Gil Meche Revisited Yet Again

Dave · August 1, 2006 at 8:44 am · Filed Under Mariners 

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:

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.


68 Responses to “Gil Meche Revisited Yet Again”

  1. PhilipDenver on August 1st, 2006 4:00 pm

    EC – thanks for the link to the old thread, good times.

  2. eponymous coward on August 1st, 2006 4:02 pm

    Someone with minor league stats where they are K’ing 7-8 a game in the minors isn’t a power pitcher, since they are likely to lose some oomph. Case in point: Jarrod Washburn (7.35 K/9 IP in the minors).

    I think I’d be THRILLED to get 75-57, 3.93 ERA over about 1150 IP from Feierabend before we let him walk as a free agent to get his deluxe-sized contract. You seriously think he’s going to outdo that?

  3. CecilFielderRules on August 1st, 2006 4:02 pm

    Assuming the cost is negligible – pick up Cruz, send down Dobbs, and your bench is much more flexible…

  4. JI on August 1st, 2006 4:06 pm


    We could be out of the race in 10 days– or we could have a 3 game lead in the division.

    Jones has a sub .600 OPS, and is still learning to play the OF.

    Cruz can get on base at a .340-.350 clip, which is important for a player who hits in front of Ichiro. Also, he could play CF without killing the team, and cut back on SuperWillie’s playing time. (I’m not sure whether his D is adequate or slightly sub-par).

  5. eponymous coward on August 1st, 2006 4:07 pm

    Oops, my bad- Jarrod’s K/9 IP in the minors is 7.56. Feierabend walks less guys, though.

    I still say if Feierabend give you what Jarrod Washburn gave the Angels before he came here, I’d be pretty happy. Not that I’d object if he turned into, say, Mark Buehrle, but Buehrle improved his G/F ratio in the majors.

  6. Thingray on August 1st, 2006 4:17 pm

    #53 – I agree that Cruz would be a good be a nice pick-up at the right price, but I would rather see Jones go back to Tacoma to develop if we picked up Cruz, rather than sending Dobbs down (who is as “developed” as he will get IMO).

  7. Thingray on August 1st, 2006 4:19 pm

    Amazing. I’ve learned how to write posts that sound like Porky Pig. That’s what I get for posting while trying to get a ton of work cleared off my desk at the same time.

    But I still think if we picked up Cruz, that Jones should be sent back down to continue to develop.

  8. Dave on August 1st, 2006 4:56 pm

    Feierabend is 20, in Double-A, and K’ing 9.0/G over his last 6 weeks. Washburn’s K/9 in the high minors, at more advanced ages, was much lower.

    Feierabend has better stuff, misses bats, and just isn’t a finesse guy. I’m guessing you missed the post I did at the end of the last thread we had this conversation on.

  9. terry on August 1st, 2006 5:19 pm

    Where/how did you get the monthly splits for the rate stats?

  10. Dave on August 1st, 2006 5:25 pm

    You can get them at

  11. terry on August 1st, 2006 5:39 pm

    Thanks Dave-thats a great site and a new bookmark. I know this isn’t an enlightened question but I was referring to the original breakdown on Meche-i’ve seen THT stats but I can only find season-to-date summaries.

    On another note, you guys really should charge for access to this site-I’ve learned less in college lectures 🙂

  12. Dave on August 1st, 2006 5:58 pm

    Oh, the Meche data I got by going to his game log on, then dumping it into excel and running the calculations myself.

  13. mntr on August 1st, 2006 11:56 pm

    What’s a good Safeco pitcher? I’d think being a lefty who doesn’t walk people is the gneeral prototype, with everything else being gravy.

  14. terry on August 2nd, 2006 4:23 am

    #62: thanks

  15. MickeyZ on August 2nd, 2006 6:22 am

    Since people are talking about having Moyer back next year, I’d be interested in seeing this kind of analysis done on him. It doesn’t seem to me like a guy who walks 2.5 people per 9 innings and only strikes out 4.6 is doing anything all that special. Last year his ground ball to flyball ratio was .87, but I don’t know what it is this year.

  16. eponymous coward on August 2nd, 2006 9:57 am

    Ah, I see the comment.

    Yeah, Chuck Finley is pretty high as well- that’s a guy who was top 10 in his league in K’s for 10 years.

    (He also spent alomost NO time in the minors after being a draft-and-follow, so it’s impossible to compare minor league stats.)

    Like I said, if he turns into a flyball version of Mark Buehrle, OK, then.

  17. BelaXadux on August 2nd, 2006 7:58 pm

    To remove Gil Meche from the roster, the Ms would need or would have needed to obtain a starter at least as good. No such pitcher was on the market, period; hence the interest in Meche by _other_ teams. To have any hope of contending this year, the Ms have to keep Meche, it’s that simple.

    And he’s not pitching that badly, as Dave breaks down. Gil’s finally using his curve to finish off batters with Ks, together with his new slider. He’s getting a few more GBs than historically. By staying away from his fastball a bit more, which he can’t keep down or locate all that well generally, he’s cut his walk rate. He’s no star, but as long as he gets this level of Ks he can be a useful guy, especially in Safeco.

    Not that he was the night I went last week and saw him against Toronto. That was the old Gil being Gil, who couldn’t finish off batters or innings (in part because the ump wouldn’t give him close calls since he was missing a lot the rest of the time), ran up a high pitch count, and gave up a bunch of screaming line drives when he got behind in the count. Even so, he got his share of Ks, and his slider is a nice little weapon, especially to LH batters; not a plus pitch, but something useful.

    I’m no fan of signing Gil long term. He’s a great bet to land in the Park/Dreifort/Pavano/Jaret Wright group, a guy who after years of indifferent result, in some cases mixed with injury, pitches ‘decently’ or better in his walk year and gets a four year deal well above his career line. Whoever signs Gil in the offseason is likely to be very disappointed. So the Ms should let him go and take the draft pick.

  18. BelaXadux on August 2nd, 2006 8:32 pm

    Re: Meche falling apart in games, now some/much of this is certainly a lack of mental toughness, sure. However, in my view Gil just doesn’t have good enough control on most/all of his pitches, and that’s the real problem. He hits patches in games, and patches of games, where he’s either missing by more then 6 inches or putting the pitch in the fat part of the plate. When Gil gets behind or has his bad innings he doesn’t really have a go-to pitch he can command for a quality strike. That’s the problem, he has to keep throwing but his control gets shaky runs where he can’t make a quality pitch; I see this as a legacy of injury, or simply his career pattern, and I’m pessimistic that he’ll ever shake it. 2-3 years ago, I though differently, but Gil has clearly established that he can’t command the corners at all, or bet his fastball in a good part of the zone when in trouble.

    The big difference this year is that his curve is good enough, and his slider new enough that he’s getting swings-and-misses in the zone. I suspect the issue with Gil going to too many fastballs when behind in the count is really that Meche knows he can’t reliably throw a quality strike if he’s behind in the count and that he’s decided that a ball in play is better than a walk. Given his history, I think he’s _not_ wrong there: he’s got to try his best to stay away from the big inning, and a solo HR isn’t something to get in a swivet over. Look at Moyer in that regard; a totally different pitching pattern, but still a willingness to give up solo shots as opposed to walks. None of this makes Gil any kind of ToR pitcher, but it may not be simple stupidity either. More like finding a way to succeed passably with stuff that isn’t as good as it looks at first.

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