Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is Something Wrong With Jeremy Guthrie

Jeremy Guthrie pitched poorly in the World Baseball Classic; he pitched poorly in Spring Training; and he's not off to a particularly good start this season. I was expecting some regression based on his low BABIP the last couple of years, but nothing to this degree. So what's going on?

2007: 3.70
2008: 3.63
2009: 5.16

Well that's clearly not good, but it's only been 22.2 innings so far this year and ERA isn't a very good stat anyway.

2007: 4.41
2008: 4.53
2009: 5.93

Well that's clearly not good, but it's only been 22.2 innings so far this year.

2007: 6.3
2008: 5.7
2009: 4.8

As trends go, that is a really bad one. It's hard to really succeed in the majors with a 5.7 K/9. It's almost impossible to do it with a 4.8 K/9, unless you've got a lot of other things working in your favor.

2007: 2.4
2008: 2.7
2009: 4.0

And one of those things has to be good control. Jeremy has shown above-average control since he came to the Orioles, but he did have some issues with it before that (and it's one of the reasons Cleveland let him go).

2007: 1.18
2008: 1.13
2009: 1.59

At this rate, he'll give up 35 HR if he pitches 200 innings this year. That is just unacceptable, but I don't think it'll keep up.

2007: .277
2008: .267
2009: .316

Small sample size, but some regression was to be expected. Doesn't help that the defense has actually not played well thus far.

2007: 1.11
2008: 1.15
2009: 0.70

Guthrie's never really been a groundball pitcher, but he's giving up way more flyballs this year. That's why the home runs are up - his HR/FB has actually fallen from 11.2% to 10.5% to 10%, but he's giving up so many more balls in the air that some of them are finding their way over the fense. This is something that should get back to near his career averages sooner than later. And the home run rate should fall some along with it.

FB %, velocity, and movement:
2007: 67.8% (93.4 mph), -6.1 X, 10.4 Z
2008: 64.1% (93.2 mph), -5.0 X, 9.9 Z
2009: 55.9% (92.5 mph), -4.4 X, 10.0 Z

The X is the horizontal movement, and the Z is the vertical movement. Jeremy is using his fastball a lot less in 2009, and it has less run in on right-handed batters and has lost some velocity. Not a huge cause for concern yet, but the pitch has gone from having slightly below average movement to being relatively straight. Maybe Bergesen can teach him the two-seamer.

SL %, velocity, and movement:
2007: 22.4% (83.7 mph), 3.0 X, 1.2 Z
2008: 18.1% (84.3 mph), 3.3 X, 1.3 Z
2009: 19.0% (84.1 mph), 3.7 X, 1.2 Z

He's throwing the slider about as much as he did last year and it has some more bite to it, running away from right-handed batters. You'd think it would be a pretty good strike-out pitch for him.

CB %, velocity, and movement:
2007: 4.5% (74.9 mph), 5.9 X, -3.3 Z
2008: 6.3% (73.9 mph), 6.1 X, -4.8 Z
2009: 6.2% (74.9 mph), 4.8 X, -4.6 Z

His curveball has actually lost some movement, after getting sharper last year. Very small sample size though, so take all that with a grain of salt.

CH %, velocity, and movement:
2007: 5.3% (82.8 mph), -6.2 X, 7.2 Z
2008: 11.4% (84.9 mph), -5.2 X, 6.5 Z
2009: 18.6% (84.6 mph), -4.5 X, 6.6 Z

When I looked back at his 2008 season, I noted that Jeremy had used his change-up more, and that he had some success with it. Well he's going to it even more in '09, though I don't know how batters are fairing against it. It has seen a similar loss in movement to his fastball, and is likewise a relatively straight pitch.

O-Swing%, O-Contact%, Zone%
2007: 23.3%, 65.6%, 53.7%
2008: 26.6%, 65.9%, 50.9%
2009: 22.2%, 70.0%, 56.3%

Batters are swinging at pitches out of the zone less against Jeremy in 2009, though when they do they're making more contact. That's not good, but we're not looking at all that many pitches at this point. The percent of pitches in the zone is interesting; he's throwing more strikes, and yet his walk rate is way up. Batters are swinging at the same percentage of pitches in the zone as last year (65.5% in both) and actually making contact at a lower rate (88.6% vs. 89.8%). It seems that the extra walks are a bit flukey.

The ERA doesn't look good thus far, but it's early and I think things will turn around. The issues driving that high ERA (and FIP) are his walks and his home runs, and both of those things really shouldn't continue at near their current rates. I'm mildly concerned about the fastball movement and velocity, but he started out last year with a lower velocity for his first couple of starts before picking things up and he's already started doing that this year (his average FB vel. went up in each game). Maybe he could have used a little more work during the spring, and a FIP around 4.50 again going forward is pretty likely. Jeremy's not a #1 starter, but he's our #1 starter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious and too lazy to check this myself, but what do his numbers look like if you take out the last start and consider it a statistical outlier? I realize that may not be accurate with his performance in spring training and Boston. Basically, is he putting up the same nubmers in wins and losses?

Maybe he just got spoiled by having run support during his first three starts.