Isn’t It Time to End This Experiment?


Tom Gorzelanny has a lot of experience as a starting pitcher. After debuting in “The Show” with a three game/one start cup of coffee in 2005 at the tender age of 22, Gorzelanny would go on to make 60-SOMETHING starts over the next three seasons. He began a transition after the 2008 season, but all of that is better outlined in my columns both when he was signed by Milwaukee and again during the “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” series this spring. With all of that experience, it made sense for manager Ron Roenicke to eventually reach Gorzelanny as an option to start games when the Brewers original starters and several other backup options began dropping to injury.

Even with a poor outing (4.2 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 2 HR) two starts ago against the Cincinnati Reds, his numbers this year have looked good overall. In fact, prior to his last start against the St. Louis Cardinals, radio personality Joe Block piled on some praise for the southpaw.

Furthermore, if Gorzelanny was able to replicate his success into the starting rotation, it would be great for Doug Melvin’s budget as he’s signed for 2014 at a reasonable rate for a reliever and a huge cost savings for a veteran starter.

With so much in the universe seemingly pushing Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke in this direction, one has to ask the still painfully obvious question: “Isn’t it time we ended this?”

Because here’s the thing about those numbers referenced by Block earlier… The majority of that 8th-best work came out of the bullpen. That’s because there’s a reason that Thomas Stephen Gorzelanny was converted to the bullpen full time in 2012 by the Washington Nationals. There’s a reason that they kept him there, effectively giving them innings and multiple scoreless outings. His only start of 2012 came on the final day of Washington’s regular season. And he only got that start because manager Davey Johnson was lining up his starting rotation for the postseason.

And for the record, how did Gorzelanny do in that start against the Cardinals?

3.2 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR…oof.

But it’s all fine and dandy to just tell you things and hope that you believe them. If you’d like some hard statistical facts to go along with my stance, then check out the following splits over the last two seasons combined and tell me where Gorzelanny best fits to help the Milwaukee Brewers win baseball games.

SP: 2-4, 10 G, 47.0 IP, 51 H, 27 R, 23 ER, 8 HR, 13 BB, 48 K, 1.36 WHIP, .271 BAA, 4.40 ERA
RP: 5-3, 76 G, 105.0 IP, 81 H, 36 R, 32 ER, 10 HR, 47 BB, 92 K, 1.22 WHIP, .215 BAA, 2.74 ERA

The real trouble lately for Gorzelanny though is what you might expect out of a guy who is flourishing in a long-/middle-relief role after failing as a starter. He gets hit quite hard as he attempts to get through an opposing lineup for the third time.

Here are his 2013 slash line splits (BAA/OBP/SLG/OPS) by time through a batting order as a starter:

1st Time: .274/.312/.384/.695
2nd Time: .209/.217/.373/.591
3rd: .394/.487/.727/1.214

There is more which we could get into including breakdowns of hitter handedness, leveraged situations, WPA, and more, but let’s just suffice it to say that none of those stats exactly support Gorzelanny remaining in the rotation either.

Gorzelanny is scheduled to start on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. He could do a great job. He could hold the upstart Bucs down for a quality start or more. But, based on the supporting statistics, it would be nothing more than a momentary divergence from the greatest likelihood with the next poor start just down the road a spell.

Does Tom Gorzelanny have a place on this team? Without question. It’s just that his place should be starting home games in the left-center field bullpen instead of on the mound.


  1. Berdj Rassam

    Good points made, but when you lack depth in your starting rotation you use guys like Gorzelanny to backfill. In a perfect world, he would come out of the pen. Gorzelanny being a SP is the symptom; the problem is the lack of depth in the rotation.

    • Brewer Nation

      But to that, they went to far more options before finally being almost forced to try Gorzelanny. They went to Thornburg, and Figaro, and Hand, and Hellweg. They could, in a week, go to Nelson.

      When Gorzelanny is so much more valuable to the team as a reliever, and healthy starting alternatives exist, there’s just no good reason to keep him starting.

  2. Pingback: 2013 Winter Meetings Recap Day 1: Laying Groundwork « The Brewer Nation

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