Nate Robertson's vacated rotation spot will be filled by Chris Lambert, the 25 year-old pitcher acquired from St. Louis for Mike Maroth last year. Lambert was thought of by many to be a reach when the Cardinals took him in the first round of the 2004 draft, and he struggled mightily in the Cardinals system. Then came his season in Toledo this year. Before looking at his monthly splits, I had thought I noticed improvement over the course of the year. Let's break it down month by month, first with ERA:
It would appear, based on this the sense of improvement is innaccurate. Not so fast, let's take a look at Lambert's peripherals:
April: 12.6% BB/PA, 10.1% K/PA
May: 5.4% BB/PA, 22.4% K/PA
June: 8.4, 22.4
July: 5.9, 20.6
August: 5.8, 22.3
It would appear that Lambert has gone the way of Armando Galarraga. That is, his peripherals have caught up to his quality early performance. One more thing to worry about is his ground ball rate, which was an alarmingly low 37% this season in Toledo. For this particular Tigers' team, this is less of a problem. I'd rather have guys hitting balls at Curtis Granderson than Edgar Renteria and Carlos Guillen.
Overall, Chris Lambert pitched very well in Toledo this year, especially since May. He deserves a shot at starting, and especially deserves a shot at next year's rotation. This could be a big audition for Lambert and for the Tigers.