The New Meche

DMZ · September 13, 2004 at 1:23 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Man, I switched over to the veggie dogs tonight from the Ivardog, and I think I might have gone a little crazy with the onions.

Anyway. I don’t think it’s as useful to look at K ror BB rate as it is to look at percentage of outcomes. Did anything really change from the early Meche to late Meche?

Yes, clearly.
Meche’s walk rate went from 14% of batters he faced to 4%. His HR rate went up by half, from 3% to 5% though two hundred at-bats in either direction isn’t enough that I’d really want to draw conclusions from it. He’s striking out about 19% of the batters he faces. And that’s in Safeco, too, which makes the HR rate even more eye-popping.

An average pitcher’s rates are (and I’m doing rough estimates here, please forgive me if I screw up) about 8% walk rate, 15% K rate, and 2.5% HR rate.

So Meche has turned into almost a super-powered Franklin. He’s striking guys out with the same curve he’s been teasing us with for years, but not dominating, and he’s walking almost no one. The price he seems to be paying is that when he can’t get the K, he’s coming back over the plate and taking his chances. Sometimes that means the pitch is crushed.

If he can keep this up, munch innings, he’s an average major league starter. A bit of an odd one, but there are many different ways to get to any particular spot. Now, what’s that worth — $2m? $3m? Is the risk of re-injury large enough that it’s too expensive for a gamble?


27 Responses to “The New Meche”

  1. Meche-as-Awesome Crowd on September 13th, 2004 7:56 am

    And, of course, as you imply in all of your posts, but never actually own up to…there is absolutely no chance that he will improve since he is already 26, and 26-year-old pitchers, particularly those with oodles of uninterrupted development time, just never show any improvement.

  2. Jeff Sullivan on September 13th, 2004 8:37 am

    I don’t like to spam, but your site went down when I tried posting a comment in response, so I decided to put it up on my site instead.

  3. m2 on September 13th, 2004 9:11 am

    I’m gonna assume comment #1 is brimming with sarcasm and agree with it 100%. What would’ve been the all-knowing analysis of, say … Jamie Moyer when he was 26? I’m sick and tired of seeing the Mariners give up on guys way too early (Varitek, Lowe, Podsednik, even Ibanez) only to see them go on to star elsewhere. Baseball, more so than any other sport, has plenty of room for guys over 30 … and as many of today’s current stars prove, you don’t figure it out until about the age of 30. So for anyone to suggest Meche should be let go, or has no value, whatever … clue in. He’s the equivalent of a 21- or 22-year-old in the NFL.

  4. eponymous coward on September 13th, 2004 9:13 am

    Yeah, Jeff has it about right. I think Meche is worth the continued investment, and the M’s should be reasonably smart about their use of him (which might be asking a lot). Let’s see what his nnext start is like Friday against the A’s.

  5. IceX on September 13th, 2004 9:14 am

    Meche is nowhere near back at 100%. Golden Boy’s still got some room to grow.

    Meche is essentially relearning the art of pitching. He first learned from the old dude down in the minors to attack the zone and use his power to his advantage. If yesterday is any indication, he’ll start using some brain power and not pipe everything in the zone.

    Meche will eventually gel. Pitchers can gel at almost any point in their career. They’re much more flexible than hitters. (See: Moyer, Jamie. Loaiza, Esteban. Abbott, Paul.)

    As for calling Meche a super powered Ryan Franklin… That’s like saying Randy Johnson is Matt Thornton with better control. Not only is it inaccurate, it’s borderline insane to compare pitchers with such different toolboxes, especially when one has stuff to make MVP batters cry.

  6. eponymous coward on September 13th, 2004 9:14 am

    Oh, and Podsednik? Batting .260 in Milwaukee with not a lot of power…very similar to what you’d think you’d get based on Tacoma.

  7. Evan on September 13th, 2004 9:18 am

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting Meche be let go – so far the near-universal opinion has been that he should be kept around for something not significantly more than $2 million/year. I think we all basically agree on that.

    The difference of opinion lies in whether we think that $2 million pitcher is going to become an $8 million pitcher, stay a $2 million pitcher, or collapse in an injured heap and become a $500K reliever. But for now, he’s that $2 million pitcher, and the M’s could really use him.

  8. DMZ on September 13th, 2004 9:47 am

    Jeez. No one’s argued Meche has no value. No one’s argued that at 26 he doesn’t have room to improve. I’m again baffled as to why people want to read in personal animosity w/r/t Meche, that I think he’s worthless.

    My point with comparing him to Franklin was statistical only: that he’s giving up few walks, putting the ball in play, both like Franklin, except he’s also getting more strikeouts than Franklin has historically. That’s all.

    I think there’s room in baseball discussion for comparisons like that.

  9. Jeff Sullivan on September 13th, 2004 9:57 am

    By the same token, you could compare Meche to Schilling, who also gives up his share of homers while limiting walks and missing some bats.

    All of a sudden, you’ve got Meche matched up with one of the best pitchers in baseball and a marginal fifth starter. That doesn’t really tell you much. I think that, when better comparisons are available, they should be sought out, because making vague approximations of a player’s numbers can result in him being matched up with significantly different players.

  10. Evan on September 13th, 2004 10:09 am

    Given Meche’s low walk rate, I’m very eager to see who PECOTA thinks his best comps are this off-season.

  11. Vertigoleys on September 13th, 2004 10:37 am

    man this web page stinks….

  12. DMZ on September 13th, 2004 10:39 am

    Schilling’s a tempting comparison. 2004 v New Meche:
    K rate – Schilling 21%, Meche 19%
    BB rate – Schilling 3%, Meche 4%
    HR rate – Schilling 2.6%, Meche 4.7%

    Schilling manages an even higher K rate, even lower walk rate, while keeping his home run rate at about the league average. The difference in home run rates alone is over a run/game (well, 9 IP).

  13. DMZ on September 13th, 2004 10:46 am

    I’ve filed a trouble ticket with our ISP about your odor problem, Vertigoleys. Unfortunately you’re the only user to report it sot hey’re having trouble tracking it down… are you sure the problem isn’t local?

  14. dmc on September 13th, 2004 10:50 am

    IPS* 6.66
    ERA 3.44
    K/9 9.43
    WHIP 1.10
    K/BB 4.19
    BBA .228
    P/IP 15.9

    IPS 6.9
    ERA 3.30
    K/9 4.83
    WHIP 1.26
    K/BB 2.22
    BBA .266
    P/IP 14.6

    IPS 7.24
    ERA 3.9
    K/9 5.61
    WHIP 1.28
    K/BB 1.72
    BBA .250
    P/IP 14.4

    IPS 6.875
    ERA 3.12
    K/9 6.2
    WHIP 0.98
    K/BB 4.2
    BBA .217
    P/IP 16.9

    *IPS = innings per start

    Player A is Pedro, B is Tim Hudson, C is Mark Mulder, and D is Meche since the all-star break. Meche’s sample size is too small to base grandiose assumptions on, but it’s pretty encouraging, especially given the fact that these numbers are in line with what he did in the first half of ’03. Fatigue clearly played a role in his post all-star break decline last year. What happened in the first half of this season is anybody’s guess. But I think there is reason for some fairly serious (if still cautious) optimism. (Remember, he takes the mound each time with the understanding that if he gives up a single run, he may very well get tagged with the loss, and if he gives up more than two, he can practiaclly fugeddaboudit).

    He’s established some real positives in this recent stretch that he can build on. I’d like to find out whether he will be able to do so in a Mariner uniform.

  15. dmc on September 13th, 2004 10:54 am

    ooops, “BBA” above should be “BAA”. Sorry for the sloppy typing.

  16. Trev on September 13th, 2004 11:31 am

    Meche’s DIPS ERA since the ASB: 4.31
    BABIP: .240
    K/9: 6.49

    DIPS ERA: 4.12
    BABIP: .240
    K/9: 6.75

    Rich Harden:
    DIPS: 4.38
    BABIP: .237
    K/9: 6.4

    Just thought you might like to know. (All this from

  17. Dave on September 13th, 2004 11:38 am

    This might be better off as a post, as it could get buried in comments, but I’ll put it here for now. This isn’t going to break new ground, but I think its important to cover anyways.

    There are essentially three outcomes a pitcher has consistent control over; strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Whether balls in play turn into hits or outs is mostly defense and almost always evens out over time. If a pitcher can succeed at two of the three things he can control, he’ll succeed. Lots of strikeouts and no walks will make up for a terrible home run rate (Jamie Moyer, 2003 version). No walks and no home runs will compensate for a low strikeout rate (Tim Hudson). And even if you have terrible control, as long as you’re getting swings and misses and keep the ball in the park, you’ll be fine (Carlos Zambrano).

    Meche is currently doing about 1.5 well. He’s not walking anyone, and his strikeouts are enough above average that it’s canceling out the poor HR rate. It’s not really an arguable point that if Meche continues to pitch like he is right now, he’ll succeed.

    The real question is whether you believe this “new Meche” is sustainable over the long term. He’s shown flashes of success for two month stretches before, only to implode. Expecting this to continue simply because it is his current style is overly optimistic.

    There are reasons to believe that this may continue, but there are plenty of reasons to believe it’s just a good run. Rather than arguing the near worthless cliches that “Meche has great stuff” or “Meche can improve because he’s only 26”, I’d love to see one of the Meche-as-Cy-Young types come up with real evidence that this style of pitching is something Meche can repeat next year.

    I don’t see the evidence right now. Meche is basically a lottery ticket, at this point. Lots of upside, lots of risk, and very little real evidence to support a strong likelyhood of either success or failure being predictable.

  18. Paul Weaver on September 13th, 2004 11:55 am

    I think his shutout in leu of several 100-120+ pitch outings is a positive sign that he has gained some endurance as a starter. Also, he has now logged…4 years as a MLB starter. There is some evidence for him. Especially as something other than a “lottery ticket.”

    Do HTML tables work on forums?
    they may be good for display
  19. Joe Johnson on September 13th, 2004 12:34 pm

    DMZ, I am getting tired of your comments about Meche game after game. I am happy with this guy we beat the damn Yankees and Red sox. 2 million dollars for Meche is nothing considering how much we paid for the few guys to sit at home. And you are comparing Meche to Schilling. One has only one full year of experience of MLB. I am trying to enjoy the few bright games in this season and I simply don’t understand why would you keep whine about Meche while Franklin would be making more money than he does next year?

  20. Vertigoleys on September 13th, 2004 12:40 pm

    well actually DMZ the problem is with the stupidity displayed on these boards… probably not much your ISP can do about it unless everyone is banned from these boards..

  21. Kurt on September 13th, 2004 1:16 pm

    Don’t worry, DMZ. Everyone on the interenet knows Vertigoleys stinks…and it has nothing to do with your ISP.

  22. DMZ on September 13th, 2004 1:19 pm

    I compared Meche to Schilling because someone else did because they disagreed with my Frankling+strikeouts thing! ARRGGHHHH.

    And Meche has far more than one full year of MLB experience. I don’t know if you meant that he’d only spent one year on the team from Opening Day to the end, which would be true, if a strange standard.

  23. Kurt on September 13th, 2004 1:21 pm

    My problem with Meche is based SOLELY on inconsistency. I would prefer a consistent 4era, 12 wins per season type SP to a guy who flashes brilliance in between mediocrity.

  24. LB on September 13th, 2004 1:35 pm

    Of course, it would be very interesting to see how Meche had done against the Sox if he had not been facing their JV lineup. It’s far easier to pitch to a Boston lineup that’s missing David Ortiz, has Varitek batting left-handed in the #4 spot, and contains not one but two pitcher’s spots (McCarty and Pokey).

    (And I don’t understand why readers like Joe and Stan McMurry continue to read the blog if they don’t like DMZ’s comments.)

  25. Eric on September 13th, 2004 2:30 pm

    I think the reason to stick with Meche is he is still relatively cheap with upside (sheesh we paid nearly 3 times as much for Jarvis) There is no telling when Pitchers will suddenly “get it” and put it all together. With his stuff he is certainly worth risking a couple mil on, worst case you have a 2.5 mil long reliever, hardly the end of the world for a team with a 95 mil payroll. If you are KC or Minnesota you can’t make too many gambles, the Ms can.

  26. Jim Thomsen on September 13th, 2004 2:56 pm

    I wonder when we can get off the overchewed subject of Gil Meche and have a serious analytical dialogue about Jamie Moyer, who hasn’t pitched a quality start in nearly three months and frankly looks like he’s lost that razor-thin control edge that enabled him to successfully play the shell game that’s gotten him as admirably far as it has over the last 10 years. The Mariners are stuck with him for next year for a hell of a lot more money than Gil Meche will get in 2005, and could be forced to ride with him right into the toilet because he’s a nice guy and a community icon and nobody wants to bench or release him for fear of alienate his fans.

    Or am I wrong? Is there any objective reason to think Moyer could be his 2003 self next year? Or is he, like Meche, an exploration into the unknown we will be financially forced to choose? Is he a high-risk lottery ticket? Or a safe bet … at age 42?

  27. Jerry on September 13th, 2004 9:01 pm

    Geez, this converstation has gotten a little nasty. No need to get grumpy. I think that this is an interesting discussion, because Meche is a guy who could have a huge impact on the M’s record next year.

    I don’t think that you can just compare pitchers stats without taking into account their ages, their situations, and their stuff. Franklin is a 30-something pitcher without any plus pitches. He has benefited from Safeco more than anyone. Meche is a power pitcher, and has the tools to be a great pitcher. His injury was serious, and I think that it effected him a lot last year, and perhaps in the first half this year. Since he missed so much time, and his stamina was effected, you can kind of understand his problems.

    There are two very promising things that I have seen with him lately. First, his correction of his mechanical/approach problem has paid huge dividends. The walks and the BAA are way way improved. The fact that he made such a dramatic rebound from a horrible first half suggests that the problem is fixed. The fact that it was not due to fatigue, arm problems, or unknown factors is good. The second thing that is really impressive is his stamina. In that last game, he was still throwing hard after 120 pitches (no comment on the fact that he was still in at all). He has been getting deeper into games, and he doesn’t seem to be loosing velocity late. This might suggest that Meche has turned the corner regarding his return to health. In 2003, he had the well-know post-allstar problems. But he was also much less effective late in games than he seems to be now. I don’t have stats on this, because I don’t know where to find data on the pre/post-allstar numbers broken down by innings. But that start against Boston was really impressive because he was still throwing 96 late in the game. Last year, he wasn’t doing that. Maybe it was just because he has not thrown that many innings this year (160 total). But it looks good.

    I think that Meche could be playing up to his potential from before his injuries. If that is the case, this guy is no Ryan Franklin.