In a big hairy monster sort of voice “the big AL East is full of big bats. Rawr! Going from the AL East to the NL West (the land of spacious ballparks and light hitting teams) should be beneficial to Jeremy Guthrie. RAWR!”
OK, you can ignore me again.
That was all the talk when Guthrie was traded to the Rockies with Jason Hammel going back to Baltimore. With Guthrie going from pitching against the big bank rolled New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox a few times a year to pitching against AAA hitting San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants would most certainly cause his ERA to drop.
Last night Hammel faced those big bad Red Sox, in Boston, and while it certainly wasn’t his best outing of the year he still pitched five innings and only allowed one earned run on five hits and three walks (seven strikeouts). On the other end of the universe Guthrie was facing the Arizona Diamondbacks, in Arizona, and in 3 1/3 innings Guthrie allowed seven earned runs on 11 hits and two walks while striking out four.
Last night marked the fifth time this year Guthrie has allowed five runs or more in an outing and the second time he has failed to complete the fourth inning. Meanwhile Hammel has yet to allow five or more runs in any outing this year and lasted at least five innings every time. In nine starts in 2012 Guthrie has two quality starts (pitching at least six innings and allowing no more than three earned runs) and carries a 6.35 ERA. In 11 starts for Hammel he has seven quality starts and sports a 2.97 ERA.
Can we have Jason Hammel back?
And the underlying numbers support Hammel. Hammel has struck out 65 batters vs 22 walks issued while Guthrie has only K’d 23 hitters and walked 19. Hammel’s ERA+ (adjusted for park factors, league averages, etc) is 138 (really, really good) and Guthrie’s is 72 (really, really bad). Each of their FIP and xFIP suggest that their ERA is fairly accurate and based on their performance this year their ERA should remain about the same.
Here is the Pitch F/X chart for Guthrie’s game last night with only the balls resulting in the end of the plate appearance. It’s hard to see but both home runs he allowed were almost dead center of the plate.
And because heat maps are cool, here is Guthrie’s heat map from last night with the bases empty.
When we look at the entire season Guthrie is catching the plate, a lot. Notice that when the bases are empty he hits below the strike zone a lot more often then when runners are on.
Bases empty, entire season