Felipe Paulino had a very bad week, but it wasn’t like a bad week you or I might suffer. When I have a rough week, I usually just make my wife a little miserable. Paulino’s bad week turned an entire fan base into a despondent mess. In the last seven days, Paulino has taken three losses, including the last two in San Francisco. On the season, he is 0-3 with a 7.59 ERA. He’s given up 19 hits, 9 runs, 2 HRs, and five walks. These are remarkable totals considering he’s only thrown 10.1 innings. The best thing for everyone would be to send him to AAA, but that’s not a possibility. He’s out of options, meaning that if the Rockies designate him for assignment, he’ll be able to sign with anyone.
The Rockies traded for Paulino because he has an intriguing fastball. Last season, as a starter, only Ubaldo Jimenez threw harder. Over the course of his career, his fastball velocity has consistently averaged over 95 MPH. That catches attention and it’s the reason why the Rockies will lose him if he is designated for assignment. However, when you look at the facts, Paulino’s fastball isn’t that great. Actually, it’s an awful pitch.
So far this season, Felipe has thrown his fastball 66.5% of the time — over 10% more than last year. That’s not a good thing; his heat has never been effective against big league hitters. Yes, he throws hard, but with very little movement and he is easy to read. Also, he can’t locate the pitch unless he’s throwing it right down the middle. Over the course of his career, Paulino has a negative 45.1 win probability when throwing his fastball. In five big league seasons, that number has never been positive. So far this season, his wFB is -5.3. To put a little perspective on fastball win probability, Huston Street’s 2010 wFB was 10.6. An example of an outstanding fastball would be Ubaldo’s. He had a wFB of 30 in 2010.
If Paulino’s best perceived attribute is actually a major flaw, what’s the point in keeping him? There isn’t one. Right now, the Rockies are not fielding their best team. They are keeping a major bullpen liability because they are scared of losing him. Meanwhile, they have two guys in Colorado Springs that are pitching lights out. Matt Daley has yet to surrender an earned run this year and Rex Brothers is striking out over sixteen batters per every nine innings. Either guy would be a significant upgrade over Paulino.
Having Paulino around with guys like Brothers and Daley waiting in the wings makes no sense. Say you have this really ugly girlfriend with a terrible personality, herein after known as Feli. You want to break up with her and you have other options. There are two particularly intriguing possibilities that are very interested in you, herein after known as Rexi and Mattie. However, you don’t make the switch because you’re afraid someone else will start dating Feli. That’s the point we’ve reached with Paulino. The Rox are willing to carry dead weight in their bullpen because they don’t want anyone else to have it.