'll want to target in AL-only leagues in 2012?

Since I already mentioned it, I'll touch on it briefly. Tomlin had a better WHIP than Michael Pineda (1.10), David Price (1.14) and Jeremy Hellickson (1.15) in the AL, while he posted a better mark than NL hurlers like Tim Hudson (1.14), Zack Greinke (1.20) and Tim Lincecum (1.21). Pretty phenomenal Mr. Tomlin.

The other aspect of Tomlin's game that was impressive was his ability to chew up innings. Only once in 26 starts did he fail to last five innings, and just three times in 26 starts did he fail to record at least six innings. That's pretty amazing in this day and age isn't it?

With that I will end the happy thoughts with Tomlin. You might be saying 'but Ray, he went 12-7 and surely he should get some love for that right?' I would respond by saying that's a strong record certainly helped by the fact that he worked deep into games, but wins and loses are simply not easily projectable, so I don't pay as much attention to those two categories as others do.

As for his performance, here are my concerns.

(1) His ERA was solid at 4.25, but the big league average in 2011 was 3.94, so clearly his ERA wasn't that good now was it?

(2) Tomlin just doesn't strike anyone out. Look at the numbers. I want my starters to have a K/9 mark over six at a minimum (the big league average in 2011 was 7.13). Tomlin posted pathetic 5.30 mark in 2010 before his K/9 fell to 4.84 in 2011. He simply stinks in this category, so badly in fact that it nearly wipes out the positivity of his WHIP success. A starting pitcher who has an upside of 110 Ks if everything breaks right doesn't excite me, at all.

(3) You cannot expect Tomlin to walk merely 1.14 batters per nine innings like he did in 2011 moving forward. The guy walked 21 batters in 165.1 innings as he cut in half his already impressive BB/9 mark of 2.34 from his rookie season. That 1.14 rate is not sustainable.

(4) Tomlin gets beat around the yard frequently allowing the ball to end up in the seats. After posting a 1.23 HR/9 mark in 2010, that number inched upward to 1.31 in 2011. Tomlin posted a 0.95 GB/FB ratio, well below the big league average of 1.10.

Look, here's the simple truth.

Tomlin doesn't strike out enough batters to be “average” in that category. Tomlin will almost certainly see his walk rate increase in 2012. Tomlin's GB/FB rate is sub par.

So if you have a pitcher with those traits, do you really think that he has a chance to produce a 1.08 WHIP on a consistent basis? I have zero faith that he will be as effective in 2012 --- think Trevor Cahill and the regression he faced moving from 2010 to 2011 (see his Player Profile). So, will I target Tomlin in an AL-only league? There's no chance of that happening, but that doesn't mean he won't be a solid option in that setup though one that has some serious warts.

By Ray Flowers




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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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