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Monday Rockpile: OK, Enough Guthrie Already

In Play, Run(s)
In Play, Run(s)

Jeremy Guthrie has been absolutely awful for the 2012 Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies traded away Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom for Guthrie this past offseason, it looked to be at best a lateral move. Hammel had seemingly lost his fastball, the Rockies had just acquired like 7 young pitchers who could pitch in the rotation or end up in the bullpen thereby making Lindstrom expensive and expendable, and Guthrie had 5 straight seasons of at least 175IP, the past 3 being over 200IP - something the Rockies were sorely lacking.

Fast-forward to today, and Guthrie is coming off a 3IP, 4ER performance, while Jason Hammel 1-hit the Braves in a complete-game shutout the night before. Matt Lindstrom has a 1.29 ERA with Baltimore in his 14 innings of work.

Buster Olney is reporting that the Rockies are looking to move Guthrie right now. Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi have reported that the Toronto Blue Jays have been willing to trade a AA 1B named Mike McDade for Guthrie while taking on the ~$5M remaining on Guthrie's contract.

Hindsight being 20/20, this trade was obviously a mistake. Leading into it, we thought the Rockies had acquired a class act (which he still is) rotation workhorse who might not put up ACE NUMBERS but would very likely give us 175-200 innings of "meh" baseball. Now, he's given us a couple of decent starts: Opening Day in Houston was pretty decent, as was April 22nd vs Milwaukee. That's really about all that I can say to Guthrie's defense. Well, that and he's still a class act, a nice guy, and owns up to how crappily he has pitched for Colorado.

No bones about it, it's been crappy. Thus far in 2012, Guthrie is posting the worst strikeouts-per-9-innings rate of his entire career, the worst walk rate in a 50+ IP season, by a LONG shot the worst HR rate, the worst BABIP (again, 50IP+), the worst HR/FB%, the worst FIP, xFIP, SIERA, tERA, ERA, everything.

Something still seems fishy about this to me. Not in the sense that someone pulled a bait-and-switch or anything of that nature, but we're not talking about trying to point at a bad BABIP to explain a slightly higher-than-normal ERA. We're looking at a complete collapse of a generally solid MLB pitcher. Guthrie claims to be healthy, which may or may not mean anything. We DO know that throwing strikes has been a problem this season. For his career, Guthrie throws about 1.7 strikes per ball. Not a GREAT ratio, but his ratio dropped by nearly .2 strikes per ball in 2012 as compared to his career mark (1.5 strikes per ball). To put it another way, for his career, 62.5% of Guthrie's pitches have been strikes, 37.5% balls. 2012: 60% strikes, 40% balls.

This might not seem like that drastic of a shift, but it's showing so far this season. For his career, Guthrie has averaged about 6 1/3 innings per start, averaging 101 pitches per start. 2012 starts are averaging 97 pitches per start (not that big of a dropoff) but his average Rockies start is 5 1/3 innings. The pitch counts haven't changed that much, but he's losing a full inning of work by wasting so many non-strike pitches.

Off Topic

So now that we've found a complete ton of numbers to illustrate Guthrie's problems, the question now is what do we do with him? Colorado mercifully has Monday off, and begin a stretch of 20 straight games leading up to the All Star Break. Removing Guthrie from the rotation means the Rockies HAVE to find a new pitcher to take that slot.

Drew Pomeranz is doing a lot of things right with the Sky Sox, boasting a 3.06 ERA over 7 starts, punching out 34 to only 13 walks and 2 HR. The downside is that Pomeranz has only managed 35 innings through those 7 starts - not the bullpen-saving length we'd need.

Tyler Chatwood has made 8 starts and only accumulated 32 innings, and also has a 6.34 ERA. Chatwood's doing a good job of keeping the ball in the park and has struck out 27 batters in those 32 innings, but those ERA and IP/GS numbers aren't going to get better in the majors.

Rob Scahill is posting some nice strikeout numbers (77K in 69 innings) but is averaging UNDER 5IP/GS.

Guillermo Moscoso pitched 2 solid innings in relief of Guthrie and has some filthy strikeout numbers of his own, but he's still incredibly hittable and walks far too many guys to really get length out of his starts.

If the Rockies got desperate enough, they might look down in AA Tulsa at Edwar Cabrera, Nick Schmidt, Dan Houston, or Parker Frazier. For what it's worth, the Drillers have a 5-game lead on their division, thanks in large part to the strength of their rotation.

If the Rockies wanted to get REALLY creative, they could look to the Free Agent market at guys like Jon Garland, Justin Duchscherer, Scott Kazmir, Noah Lowry, Scott Olsen, Joel Pineiro, JoJo Reyes, Ben Sheets, Carlos Silva, Jeff Suppan, Josh Towers (oh right we tried that), Javier Vazquez... you get the idea. If we can't call somebody up, why not get creative? (NOTE: I DO NOT ACTUALLY ENDORSE THE ACQUISITION OF ANY OF THESE PITCHERS.)

So, in conclusion, if that game was the last we see of Jeremy Guthrie in the Rockies' rotation, I think the team will be better for having done it. I wish the guy no ill will, as everything he said and did outside of actually pitching makes it harder to want him gone (I mean come on, he invited a cancer survivor to play catch with him at Coors, albeit by accident), but he's really hurting the team more than he is helping.

Sorry, dude. Good luck elsewhere.