2009 O’s Retrospective: Kam Mickolio

In part four of my almost 50 part series “Better Know An Oriole” (otherwise known as 2009 Orioles Retrospective), I take a look at hard-throwing reliever Kam Mickolio… THE FIGHTIN’ ALMIGHTY!

Kam “The Almighty” Mickolio started the year in Triple-A, where he ended up compiling 43.2 quality relief innings of 3.50 ERA ball, a 3.11 FIP and 10.7 K/9. He was shuttled between Norfolk and Baltimore a few times, being called up for a couple weeks in July, for a few days at the beginning of August, and then finally for good in the middle of August. I expected Mickolio to spend a little more time in the majors than he did, projecting 35 IP and a 4.24 ERA for the big right-hander before the season.

In 13.2 innings pitched for the Orioles, Kam was very effective.  He posted a 2.63 ERA that was backed up by a 2.58 FIP, 9.22 K/9, 4.61 BB/9, and no home runs allowed. That strike-out rate is fantastic, but the walks are a bit concerning. Mickolio did a fine job getting ahead in the count, starting batters with a strike an above average 61% of the time. One of his walks was intentional, so his unintentional walk rate was a better but still not very good 3.95 BB/9. Mickolio’s never had great control, but if he can keep it manageable things should be OK. The 0 HR/9 was a fluke, given that Kam only had a 39.5% groundball rate and a 36.8% flyball rate (plus a pretty high 23.7% line-drive rate).  The Hardball Times has his expected FIP at 3.97 when normalizing for the home run rate, which is solid but not spectacular.

As far as his pitches go, Mickolio relied primarily on a 94.7 mph fastball that he threw about 81% of the time. He got a good amount of tail on it, but not as much sink as I had expected. His slider dropped straight down and had some bite on it. Both pitches were above average offerings according to FanGraphs pitch values, coming in at +0.78 runs per 100 pitches thrown. He only mixed in an occasional change-up, which didn’t have a ton of movement but was worth +4.35 runs per 100 thrown in the very small sample size. Overall, batters had a hard time with Kam making contact only 72.7% of the time. He’s definitely got some good stuff.

The O’s shut Mickolio down September 7th with shoulder inflammation, but he should be a quality member of the 2010 Orioles bullpen.

Also, check out the interview Right Off Russell did with Mickolio earlier this year in which he allowed me to pass along a couple questions:

“They were (1) how his strategy for pitching to righties and lefties differs (because of the cross-fire delivery) and (2) where did he get the nickname “The Almighty”?…

The answers were (1) nothing in particular different, probably more sinkers to lefties and (2) he’d never heard about the nickname.”

Photo by Keith Allison and used under the Creative Commons License 2.0.