With a 7.32 ERA in 59 innings split between two teams Chad Qualls had a dreadful season, but most of that can be blamed on a .399 batting average on balls in play that was the worst in all of baseball among the 327 pitchers who logged at least 50 innings.
In fact, Qualls was one of just two pitchers with a batting average on balls in play above .375. Qualls could be unlucky again in 2011 and that number would still probably drop by 40 points, and his career mark is .309.
Thanks to a solid strikeout rate and high percentage of ground balls he posted a nice-looking Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) of 3.91, which is typically a better predictor of future ERA than ERA itself. And both his xFIPs and ERAs were consistently in the 2.75-3.50 range from 2004-2009.
Even while struggling Qualls maintained good velocity on his fastball-slider combo and if teams can avoid being scared off by his ugly ERA there’s a quality setup man to be found in Qualls’ track record and secondary numbers.
The Rangers will not sign free agent reliever Seung-hwan Oh after all. Reports from MLB.com’s TR Sullivan indicate that negotiations were brought to a halt after a physical issue was found with the pitcher. While the specifics have yet to be released, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the issue was revealed on an MRI of the right-hander’s arm.
Oh was thought to be in talks with the Rangers last week, though a deal was never officially announced by the club. The 35-year-old righty is fresh off of a two-year run with the Cardinals, during which he posted a cumulative 39 saves, 2.85 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 in 139 innings. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season, however, and finished 2017 with a disappointing 4.10 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 62 appearances for the team.
While Oh hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his arm in the majors so far, he does have a history of prior injuries during his time in KBO. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2009 and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2010. It’s possible that the Rangers saw an entirely different problem on the MRI, but clearly it was enough to give them strong reservations about inking the righty to a $2.75+ million deal. It’s still possible that another of Oh’s suitors will offer him a contract prior to Opening Day; the Giants were rumored to be interested in the veteran reliever, among other teams, though their recent acquisition of lefty reliever Tony Watson will likely take them out of the running now.