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.
— Joe Block (@joe_block) August 21, 2013
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
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.
Following Saturday evening’s victory over the Chicago Cubs, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was noncommittal at best to his immediate plans for the starting rotation.
That’s understandable to a degree because while Hiram Burgos pitched very well against the Cubs, the Brewers don’t need a fifth starting pitcher again until next Tuesday, April 30 back home against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park.
We know that both Roenicke and his pitching coach Rick Kranitz prefer to use scheduled off-days as a way to help their starting pitchers get extra rest with the goal of staying healthier and however fresher into the summer. We also know that Yovani Gallardo in particular prefers to pitch on regular rest whenever possible. Though I haven’t the others involved, chances are good that they appreciate routine in kind.
Roenicke gets the final call though, and his decision regarding how his rotation will line up over the next couple of weeks does have impact. Obviously, Roenicke realizes this which is why he said that they are considering match-ups and their days off when determining how to proceed.
There are two main scenarios to be considered with some variables involved.
Scenario 1: Burgos remains in 5-man rotation, off-day ignored
-Variable 1: Burgos next start on 4/26
-Variable 2: Burgos next start on 4/28
Scenario 2: Fifth starter not used until April 30th
– Variable 1: Burgos will make that start, pitch in bullpen until then
– Variable 2: Someone else will make that start with Burgos being optioned to minors to stay on schedule and someone filling a bullpen role between now and then.
The fallout from Scenario 1, Variable 1 is twofold. First, it means that Lohse and Gallardo will continue to pitch consecutively for now. That’s probably something that Roenicke would have done anyway had Lohse been in camp all spring. Second, Burgos will follow Estrada in turn which could result in similar pitchers back-to-back but basically asks Burgos to pitch over his head in some match-ups.
In this, Burgos’ next three opponents are the Dodgers, Pirates, and Rangers. He would be the one SP to miss the Cardinals series at the beginning of May. Gallardo faces the Cardinals in either scenario, for what it’s worth.
Variable 2 for Scenario 1 allows the rotation to reorder itself back to how it was coming out of spring. Gallardo, Estrada, Peralta, Lohse, and now Burgos as the fifth SP. Here, Burgos faces the Dodgers and Cardinals for sure.
Scenario 2 gives us the following match-ups. Burgos gets Pittsburgh on 4/30, St. Louis on 5/5, and then there are off-days on both sides of the Texas two-step series on May 7 & 8 to negotiate again and determine the value of a fifth starter taking his turn.
I’d have to think that Roenicke will skip the fifth starter around the Rangers series because if he simply goes with extra rest, everybody will have six days off between starts instead of the usual four.
So there are the scenarios and some of their resultant impact. So I ask you, Brewer Nation, if you were in charge which timeline do you think will produce the best outcome?
Recorded last night over dinner and during a fantasy baseball draft, my podcast partner Cary Kostka and I get you ready for Opening Day!
We discuss the 25-man roster projection, lineup for Opening Day, rotation, Kyle Lohse, Yuniesky Betancourt and more!
Click here to download the podcast: Brewer Nation Podcast – 2013 Opening Day Preparedness