And tonight, the much anticipated Mets debut of Jorge Bolivar Sosa. In 31.0 innings against hitters of questionable talent this year with Triple-A New Orleans, Sosa has been nothing short of outstanding. In 579.1 innings of big league service prior to this year, Sosa has been occasionally serviceable, though more often he has been well below average. Sosa's career ERA at the major league level is 4.61 and his career WHIP (walks+hits per inning) is 1.48 (gah!).
Bad news, right? Well, here's the thing: it's only been 31 innings, but Sosa has actually been quite a different pitcher this year in AAA than he has throughout his career. For starters, he has never finished a big league season with a groundball-to-flyball ratio better than 1 (it was .94 in 2003). He has been a flyball pitcher his entire career, and it has really cost him in the homerun department. In those 579.1 innings Sosa has coughed up 89 homeruns, or roughly one every seven innings. He has also had all manner of control problems, averaging almost a walk every two innings. This year, he has allowed just one homerun in those 31 innings and is walking just 1.16 batters per nine innings. He is also averaging almost a strikeout per inning, giving him a tidy strikeout-to-walk ratio of more than seven (!). He hasn't been particularly lucky, either, as his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .333 (compared to .318 for the entire Pacific Coast League).
What does all of this mean for tonight's game? Hard to say. I'm much more inclined to believe that Sosa is the pitcher who has been pretty crummy in almost 600 major league innings, not the one who has dominated minor leaguers for just over 30. Or, maybe he has taken a giant, refreshing gulp of Professor Rick's Kool-Aid. I guess we'll see. If he reverts to his homer-happy form, the thin Phoenix air isn't going to do him any favors tonight. The Diamondbacks aren't a particularly great hitting team, so those two factors might cancel each other out a bit, whatever that means.