Not convinced that Horacio Ramirez should still be in the rotation (yea, me either) and still looking for potentially useful replacements? Well, we’ve got another one.
The Dodgers designated Brett Tomko for assignment this afternoon. He’s been a disappointment this year, running a 5.80 ERA while splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. He’s never lived up to his reputation coming through the minors, but in recent years, he’d been a serviceable pitcher, including running a 4.73 ERA last year, 4.48 the year before, and 4.04 back in 2004.
Has he just declined to the point where he’s no longer useful? Let’s take a look.
2004: 7.7% BB, 13.1% K, 42% GB, 11% HR/Fly, 69.4% LOB%, .305 BABIP, 4.78 xFIP
2005: 7.0% BB, 13.9% K, 40% GB, 11% HR/Fly, 70.5% LOB%, .322 BABIP, 4.65 xFIP
2006: 5.9% BB, 15.5% K, 38% GB, 11% HR/Fly, 67.2% LOB%, .298 BABIP, 5.03 xFIP
2007: 8.8% BB, 16.6% K, 41% GB, 11% HR/Fly, 62.1% LOB%, .338 BABIP, 4.68 xFIP
Pretty consistent, eh? Walks are up a little bit this year, but so are the strikeouts, and the downward trend in his GB% has reversed, indicating that his stuff isn’t sliding into uselessness. He’s not giving up any more home runs than usual either, so he hasn’t turned into a guy who is just throwing meatballs down the heart of the plate.
So why the high ERA? A lot of balls in play turning into hits and an inability to strand guys once they’re on base. Guess what – those aren’t nearly the repeatable skills that the walk, strikeout, and groundball rates are, and they paint a totally different picture than ERA does. His skillset hasn’t changed much at all – just the results have, and if you’ve read the blog for any length of time, you know that skillsets predict future performance far better than past results, especially in things like batting average on balls in play and stranding runners.
Basically, Brett Tomko’s 5.80 ERA is the exact opposite of Jarrod Washburn’s 3.20 ERA back in 2005. Stranding runners wasn’t a repeatable skill then and it’s not one now. There’s no reason to believe that Tomko will continue stranding just 62% of his baserunners going forward, and when you adjust your expectations for a normal strand rate, Tomko profiles out as a perfectly adequate 5th starter.
In fact, I could put together a rather compelling case that Tomko is a very similar pitcher to Miguel Batista, and projections for their performance the rest of the season should be nearly identical.
Would you pick up a Miguel Batista clone to replace Horacio Ramirez if he was made available for nothing? Yea, me too. Horacio Ramirez has never been as good as Brett Tomko is right now, and this is yet another possible move the M’s could make to strengthen their team for the stretch run.
Bring back Brett Tomko.