I have to begin this post by mentioning that I’m really tired of losing to Philly in all sports. Sunday’s Giants game felt eerily the same as ’07 and ’08 felt.
And of course, the game took place the same week that Philly’s “other” sports team signed Cliff Lee. Is the season already over? No, not yet. But Pelfrey/Niese/Dickey just doesn’t quite measure up to Halladay/Lee/Hamels/Oswalt.
In my mind, the Mets need at least two more starting pitchers. Yes, Dillon Gee has promise, but even our top 3 guys are question marks and some stability is needed.
The rumor mill says the Mets are interested in both Jeff Francis and Chris Young. They are two once-established starters who have seen their careers derailed by the injury bug. I think the gut reaction of most Mets fans is that Young, as a pitcher who thrived in the Citi-Field-esque Petco Park is, health permitting, the better fit.
But, as Mets fans know all too well, you can have the greatest talent in the world, but it’s meaningless if you can’t stay healthy. So, is it possible to evaluate whether Francis or Young is more likely to succeed post-injuries?
Let’s take a look at a couple of different metrics. First, let’s compare Young and Francis’ velocity over the last few seasons: Young mainly throws a fastball, slider and change up and here is his average velocity for each pitch from 2007-2010:
Those are dramatic drops in the velocity for both his fastball and his slider. I’m not aware of any non-knuckleball throwing right handed pitchers who have success throwing as slow as Young was during his brief 2010 stint or even during 2009.
In contrast, here are Francis’ numbers, he throws mainly a fastball, curveball and change :
Francis appears to have retained most of his pre-injury velocity, if not yet the pre-injury results. At the very least, however, the above numbers have to give the Mets pause that injuries have caused a pretty dramatic deterioration in Young’s stuff.
There also may be more upside in getting Francis who has pitched his home games in a hitter’s park. To demonstrate, let’s look at Young and Francis’ home/road splits from 2007, the last season both guys were healthy, this time comparing their respective BABIPs, K’s per 9 innings and ERA:
|BABIP (home/away)||K/9 (home/away)||ERA (home/away)|
Young clearly shows an enormous home/road split. Francis less so on ERA, but that seems to be fueled by luck given his much lower BABIP and higher K/9. Young also has a really low BABIP, which, as a reminder, is a red flag for regression. And remember, this was a Chris Young who threw significantly harder.
I should also note that in 2010 Francis had a 5.00 ERA, but his SIERA was only 4.08. And, as I’ve written about previously, SIERA is an excellent predictor of next year’s ERA. Therefore, if both Young and Francis are options, I’d definitely go with Francis.
Like I said, however, I think the Mets really need two starters. Next time, I’ll look at the best of the rest.