Results tagged ‘ Troy Patton ’
What are the Orioles’ plans for him?
I have no idea. After a fairly good 2010 season as a starting pitcher in Norfolk recovering from an injury, Patton began 2011 in Norfolk pitching relief. At the time, we thought that Patton was being groomed as a relief pitcher. However, the Tides used Patton very erratically — he would be used one game as a left-handed one-out relief pitcher, then two days later used to make a spot start. That would argue that he had completely fallen out of the Orioles’ plans — except then he was called up to Baltimore in mid-July and stayed with the Orioles the rest of the season, pitching effectively out of the bullpen. But he wasn’t a one-out lefty specialist; he pitched 30 innings in 20 games. He pretty obviously was used in low-leverage situations and pitched effectively. The logical plan would be to see if he could be more effective in a higher-leverage role, say as a seventh-inning middle reliever. I don’t think he has the stuff to be an effective set-up man or closer, and he’s too good to be pigeonholed as a lefty specialist.
If I were running the Orioles, I’d keep trying to develop Patton as a starting pitcher. It’s true that he hasn’t been extremely effective as a starting pitcher, but he has been reasonably effective and has survived a full year in the rotation. It’s pretty obvious that the Orioles have a problem with their starting pitching. Why gamble on retreads like Chris Jakubauskas or Alfredo Simon and turn Patton into a middle reliever?It makes no sense; not that there’s been any evidence that the Orioles know what they’re doing.
Is he still a prospect? Hasn’t he been around since the Clinton Administration?
It seems that way, doesn’t it? But Patton only turned 25 at the end of the season. He was drafted out of high school and pitched very well at age 19, with a 2.18 ERA at two levels of A-ball. That got him on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list, and he stayed on it for the next two seasons while he pitched fairly well. Then he blew out his elbow, and missed the 2008 season as he underwent surgery. He’s spent the last two years — well, not exactly rehabbing, but trying to get back to where he was. He’s still a prospect; probably in the C/C+ range.
Is he a candidate for the Orioles 2011 rotation?
The good news is that in 2010 Patton stayed healthy and in the rotation all year; he made 25 starts, 136 innings. That’s good for seventeenth in the IL, and impressive when you consider that he spent some time as a bullpen arm in Baltimore. On the other hand, Patton didn’t strike out a lot of batters; lots of balls were put into play. When he was on or had a good defense or was lucky, he was effective. When we was off or didn’t have a good defense or was unlucky, he was very ineffective. At this point, he hasn’t shown me that he’s going to be good enough to be a rotation starter.
The Orioles’ rotation is just as muddled now as it was at the start of 2010. Assuming Kevin Millwood is gone, the rotation right now would include Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, and Brad Bergesen. The Orioles have been talking about adding a veteran rotation starter, but even if they don’t, Zach Britton and Chris Tillman would probably get the call ahead of Patton. However, if some of the candidates flame out, I can see the Orioles turning to Patton more or less out of desperation. If they do, and Patton is in a low-pressure, low-expectation mode, I wouldn’t be shocked if he put together a decent year.
For pitchers, success tends to breed success. If Patton does have a decent year in the rotation, there’s no reason why he couldn’t have a Bruce Chen-like career. And before you snicker, Bruce Chen went 12-7 with a 101 ERA+ for Kansas City in 2010.
I hate the concept of “Three True Outcomes.”
That’s one of the latest trends in baseball analysis. The idea is that only walks, strikeouts, and home runs are “true” measures of pitchers and hitters; all other results are “polluted” to some degree by the defense. The implication is that “hitting ‘em where they ain’t” and getting batters to hit lazy flies and routine grounders aren’t skills; it’s just a matter of luck. Tell that to Tony Gwynn.
That’s not to say that sometimes pitching lines can’t be deceiving. Take Troy Patton’s start for the Tides against Rochester May 22. On the surface, it looks pretty terrible:
4.1 13 8 8 0 0 0 Game Score: 5
(That’s innings pitched, hits allowed, runs allowed, earned runs allowed, walks, strikeouts, and home runs. I had been assuming that everyone reading this would know that, but maybe not.)
Looking at that line in a box score, you might think that Patton was being hammered; that he was throwing lollipops up there and the Red Wings were knocking his pitches all over Harbor Park. But those of us at the game know differently:
· In the first inning, Matt Tolbert dropped a bunt down the third base line that stubbornly refused to go foul.
· In the third inning, Toby Gardenhire lined a double that landed fair, within a foot of the left-field foul line. He came around to score.
· Later in the third inning, Brian Dinkelman lined a double down the right-field line that also landed just fair. He, too, came around to score.
· Gardenhire led off the fifth inning with a single over the third-base bag; he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
· The next batter, Jason Repko, grounded a double just fair over the third-base bag. He came around to score on …
· A double by Matt Tolbert that stayed just fair down the left-field line. Tolbert scored on …
· A single by Dinkelman; a soft line drive that fell just between the shortstop and left fielder. Dinkelman later scored.
· The last hit Patton gave up, before being relieved, was another flare to left field, this one by Dustin Martin.
That’s eight of the hits off Patton that, with just a little bit of luck, (just a little bit of luck) could have gone foul or been caught. I’m sure the batters’ timing isn’t so perfect that they couldn’t have made contact a fraction of a fraction earlier, and driven the balls down the lines foul. And I’m sure that the their eyesight isn’t so perfect that they couldn’t have hit the ball a millimeter higher or lower, and the flares could have been easily caught.
Fans want to simplify baseball. Casual or beginning fans will look at Troy Patton’s line and think he’s terrible. The number-crunching fans will look at his line and see no walks, no strikeouts, and no home runs, and smugly conclude that he was a victim of bad defense or bad luck. As always, the truth is somewhere in between; although in this case the stats geeks would be closer to the truth.
After an eight-game trip to Charlotte and Gwinnett, the Tides returned home Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (May 1,2,3) to face the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. In all three games, the starting pitching ranked from the solid to the outstanding. I thought I’d review and comment on all six starters:
May 1 — Scranton — Romulo Sanchez — 7 6 2 1 1 8 (Game Score 66) (Losing Pitcher)
Romulo Sanchez brings heat. The Harbor Park radar gun was consistently in the 97, 98 range for his fastballs, and he simply overpowered the batter in a few at-bats. He obviously had good control, with only one walk. He seems to have stamina — in his last inning, he gave up an unearned run on a two-base throwing error and a single, but he struck out two batters. But there doesn’t appear to be much movement or deception on his pitches — the Tides hit several balls hard both for base hits and for outs.
Sanchez is 26, and pitched 26 games in relief for the Pirates in 2007-08. He’s spent most of his time in the minors as a relief pitcher also; it’s hard to tell whether he’s starting this season because the Yankees think he can be a starter or because there’s nobody else to do it. I don’t think he’s got much of a future as a major league pitcher, but if he gets a job, he could deliver one good year out of a bullpen.
May 1 — Norfolk — Troy Patton — 7 5 1 1 0 4 (Game Score 67) (Winning Pitcher)
While less overpowering than Sanchez, Troy Patton was more effective and equally impressive. He moved his pitches around the strike zone and induced routine grounders and flies. The only run allowed came on a Juan Miranda home run, although he was saved by a spectacular tag at the plate to turn a potential sacrifice fly into an inning-ending double play. Aside from those innings, Patton was not threatened and stranded only two runners.
Patton has dominated every level up to AAA; he has struggled at AAA. However, he’s pitched better in his last three starts and may be fully recovered from his Tommy John surgery. If he has, and he is able to maintain his command, he should have at least a Paul Maholm-like career; Ted Lilly may be his upside.
I’ll discuss the remaining pitchers in future posts.
The Tides are home for a four-game series against the Gwinnett Braves; I’ll be datacasting tonight’s game and BIS-sing Wednesday’s game. Jake Arrieta is scheduled to start for the Tides tonight, and Troy Patton is likely to start Wednesday. That means that again I miss Alfredo Simon, probably the least interesting of the rotation starters.
Bill James once wrote that a certain pitcher was his “draw” — if you attend twenty games a season, you’ll see the same starting pitcher in fifteen of them. My missing Alfredo Simon got me wondering who my draw will be. I looked at 2009 to get a sense of the possibilities.
I saw 47 Norfolk Tides games in 2009. That’s just under 1/3 of the games the Tides played — 33.0% to be somewhat precise. So, I should see about 1/3 of each Tides’ starting pitchers’ starts. There were fifteen pitchers who started a game for the Tides in 2009, and the table below lists whom I saw.
|Pitcher||Total Starts||Starts I Saw||Percent
(Normal would be 33.0)
Hmm. Throwing out the pitchers who made fewer than five starts (for example, the two starts I saw Livingston make were on the same homestand; he was quickly sent out afterward), it doesn’t look like I saw anybody substantially more than expected. However, I had the fortune — I don’t know if it was good or bad — to miss all of Troy Patton’s starts. It’s as if Gary Allenson found out the games I’d be working, and adjust the rotation so I’d miss Patton.
This season, I’ve seen Patton make his only home start so far, and will see him again this homestand.