Loaiza as surprised as anyone by start

Updated: June 26, 2003, 8:42 AM ET
By Jim Baker
With the All-Star game scheduled for New Comiskey Park and Esteban Loaiza leading the American League in ERA, it stands to reason that he will be selected to start the game. It has been over 40 years since a White Sox pitcher started an All-Star Game but that drought may come to an end this year with the emergence of Loaiza. Early Wynn started one of 1959's two games for the American League. The notion of him as an All-Star was a far-fetched one prior to the season, but that was before he changed his approach. "He always has been in the [strike] zone," his manager, Jerry Manuel told Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune. "Now he trusts another off-speed pitch. & I guess that's the formula." Greenstein writes that Manuel "attributes the improvement to (his) use of two off-speed pitches: the cut fastball and the changeup."

Whatever the reason, it has come as quite a surprise to Loaiza himself, a pitcher who could usually be counted on to post an ERA higher than the league average throughout his eight-year career. "It has been unbelievable for me, the way I've been pitching," he said. Loaiza always had decent control, but he is now striking out many more batters than he did previously.

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.