Injuries and overall terribleness have plagued 2013 Toronto Blue Jays pitchers, and as a result, many different AAA pitchers have had their chance to get major league starts. Unfortunately, out of all the pitchers to make spot starts, only Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers have shown any signs of success. With Rogers obviously capable of being a major league reliever when not filling in for injured starters, the question arises about Todd Redmond: Is he playing above his head, or is the success he has had in 2013 real; can we expect this from his for now on? It’s been bothering me the past couple of weeks, so I decided to look into it.Using some of his stats and Pitch F/X numbers I try to determine if we can predict what he truly is.
The most basic way to tell how a pitcher(in this case Redmond) is doing/will do is his strikeout and walk rates. Although Redmond’s ERA wasn’t impressive at the minor league level this season, his K% and BB% were, just like they have been in his 63.2 innings major league sample. Redmond has always been a strike thrower throughout his career,and it showed this season as he has had an excellent 24.8 k%, and an above average 7.1 BB%. Scouts have always praised this aspect of his game, and it definitely is a major reason for his ‘success’ thus far in 2013.
Next, lets take a look at his batted ball rates.
This is where it gets interesting. Redmond’s quad slash batted ball line(LD%/GB%/FB%/IFFB%) is 20.1%/31.0%/48.9%/15.3%. His LD% is basically league average. With his ability to throw strikes and not put runners on base, a league average LD% is huge for Redmond. Simply put, when balls aren’t hit hard , your fielders have a better chance of getting to them to make the plays.From the low ground ball rate and high fly ball rate, we see that just as he has been his entire career, Redmond is still a fly ball type pitcher, which in turn, leads to his downfall which I will discuss later in this post. His BABIP is .267, basically 25 points or so below the yearly average, so there is some predictive regression in that regard coming for Redmond. Using an ERA estimator that deals with batted ball rates can give us a look of where Redmond really is this season. This of course is SIERA. Redmond’s 2013 SIERA is 3.52, a really good mark considering that he has been a career minor leaguer up until this point of his career.
Thirdly, let’s see what his velocity has been like. Because Redmond has been in the minors most of his career, we only have a 3 inning sample from 2012 to compare his 2013 velocity, so, take it with a grain of salt. His 4 Seam fastball velocity has improved by 0.9 MPH this season up from 89.3 to 90.2, not a huge jump, but still one that could be a reason for some of his success. All of his pitches have been thrown faster in 2013 than they were in 2013, from his 4 seamer, to his curveball, to his change-up, and everything in between.
Now, to his biggest downfall that has plagued him throughout his minor league career and has been the lone problem in his brief major league stint. Home runs. Redmond, as a fly ball pitcher, is always going to have trouble keeping the ball in the park. His HR/9 has consistently been above 1.0/9 in the minors, and in 2013 with the Blue Jays it sits at 1.41/9. His HR/FB% of 11.8 is right up there between poor and awful according to the FanGraphs standards. Looking at his Pitch F/X info for this year, he isn’t necessarily leaving pitches up in the zone, or even in the middle of the plate when they are being hit for home runs. They are low in the zone or out of the zone altogether. It’s just when you have a 90 MPH fastball, and little movement on it, it is going to be hit and hit far.
So, is Todd Redmond’s 2013 a good judge of his true talent level, or is he just getting lucky that there aren’t runners on base when he gives up home runs? Is Todd Redmond a 5th-6th starter, or is he just a AAAA pitcher? No pitcher can have continued success while giving up 1.41 home runs per 9 IP, but if there is a type of pitcher who would be able to, it is Redmond. If batters are hitting home runs, it is much easier to survive when runners aren’t on base. This is why Redmond, with his great control, is able to have this brief success. But, unfortunately, it will likely not last. Runners find their way onto the bases, whether it be from walks or hits. A pitcher cannot just allow batters to hit home runs and have success.
Redmond has definitely pitched well in his 63 innings this year, and has opened up some eyes, but I think it would be foolish to assume he can sustain this over an entire season in the majors given that he is a flyball pitcher who gives up a lot of home runs. If he was on Oakland or a team that played 50% of its games in a big roomy park, it might be a different story, but in the launching pad parks of the AL East, which includes the Rogers Centre, Todd Redmond will have a hard time establishing himself as an everyday major league starter, and instead, continue being labelled as a Quad-A pitcher.