Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guerrier Opportunities

I don't know if I'd call $12M / 3 years "minimum wage". But it is turning out to be "maximum comedy", at least the last four outings.

Last night's Post-Game Thread had an interesting comment from Fred's Brim that got me thinking about Matt Guerrier's performance this year. Heading over to baseball-reference.com over lunch, here's what I found about Matty G:

  • Guerrier has had 33 appearances for the Dodgers this year. In the first nine appearances, totalling 10.2 innings, he didn't give up an earned run. But that tenth appearance was a doozy, going 1.2 innings and giving up 5 ER, both blowing the save and taking the loss.
  • From then on, in the 23 most recent appearances, he's given up ER on eight of those occasions, or almost 35% of the time. (Even if we include the first ten appearances, that's 27% of the time.) That compares unfavorably to almost all of the viable Dodgers relievers: Ramon Troncoso gave up ER in 3 of 9 appearances, or 33%; Blake Hawksworth, 6 of 19 or 31%; Kenley Jansen, 6 of 20 or 30%; Javy Guerra, 3 of 11 or 27%; Mike MacDougal, 5 of 29 or 17%; Josh Lindblom, 1 of 6 or 17%; Scott Elbert, 2 of 14 or 14%. Guerrier is still slightly ahead of yip-meister Hong-Chih Kuo, 4 of 9 or 44%; headcase Jonathan Broxton, 6 of 14 or 43%; and Borg-meister Lance Cormier, 7 of 9 or 78%.
  • Guerrier does have the most appearances of any of the relievers mentioned, true; and, we've got small sample size issues working against us. But considering that, of the viable comps, Kenley Jansen and Scott Elbert both have higher ERAs but lower probabilities of ceding ER, shouldn't they at least be considered instead of Guerrier (especially Elbert)?
  • Worse, Guerrier's most recent track record is worrisome; he's given up ER in four of his last four appearances, as well as six of his last 11 appearances. The trajectory is not good.

At the very least, this seems to indicate we may want to give Guerrier a little bit of a break. He's probably not the every-day reliever Don Mattingly has hoped he would be, so perhaps using him less regularly is a better option.


Jason said...

I'm what Dusty would refer to as a stat-licker so, if that annoys you, skip this comment.

I think the inherited runners stranded rate is more useful with bullpen comparisons, especially since it has no effect on the reliever's ERA (the replaced pitcher takes the hit).

Guerrier has inherited 17 runners over 9 appearances. He has allowed 7 to score (including the last 3 inherited runners over his last two outings). This gives him a strand rate of 59%. His last three seasons, he has recorded strand rates of 78%, 76% and 78% along with his career rate of 71%. That is not good.

What kind of sticks out about his peripheral stats is how many more balls are being hit in the air (and, turned into a single out) compared to his career average. This, combined with his career-high walk rate make him an unlikely pitcher to induce a double play ground-out (only 2 of 33 possible double plays occurred).

Oddly enough, MacDougal might be the best pitcher currently in the bullpen for those types of situations (other than his ridiculous walk rate). He induces ground balls like some weird, wild, sinker ball throwing machine.

Regardless, Guerrier is throwing strikes at exactly his career rate (which is remarkably consistent). His walk rate is at a career high partially because he is having all kinds of trouble getting that first pitch over for a strike so he is pitching from behind nearly half the time.

Personal guess as to the cause of him picking at the outside of the strike zone: a combination of changing leagues (and not having a clear plan of attack for most hitters) and the fact that he is facing more left-handed hitters than he ever has which is making him uncomfortable. He is just being timid and trying to pitch away from contact which is not something he seems to excel at.

Suggested solution: improved in-game planning in the dugout signaled into the catcher to alleviate the unfamiliarity (come on, Honeycutt) and better platoon planning (get another lefty in bullpen, Ned). In theory, Guerrier is better than he has shown, his BABip is a little high (which should begin reverting to the mean), and, despite all the fly balls, he is not giving up home runs.

Bring him in to face the toughest opposing right handed hitters, preferably at the beginning of an inning. Do not summon him to face a patient left-handed hitter with men on base and less than two outs. At least not right now.


Jason said...


Nostradamus said...

As I am, at the very least, a stat-lick sympathizer, the inherited-runner responsibility makes me crazy.

Steve Sax said...

Jason: nice work!

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

Joe Beimel allowed a third of his inherited runners to score in 2008, but because he had a sterling ERA, everyone loved him.

Nostradamus said...

If we won as many games as we did in 2008, I wouldn't complain about Guhrear, either.

MR.F said...

That's hot, Jason.

Josh S. said...

This team can win 84 games, Mr. C.

Yes, sadly, that's all it took to win the division in '08.

Nostradamus said...

(even more sadly)

Can it, though?

Josh S. said...

Shit. I forgot how far along we were. They'd have to go 53-41.


Nostradamus said...

They'll have to play 12 games over 500 the rest of the way just to get to 84.

If the current ratio of wins and losses holds, they'll finish with 74.

Nostradamus said...

Josh is several seconds faster at math than I.

Josh S. said...

Yeah, but I didn't do ratios.

Or show my work.

Nostradamus said...

I never show my work.

State secrets, yo.

spank said...

I would love to stat-lick Jennifer Connelly.