Inside the 2006 Numbers: Shane Komine, SP

After a strong finish to his 2005 season and a breakout performance at the Arizona Fall League, a lot was expected of Shane Komine in 2006. The right-handed starter had a solid season for the Sacramento River Cats and even made two starts at the major league level. We take a closer look at Komine's stats during the 2006 season to analyze his performance more closely.

Shane Komine's 2006 Stats

Year

Team

Lg

Age

W/L

ERA

IP

H

R

ER

BB

K

HR

H/9

BB/9

K/9

2006

SAC

PCL

25

11-8

4.05

140

145

67

63

38

116

10

0.84

2.44

7.46


Background

Komine began the season as the Sacramento River Cats' Opening Day starter after a whirlwind 2005 season that saw him start the year in injury rehab and finish it as the ace of two championship clubs. The first championship he won was in the Texas League with the Midland Rockhounds, where he arrived just in-time to invigorate a starting rotation that had lost Dallas Braden and Jason Windsor to tired arms. He then pitched light's-out in the playoffs to help the Rockhounds win their first Texas League title. Komine then went on to the Arizona Fall League, where he was one of the few starting pitchers who left the league with a good ERA. He helped the Phoenix Desert Dogs win the AFL title with his outstanding performance and there was a buzz about Komine coming into the 2006 season.

Komine's journey back to success was a long one. The 2002 draft pick underwent Tommy John surgery in 2004 and effectively lost a year and a half of progress after making it all the way to AA in his first full professional season. He persevered, however, and returned to the mound with the same power curveball and low-90s fastball that had made him one of the top collegiate pitchers when he was at the University of Nebraska.

Komine appeared in his first big league camp this spring and he showed some nervousness, as he allowed five runs and two homers in only four innings. However, he impressed the River Cats coaching staff enough during spring training that they anointed him the Opening Day starter and team ace. He responded with a solid year for the River Cats. We take a closer look at that season below…

Slow Start, Strong Finish

When we spoke to Sacramento manager Tony DeFrancesco just before the start of the River Cats' regular season, he told us that Komine was working on some mechanical flaws coming out of spring training. Those flaws may explain why Komine got off to a relatively slow start to his season. For the months of April and May, Komine posted ERAs of 4.40 and 5.97, respectively. He allowed eight homeruns in only 57.1 innings and his K:BB ratio was a good, but not great 38:19.

In June, Komine posted a 4.72 ERA, but there were signs that he was coming around. He struck out more batters in June (40) than he had for the whole season up to that point (38). He also walked only 10 in 34.1 innings, an improvement over the 10 walks in 28.2 innings the previous month. His batting average against fell from .352 in May to .250 in June and he finished the month with two outstanding starts, including one in which he struck out 11 batters in only seven innings.

Those two June starts were the beginning of a string of eight straight wins for Komine, a string that would only be broken in his last start of the season for Sacramento. In July and August, Komine was simply outstanding. For July, he dominated PCL hitters to the tune of a .190 batting average against in 28.2 innings. He struck out 23 and walked only five during that span. He also didn't allow a homerun. Komine's performance in the month of July earned him a trip to the big leagues at the end of the month.

Ironically, Komine allowed a homerun to the first big league hitter he saw in his major league debut despite not having allowed one in over a month at the minor league level. He went on to pitch pretty well in that outing, allowing only the one run in six innings against Toronto. However, he allowed four runs in only three innings in his next outing and was sent back to AAA.

Komine had a short and unsuccessful relief appearance upon returning to Sacramento. However, he was back on-track in his next outing for the River Cats and in two June starts for Sacramento, he went 2-0 and allowed only two runs in 12 innings pitched. He struck out nine and walked only two in those two starts.

Equally Effective Against Righties and Lefties

Komine showed the ability to pitch well against both right-handed and left-handed hitters this season. He was marginally more effective against left-handed batters despite being a right-handed pitcher. Komine held lefties to a .257 batting average against and allowed only three homeruns in 253 at-bats. He induced 74 groundballs against 60 fly-outs off of lefties.

Against right-handers, Komine allowed a .276 batting average against and 10 homers in 290 at-bats. He walked fewer righties (17 walks against 21 walks to left-handers), but he struck out the exact same number of lefties and righties (58). Against right-handers, Komine's groundball-to-flyball tendencies reversed themselves, as he induced 83 fly-outs against 76 ground-outs.

Komine's effectiveness against left-handed hitters may be a result of his outstanding curveball, which is a little harder for lefties to pick up coming out of Komine's hand than it is for right-handed hitters. Barry Zito has had similar "reverse" splits during his pitching career, as his curveball has often been more effective against right-handers even though he is a left-handed pitcher.

Consistent and Durable

Despite missing half of the 2004 and 2005 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery, Komine demonstrated this season that he can be a consistent and durable starter. He didn't miss a start due to injury all season and he logged a career-high 140 innings at the minor league level and tacked on nine more innings at the big league level. For Sacramento, Komine lasted at least five innings in all but one of his 22 starts and he went six innings or more in 13 of those starts. He had the only nine inning complete game on the River Cats' staff this season and he also had an eight inning gem.

Because of his size (5'9'', 175) and his injury history, scouts have always questioned whether Komine has the durability to be a starting pitcher. With his performance in 2006, he likely answered a lot of questions about whether or not he could handle the starting pitching role.

Conclusion

There is a lot to like about Komine's future as a major league pitcher. He has excellent control, has shown that he can pitch into the late innings and doesn't give up a lot of homeruns. His initial foray into the big leagues showed some nerves on his part, but if he can put those nerves aside and pitch with the consistency that he did for Sacramento from June 25 through the rest of the 2006 season, he will have an excellent shot at challenging for the A's fifth starter spot this spring. He may also get a long look as a middle reliever.


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