We covered Qualls for our trade deadline series, and surprisingly, little has changed since the time we published our thoughts:
6. Chad Qualls - RP
Rest of Season Salary: $2.1M
Rest of Season Projection: 3.52 FIP, 38 IP
Contract Status: Free agent after season.
Notes: That 8.46 ERA might fool you, but Qualls has pitched well this season. He's striking out batters at a career high rate (9.27 K/9) and generating an extreme amount of groundballs (53.8%), but he's been hurt by balls in play (.474 BABIP!!), with letting runners on base score (51.3% LOB%), and with the homerun ball (15.8% HR/FB). He's walking more batters now than ever before in his career (4 BB/9), but that's projected to lower along with his strikeout numbers as the season progresses. In short, he's a damn good pitcher that's getting hosed by luck, and some team is going to be smart enough to pick him up for pennies on the dollar. Here's hoping it's the Rays.
There comes a time, though, when you have to wonder if there's more to a .400 BABIP than just bad luck. Qualls has been struggling with his mechanics this season and it could be that they're a factor in his poor results. His strikeout rates have dropped down into more realistic ranges for him (8.23 K/9) but he's still walking a career high 3.86 batters per nine. He can have flashes of brilliance, but it seems like he's missing with more of his pitches and could quite possibly be missing over the heart of the plate too. I think it's a long-shot that the Rays acquire him at this rate, but you never know - it's a long week.