Herb G: A Tale of Two Pitchers


I’d like you to take a look at two different pitchers who are available to the Mets for 2014. Both are right handed. Neither has yet pitched an inning in the majors, but both are major league ready, and could conceivably be slotted into the rotation to start the season. First let’s look at a comparison of some of their career statistics, to date:

- - - - - - - Age - ERA - WHIP - K/9 - BB/9 - HR/9
Pitcher A: 25 - - 2.30 - 1.108 - - 8.5 - 1.9 - - 0.5
Pitcher B: 23 - - 2.51 - 1.016 - - 8.4 - 1.7 - - 0.4

On the surface they seem to look fairly similar. Perhaps their scouting reports could help you decide which, if either, should wind up on the Mets opening day roster.

Pitcher A
At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Pitcher A throws a low-90s fastball that can touch 96 mph. He has two secondary pitches, including a splitter with late downward action to keep hitters off his fastball. His low- to mid-80s slider is another plus weapon, while he’ll mix in a curveball as well. “He has good velocity, command and a great demeanor,” said a major league scout. “He has a great splitter, which would make a difference in the majors.” He has been projected as a Number 2 starter for most major league teams.

What he lacks in overpowering velocity, he makes up for with movement, location, and what the seasoned pros like to call pitchability. There is one concern about Pitcher A’s fastball — that it arrives on a flat plane, making it particularly hittable when it’s left up. This is in large part a consequence of his delivery, in which he drops down pretty far before release. He ends up with the release point of a shorter pitcher, so his fastball doesn’t feel like it’s being thrown downhill.

Another concern with Pitcher A is his heavy usage patterns of the past, which could be a factor that affects his future performance. At the tender age of 25, he has already exceeded 200 innings in 2 of his seasons, and he has exceeded 130 pitches in a number of his starts. This usage pattern has caused some to wonder if his arm has been subjected to excessive wear and tear, and thus could be subject to injury at some point in the next few years.

Pitcher B
He's not the biggest guy in the world, but there aren't concerns about durability. At 6’0", 170 pounds, scouts agree that Pitcher B needs to bulk up, but his durability hasn’t been called into question. At 23, he still has time to grow. He has a real feel for pitching, often pitching backwards with a hard slider and quality fading changeup, while mixing in a curveball every once in awhile. Pitcher B’s low-90s fastball doesn’t blow hitters away, but he uses late movement and impressive command to be effective. He can touch 95 mph with a ton of life. He can throw all of his pitches for strikes, which bodes well for his future as a member of a big league rotation soon.

According to one scout, “Pitcher B’s arsenal is solid with a fastball that sits 92-93 MPH and a slider that I really liked. It has a sharp two-plane break that is delivered at 86-87 MPH. He also throws a slightly slower slider at 83-84 MPH that doesn’t nearly have the tilt of his harder slider. I would grade out the change-up as average, although he’ll get swings and misses with the pitch as he can throw it for strikes. The arsenal has the profile of a number three or four starter but the plus command allows the entire package to play up and therefore puts his upside as a solid number three or even a two.”

* * * * * * * * *

Would it make any difference to you in deciding which pitcher to select, to know that Pitcher B would cost the Mets considerably less than Pitcher A? Have you been able to guess who each of these pitchers is yet? If not, here is the answer:



Pitcher A would most likely cost the Mets in excess of $100 million.

Pitcher B would cost about $500 K.

Pitcher A is Masahiro Tanaka, while Pitcher B is our own Rafael Montero.


Ernest Dove said...

I still know nothing about full projections/evaluations and the sweet science of analyzing a guys delivery.......
With that being said, I am basically a stats reading guy who still can't figure out why Rafael Montero is not generating more buzz and excitement. As far as I know, he is fully healthy, he already pitched in the God aweful PCL and held his own. And he's been kinda rushed through the system anyway (especially for a Met).
Let him start out right with the big club.

greg b said...

Herb i enjoy reading your articles keep it up. Your right and dont forget one guy is going to get 100 mil dollar contract and the other 500 thousand dollars and Montero might be the better pitcher.

Mack Ade said...

An excellent post.

Anonymous said...

Great article !

Anonymous said...

Herb excellent article as usuall. With it shows me is you must have a very good farm system because instead of paying tons of money on a player you can have a similar type player in your system for a minium salary.

Anonymous said...

Interesting.......especially since the Japanese League has been compared to AAAA (meaning the void between our AAAA and MLB). Their stats should correlate very closely, IMO.

Herb G said...

Ernest -

I too am old school, so I mostly rely on the stats I can easily understand. My motto has been "performance over potential". For that reason I have long been enamored with Montero, but I didn't think the organization showed him much love, primarily because he doesn't have the physical stature they look for in a pitcher. (For the perfect specimen, see Syndergaard) I went into this off season thinking they viewed him as expendable, and would use him in a trade to land an elite outfielder or shortstop. More and more, I get the idea that he is valued by Alderson, and that we will see him in Queens in 2014. The holdup seems to be the "super two" thing, which would keep him in the minors until June or so. Whenever it is, I am looking forward to his debut, because I believe he will be a key member of our rotation for many years.

Herb G said...

Thanks guys, for your nice comments. I enjoyed writing it as much as you did reading it.

What I found most interesting are the comments relating to his durability, which I was unaware until I started researching. Then today I see a post on MLBTradeRumors that also mentions his past workload and how the wear and tear might affect him in the coming years. To me, a 5 or 6 year contract for Tanaka will be an extremely risky proposition, even though he is only 25 years old.

Mack Ade said...

Herb -

I will be posting up some Steamer projections for Montero on Monday and his numbers are right up there with Thor.

Steamer projects Syndergaard with a 2.6 WAR; however, they have Montero with a 2.1.

These are very exciting projections from 'non-Mets' experts

Herb G said...

Mack -

When Harvey returns, this should be one hell of a rotation. Even without Harvey I think our group of starters could get us into the post season with decent run support. To quote The Pointer Sisters

I'm so excited, I just can't hide it.
I'm about to lose control, and I think I like it.

Mack Ade said...

Herb -

I expect Sandy to go into this season with a rotation that he hopes will get him to the all-star break... Wheeler, Colon, Niese, Gee, and Mejia.

No one is going to rush Thor, but they will bring Montero up if any of these five get injured or put up poor numbers.

Then... IMO... Colon will be shipped and Syndergaard will replae him after the all-star break.

The hopes are, if the team could hang in there for the first half of the season, you'll have a backend rotation of:

Wheeler, Niese, Gee, Montero, Syndergaard

Anonymous said...

And for Herb's sake, let's not forget Fulmer and Matz are coming up behind, and perhaps Ynoa and several others...the cavalry is coming and they're armed with rifles!!

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