Sorry I’ve been away so long, everybody. Finals were killer this year, and on my first few days of vacation I was only able to get a few minutes of internet per day. I’ve received a few requests for Blue Jays starting pitcher Dustin McGowan, so let’s use today to take a look at him.
|YEAR||AGE||LAST||FIRST||TEAM||LG||G||GS||IP||ERA||LIPS ERA||WHIP||DIPS WHIP||K/9||BB/9||K/BB||xGB%||LOB%||BABIP||HR/FB||LD%|
Note: Minor league stats came from Jeff Sackmann’s excellent website MinorLeagueSplits.com.
*For minor league numbers, straight ground ball rate is given instead of expected ground ball rate.
Right off the bat, I’m going to call McGowan’s breakout for real. Look at the improvement in his control. He went from walking over 5 batters per game between Triple A and the Majors in 2006 to walking a little over 3 per game in 2007, improving from the first-half to the second and again over the final two months.
The above-average strikeout rate has always been there, and complementing it with improved control makes McGowan a solid pitcher. His ground ball rates aren’t quite in the Francisco Liriano/Felix Hernandez range, but they are well-above average and give McGowan an extra advantage over most power pitchers.
The best news of all? Over the final two months, his peripherals got even better as he posted an 8.79 K/9 and a 2.72 BB/9.
This is the same setup used for Felix Hernandez’s profile, except I’ve thrown in BIP/SWG. This measures the number of balls in play the pitcher allowed per batter swing, the lower the better. I’ve also changed the name of SWG/BALL to SS/BALL. It still measures the same thing, swinging strike to ball ratio, but distinguishes it from BIP/SWG.
Again, I haven’t done a lot of research with these numbers (although I plan on it in the coming weeks), but this data is just too interesting to ignore.
Percentage of Total Pitches Recorded by Pitch f/x — 68%
Percentage of Total Pitches Recorded by Pitch f/x — 44%
As you can see, McGowan has a very powerful arsenal working for him.
His fastball is right around average in nearly every category, despite the fact that it clocked in at over 96 MPH on average. That’s second only to Ubaldo Jimenez among starters who threw at least 100 heaters while Pitch f/x was watching. While the fastball itself is only average, it’s likely that it is a big factor in McGowan’s above-average changeup. He gets a lot of swings and misses on the change while showing decent command.
McGowan’s best offerings, though, are his curve and slider. Both are significantly above average in each of the most important categories (which, right now, I’m considering SS/BALL, SWG/BIP, SS%, BALL% as such), with the exception of the curve’s Ball Percentage, which is right around average. His curve is his best pitch, ranking second in baseball in Swinging Strike Percentage, third in Swinging Strikes per Ball, and third in BIP per Swing (among starters with at least 100 thrown).
The only thing we could say negative about McGowan’s Pitch f/x data is that he doesn’t have great control over certain pitches and that his cutter isn’t very good. As I said last time, I’m not an expert on batter/pitcher dynamics and how pitches interact, but in a vacuum, the cutter appears to be a poor pitch.
One last thing I wanted to check with McGowan is the monthly breakdown of his tracked pitches. I thought maybe he looked so good because the majority of his pitches were taken from August and September, when his peripherals were so good.
|PITCHER||PITCHES||% OF TOTAL||MONTH|
The majority of the pitches were from the second-half (59%), and 47% were from the final two-months. Still, our projection of McGowan should look much more like his second-half than first, so I think this exercise was worthwhile. This very nice repertoire makes me even more confident than McGowan could be primed for a second, even larger breakout in 2008.
Blue Jays defense
|TEAM||+/-||RK||RZR||RK||OOZ||RK||IF RZR||RK||IF OOZ||RK||OF RZR||RK||OF OOZ||RK||BABIP|
|POS||LAST||FIRST||INNINGS||RZR||LG AVG||OOZ||OOZ/(BIZ+OOZ)||LG AVG|
McGowan’s .276 BABIP looks low out of context, but this amazing Blue Jay defense probably contributed a decent bit to it. The BABIP is still too low, but combine McGowan’s solid skills with this excellent defense, and a better than average BABIP should be no surprise.
The addition of David Eckstein [.783 RZR, .135 OOZ/(BIZ+OOZ)] will significantly hurt the defense next year. He’ll be taking John McDonald‘s spot, and he was actually worse than McDonald’s primary backup, Royce Clayton, in 2007. Unless a trade is made, we might not see much of Adam Lind in 2008 with Reed Johnson and Matt Stairs (below average with both the glove and range in LF in 2007) the top candidates for left, although Stairs could also play some first. Regardless, unless Lind plays as much as he did last year the defense will probably suffer a bit.
The rest of the diamond figures to remain relatively unchanged, but I think it’s safe to say that the Jays’ defense will be worse in 2008. A BABIP around .295 looks about right for McGowan.
I definitely think McGowan is primed to take another step forward in 2008. He was once a big-time prospect, and at the age of 26 seems to be living up to that billing.
I could certainly see his K/9 jumping above 8.00, but we’ll put his average expectation down for 7.90. If he ever gets the BB/9 to around 2.50 with a K/9 over 8.00 he could be a beast, but for 2008 let’s put that walk rate down at 3.20. The ground ball rate should again be around 50%.
Put all of this together, and we could expect an ERA in the 3.85-3.90 range and a WHIP around 1.30. Given a reasonable jump to 190 innings pitched (and with a 7.90 K/9), McGowan would finish with a helpful 167 strikeouts. I could see the offense being a little better with the addition of Eckstein, and 13 wins should be reachable.
McGowan is a guy who I think a lot of guys might peg as a sleeper, but because he gets so much “under the table” hype, he actually becomes overvalued. That ProTrade rank, which is determined by actual players and not writers, really scares me. I like McGowan a lot and think he could be an excellent player in 2008, but the chance is definitely there to lose value if you have to reach for him.
Watch him closely, and if the rest of your league is following the mindset of CBS, the Fantasy Man, and the like, you could have a steal on your hands.
I won’t be posting tomorrow or the next day, but I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. If you’re traveling, be safe.
I’ll be back after the holiday with some cool stuff planned, so be on the lookout.