Nobody is expecting Brandon Beachy to start 32 games in 2016 for a Major League club, especially after his long-standing injury history and short track record in the big leagues before that. Durability and consistency aren't attributes that have thus far been associated with the right-handed pitcher; Beachy falls just on this side of James Shields and Felix Hernandez in that department.
But the Colorado Rockies, who are ostensibly in the business of winning games, aren't yet in the position to attract a pitcher anywhere near the caliber of Shields, or Hernandez, or any other every-fifth-day veteran stud. For that reason, Beachy — cheap as hell, maybe a diamond in the rough for a pittance — is an attractive candidate upon which the club may wish to take the proverbial flyer.
Scouting Brandon Beachy
There's not much to scout. After reaching the big leagues six years ago, Beachy has started just 48 games at baseball's highest level, and it has nothing to do with effectiveness. The injury bug has bit particularly hard (and repeatedly), leaving the Indiana Wesleyan University product to start just seven big league games over the past three years.
Elbow reconstruction surgeries in both 2012 and 2014, and an oblique injury in 2011, have limited the righty to only 275 career Major League innings despite being effective when healthy. Here are his career stats, split between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers from 2010-15, and a line for 2011 — the only season where Beachy was healthy for a significant portion of time:
|Career (5 yrs)||48-48||275.2||227||119||103||92||28||280||14-12||3.36||3.41||1.157||116||7.4||0.9||3.0||9.1||3.04|
Besides those 25 starts in 2011, Beachy has started just three games (2010), 13 games (2012), five games (2013), and two games (2015).
Besides health and durability concerns — which are significant — there's still a lot to love about Beachy's stuff. He misses a lot of bats, keeps his walks down (especially for a strikeout pitcher), has proven difficult to hit, and doesn't allow home runs.
Looking deeper at his stats via FanGraphs, there are some concerns about Beachy beyond injuries and small sample sizes. He's a pretty extreme fly ball pitcher, earning just a 36.8% ground ball rate and a 0.86 ground ball to fly ball ratio over his career, and he doesn't get soft contact (just 17.8%). Couple that with a pedestrian fastball (89.1 mph in 2015, decreased more than two miles an hour since 2011), and there are reasons to be hesitant about Beachy.
Here is Beachy on film, first in 2012 (apologies as always for the random YouTube music):
And a video on Beachy's mechanics from 2013 (in between his two elbow surgeries):
Take pitching mechanics videos on YouTube with a grain of salt, of course — especially considering this video came before Beachy's second elbow reconstruction surgery and rehab — but it's an interesting look at the pitcher.
The case for the Rockies to pursue Brandon Beachy
There's something to be said for taking a chance on a guy who may give you a few good starts when he's going to come cheap. The Dodgers did it in 2015 with Beachy; he only made two starts for them, but the Dodgers gave him less than $3 million, which for L.A. is, like, fifteen cents! The Padres have tried this with Josh Johnson (and failed), and the Braves are currently doing this (in a different way, via the Rule 5 Draft) with former Rockies' farmhand Daniel Winkler.
Beachy threw 56 innings over 13 games (12 starts) between Los Angeles and the minor leagues in 2015, and while that's not a workhorse line, it at least gives him a little momentum heading into 2016 instead of having a team take a chance on him sight unseen after injury. Considering he'll command less than the $2.75 million he earned in 2015, the Rockies can throw Beachy a pittance, get a few (or maybe many!) starts out of him, and maybe find themselves with a buy-low guy to re-sign after 2016.
While the sample size is tiny, Beachy's track record is as bona fide as it can be less than 300 innings into a big league career; there's no reason to expect an outrageous performance decline assuming he's healthy enough and the Rockies are patient enough to give him the chance to work his way back into a rotation. (You know, even when accounting for a slight decline with Coors Field, blah, blah, blah.)
The case against Brandon Beachy
Injuries, man. How would you feel about taking a chance on a guy — even for just a million bucks, or something — who's made only seven Major League starts over the last three seasons? Hell, including his minor league numbers, Beachy has thrown just 126 innings over the past three seasons combined. That's a red flag!
He won't derail the Rockies' plans for contention beyond 2016, but a wasted season would be unfortunate. (Not for nothing, another year filled by injury may be the kiss of death for Beachy's career, as he'll be 30 before the 2016 season ends.)
Brandon Beachy's fit with the Rockies
As you've probably figured out by my work over the past couple months, I'm a huge proponent of underdogs and buy-low pitchers, a market in which Beachy currently resides. He'll come cheap — but probably a bit more expensive than a minor league contract with a non-roster Spring Training invite — and thus a lost season means the Rockies lose, what, somewhere around $2 million, give or take?
For a pitcher with the (small sample size!) track record of Beachy when healthy, I can stomach it, double elbow reconstructions and all. Bring it on! Et tu?