Three Reasons Kyle McClellan will be Sufficient


I feel as if I'm bombarded by information in the last couple days.  The UFC bought Strikeforce in a blockbuster MMA deal.  There are several nuclear power plants in Japan that are dealing with catastrophes and the media continues to hype imminent meltdowns. (I've watched at least two experts on msnbc and read a handful of articles that tell me that a nuclear meltdown would happen in the next 4-6 hours.  That was yesterday.)  The battle between the handegg millionaires and billionaires continues. It's so much information and, when I've been spending the better part of my weekend reveling in my Irish heritage, I can't digest it all quickly enough. The news, that is; I have a liver of steel.

O you want me to talk about baseball though. Fine. Whatever. We can talk about baseball.

After spending the last couple of years expressing my concern over Kyle McClellan in the bullpen, I've reached a point where I'm willing to reconsider by opinion. So here are three reasons why McClellan will be just fine in the rotation.

Four Pitches

According to Fangraphs, McClellan throws a fastball, cut fastball, curveball and changeup. McClellan has always had the repertoire of a starter. With his injury history, he was put in the bullpen in an attempt to manage his workload and keep his arm healthy.

McClellan's fastball clocks in around 91-92mph as a reliever. We should expect him to lose 1-2mph as he converts to a starter but he seems to have enough velocity to say above that 89mph nexus where righthanders suddenly become ineffective.

Splits

For his career, McClellan has thrown 92 "innings" against lefties and 125 "innings" against righties.  (I prefer a total batters faced when I start parsing careers like this but I'm working with what is readily available.) McClellan certainly has the kind of pitches you want to see for someone to be successful against opposite handed hitters namely an average or better changeup.  The stats bear that out nicely.

LHB RHB
K:BB 1.70 2.43
FIP 3.83 4.13
xFIP 4.35 3.94

 

So at the very least we're sending someone to the plate that has a chance against opposite handed hitters. This isn't a lamb to the wolves moment and there's nothing that sticks out as beyond the pale for McClellan to succeed.

Ryan Franklin Syndrome

This is perhaps the most nebulous but also most compelling argument. I am not, nor have I ever been, convinced of Ryan Franklin's ability to get guys out based on watching him pitch. There is some psychological block deep in my brain that prevents me from it. Thankfully, I can look at his stats and rationalize away whatever fears I may have had because Ryan Franklin has been successful.

McClellan has much of the same feel to me. Despite the rather vanilla pure stuff and and uncompelling fastball, he gets guys out.  At some point, it's as simple as that. After three years and 217 innings, the 4.00 career FIP becomes increasingly predictive and reassuring.  Will McClellan be more than a journeyman starter? Probably not but his track record suggests that he can successfully be at or slightly above replacement level. That's no Adam Wainwright but it also isn't PJ Walters so I'll take what I can get.

* * *

Have a great week everyone and don't forget to set your clocks a head an hour. Last night was Daylight Savings in the USA.

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