Gil Meche Revisited Yet Again
I know I wrote about this three weeks ago, but I feel compelled to once again talk about everyone’s favorite subject, Gil Meche, who has created a divide of opinions wider than the physique of Emiliano Fruto. Meche has been labeled a lot of things during the first four months of the season; a bum, a guy who turned the corner, an ace, prime trade bait, and most recently, a bum again. Consistency has not been Meche’s forte. After getting torched again last night, his July ERA ended at 5.67, the worst of any month so far.
So, once again, we’re forced to look at Meche and try to figure out what to expect the last two months of 2006. If this team is going to make a run at the AL West, we need Good Gil Meche to show up a lot more often than Crappy Gil Meche. I’ve given up hope that Crappy Gil Meche has been evicted; at this point, it’s obvious that he’s going to show up often enough to frustrate us all, but we just have to hope that Good Gil Meche shows up more often.
So, if we looked at Meche’s months by ERA, we’d see the following: 4.78, 4.93, 1.60, 5.67. June looks like a pretty big outlier, doesn’t it? June was clearly a fluke, and he reverted to form in July, or so the analysis would go.
Except its not true, and this is yet another reason why using ERA to try to predict future performance is futile. Let’s take a look at Meche’s rate stats, by month:
Month BB% K% GB% FB% LD% HR/FB FIP xFIP April 11% 17% 39% 39% 22% 13% 5.27 5.03 May 11% 21% 46% 40% 14% 12% 4.70 4.60 June 7% 19% 44% 43% 14% 5% 3.32 4.30 July 9% 23% 38% 42% 20% 15% 4.74 4.07
In April, he was the same lousy pitcher we’ve seen for years. In May, he started missing more bats, which helped make him just mediocre instead of crappy. In June, the command improved significantly and he was helped by an unsustainable home run rate. In July (or more accurately, his last two starts), his command regressed and the home run rate went to the other end of the spectrum, but despite the high ERA, it was still obviously his second best month of the year, significantly better than April or May. From a predictive standpoint, you could argue that it was even better than June, because his strikeout rate increased more drastically than his walk rate did, and the 15% HR/FB rate isn’t going to continue any more so than the 5% did in June.
Yes, Gil Meche was pretty terrible last night. But when evaluating what kind of Gil Meche we’re likely to see in August and September, the last month should make you more optimistic, not less so, and there’s no reason to be piling off the bandwagon right now.
I’ll repeat what I said three weeks ago; Gil Meche is clearly not an ace or any kind of frontline pitcher, I don’t want to give him a mulitiyear contract in the offseason, but I’m also glad they didn’t trade him, because the 8% BB/20% K flyball pitcher in Safeco Field is an effective starter who can help this team try to win the division. He’s going to give up some home runs, but that’s just part of the package.
If we see Gil Meche for what is right now, and not what we want him to be or what he used to be, we’ll realize that we have a #4 starter who is having the best run of his career in the year we need it the most. Not trading Gil Meche was the right move, just like letting him walk at the end of the year will be the right move. And last night’s suckfest doesn’t change any of that.