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What's wrong with Wesley Wright?

Wesley Wright had an encouraging season as a rookie.  The young former Rule 5 draftee pitched well to begin the season in 08, but faced some ups and downs as the season continued.  Despite a sub-par ERA in 2008, he looked like a pitcher who would improve.  His ability to get lefthand batters out last year seemed to fit Cooper's proclivity for LOOGYs (lefthanded one out guy).

This season, however, Wright has been one of the more explosive gas cans out of the bullpen.  Wright's ERA sits at 8.48 for the month and 7.59 for the season.  Probably more discouraging is that Cooper is prone to bring him in to face lefthanded batters at the beginning of an inning in a close game, and he often ends up lighting  a big fuse which blows up when another reliever replaces him.  As a LOOGY, Wright seems to have lost the ability to get lefthanded batters out. 

Lefthanders' line against Wright this season:

.476 (BA)  .560 (OBP) , .524 (SLG) , 1.084 (OPS)

Lefthanders' OPS+ against Wright is  208.  That means he is turning every lefthanded batter into Barry Bonds in one of his best seasons.  It might be tempting to ask whether he should face righthanded batters instead, but he hasn't been tough exactly on righthanders (OPS+ of 128; .333 BA).

Most of the damage has been done on Wesley Wright's fastball, which he has thrown for an average speed of 91.4 mph.  The surprising part is that Wright's K/9 is a very good 9.24.  And this might be one reason Cooper keeps trotting him out in leveraged situations.  Wright has given up too many HRs, as reflected by his 2.13 HR/9.  His sky high 23% HR/Flyball probably reflects some bad luck and small sample size.  Wright's BB/9 is 4.26, which isn't very good, but is more than 1 BB per game lower than last year.  Perhaps Wright feels pressured to avoid the walk this year, and throws more balls in the zone.

Wright allows a very high batting average on balls in play (BABIP) at .468.  Lefthanders have an unworldly .714 BABIP against Wright.  That number is so high, that it has to reflect some bad luck.  Here might be one explanation for his high BABIP:  he has allowed  an infield hit rate of 21%.  All of this tends to support the idea that he has suffered some bad luck.

I think the Astros should consider sending Wright to Round Rock to get straightened out and regain some confidence.  Maybe Burt Hooten can help him more than the Astros' coaching staff.  Otherwise, if he stays on the big league roster, Cooper will continue sending him out to face tough LHBs in leveraged situations.  Round Rock doesn't have an effective LHP to send in return. However, Paronto and Donnelly are righthanded reilievers who have been fairly effective at Round Rock.  But either pitcher would have to be added to the 40 man roster to be be called up to the Astros.