No, we don’t like him. He pitches for the Brewers and Cubs fans clearly outnumber anything else on this blog. He’s been a thorn in the side of the Cubs for a long time. The reason for that is simple; he’s a pretty damn good pitcher.
When he’s healthy.
That is indeed always the caveat with Sheets, especially after he left his game against the Cubs on Wednesday night with discomfort in his elbow.
It’s a troubling sign for the sagging Brewers, especially since as of today they still don’t have any clarity on whether Sheets will make his last two starts of the season. Without Sheets, it’s hard to like Milwaukee’s chances of getting into the playoffs.
But what we’ve said about Sheets for a long time, especially before the Brewers were good, is that he’s basically Kerry Wood in a Brewers uniform.
Wood is a couple of years older and made a bigger splash in his debut, winning the NL Rookie of the Year in 1998. As a starter, though, Wood never won more than 14 games in a season despite nasty stuff. He battled arm problems after 1998 and 2003 before reviving himself this year as a closer.
Sheets, despite being touted as one of the best “stuff” pitchers in the game, has never won more than 13 games (this year) and hasn’t been healthy for a full season since 2004.
Think we’re just tossing around a random comparison? Well here are some numbers to back up our logic:
Keep in mind that Sheets is currently in his eighth year, while Wood is in his 10th
-Wood’s career record is 76-61. Sheets is 86-82.
-Wood has 11 career complete games and 5 shutouts. Sheets has 18 complete games and 4 shutouts (3 of which have come this year).
-Wood’s career ERA is 3.66. Sheets’ is 3.71.
-Wood’s career WHIP is 1.25. Sheets comes in at 1.20.
-Wood’s highest single-season strikeout total was 266 in 2003. Sheets’s best mark was 264 in 2004.
-Sheets has allowed 159 career home runs. Wood has given up 131.
-Wood is clearly the less hittable of the two, as batters hit just .215 off him, as compared to .255 for Sheets. But Wood has also issued 576 walks, compared to just 311 for Sheets.
-And Sheets, in two fewer seasons has run up a total of 1,425.2 innings pitched, compared to 1,214 for Wood.
-After Wood’s fifth season (2003) he has not topped 200 innings. Since Sheets’ fourth season (2004), he has not logged more than 200 innings either. He was on pace to do so this year (196) but now it seems unclear as to whether or not he’ll get that chance.
We’ll see what the actual injury is this time, but Tommy John surgery could be forthcoming. It’ll be interesting to see how the free agent market reacts when Sheets hits it. How can a general manager justify giving this guy a long, expensive deal given his history?
Only the shadow knows.