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Travis Blackley is not Randy Johnson

It should go without saying, but the Diamondbacks did not bring Travis Blackley to Arizona to replace Randy Johnson.  Blackley is a southpaw, and historically a starter, but a rotation spot doesn't seem to be in order.  The Australian got a split deal, which will pay just over minimum in the majors.

Unfortunately, it needs to be said - Blackley is not Johnson's replacment, no matter what management blathers.  At the link, Jim McLennan talks about Blackley being out of options, but a worthwhile flier for almost no cost.

Blackley was injured, but has been said to be regaining his lost velocity.  It hasn't gone all the way back, based on reports out of the Caribbean, where he has pitched alright this winter.

Based on CHONE, Blackley projects to somewhere around replacement level.  If I were to bet, he starts the year in a AAA rotation.  There is a little bit of data in PITCHf/x, from two non-stellar starts in 2007 as a Giant. 

In those games, he appears to only use a four-seam fastball, along with a change-up, cutter and curveball.  Before you look at these numbers, remember, he has picked up a couple more MPH since 2007.  And this is just two games.

cfx # mph pfx_x pfx_z deg rpm
CH 59 78.9 8.6 5.7 126.6 1,181.5
CU 13 73.2 -1.2 -7.3 168.9 807.1
FA 74 85.4 7.2 10.5 145.9 1,559.0
FC 19 82.8 1.4 5.3 164.4 662.3

Blackley01_medium

The release point is skewed on the curve - he does release it " more overhand", but not as much as these flight paths indicate.

Blackley02_medium

cfx # LHH RHH Swing Whiff B:CS ISZ Paint Chase Watch
CH 59 17 42 0.627 0.216 1.8 0.509 0.136 0.448 0.200
CU 13 4 9 0.385 0.200 7.0 0.231 0.154 0.200 0.000
FA 74 23 51 0.311 0.044 2.6 0.365 0.149 0.213 0.519
FC 19 7 12 0.211 0.250 4.0 0.105 0.158 0.177 0.500
165 51 114 0.418 0.159 2.7 0.376 0.146 0.272 0.339

 

type # CH CU FA FC
first 40 0.2250 0.0000 0.7000 0.0750
even 38 0.4737 0.1579 0.2368 0.1316
ahead 39 0.2821 0.1795 0.3846 0.1538
behind 40 0.4500 0.0000 0.4250 0.1250
full 8 0.3750 0.0000 0.6250 0.0000
165 0.3576 0.0788 0.4485 0.1152

Blackley, despite lacking velocity, has decent stuff.  He's a longshot as far as making any type of significant impact in the majors, though.  His track record says the upside is pretty low - he's no longer a top prospect.