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Outman Out; McCarthy In – Is This a Mistake?

July 3, 2011

Josh Outman was optioned to Triple-A Sacremento as Brandon McCarthy was taken off the disabled list and placed on the 25-man roster in preparation for his start tomorrow against the Mariners. I find this move very surprising as it keeps Graham Godfrey on the roster in his role as a long-reliever and keeps Guillermo Moscoso in the rotation. Frankly, I feel Outman has been a lot better than Moscoso in the rotation. Here is a comparison:

  K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP WAR
Moscoso 4.6 3.6 1.1 2.51 4.68 0.1
Outman 4.4 3.5 0.6 3.47 3.95 0.5

If we look just at these basic numbers some things stand out. Moscoso has a higher K/9 rate than Outman, but really this is misleading as in his last start vs. the Marlins he got eight strikeouts (prior to that he hadn’t topped three). Without his last start Moscoso’s K/9 rate is a pretty lousy 2.9 K/9. Aside from K/9 which was the lone category in which Moscoso proved a better pitcher than Outman – as we know that the FIP is a better reflection of pitching ability than is ERA – and knowing that that number is inflated by his last outing, it seems strange the A’s would choose to keep Moscoso in the rotation and lose Outman. When you look even deeper into Moscoso’s numbers you see quickly how his 2.51 ERA masks some really alarming statistics.

Aside from him having a terrible walk to strikeout ratio that until his last start was more walk than strikeout, he also has some pretty peculiar other statistics that don’t lend us much promise that he will be a great pitcher. While his strand rate (76.7%) is better than average (72.8%) his BABIP is unsustainably minuscule at .200 (league average being .287). Once that begins to creep anywhere near normal that 2.51 ERA goes out the window. Also, he is an extreme fly ball pitcher with 56.5% of contact resulting in a fly ball and while has always been a fly ball pitcher his HR/FB rate is a very low 6.4%. If these numbers normalize (the BABIP and the HR/FB rate in particular) Moscoso quickly becomes a liability for the A’s. While Outman has been far from an All-Star, his performances also have not indicated that like Moscoso he may be about to take a nose dive off a cliff as his xFIP indicates being an awful 5.28 which given Moscoso’s extreme fly ball tendencies helps paint a good picture of what could be in store.

While Graham Godfrey is a replacement level pitcher and has pitched like one (0.1 WAR in his three outings) at least what we are seeing is what we are getting with his ERA, FIP and xFIP all close in number (4.24/4.29/4.33). If anything Godfrey who is the complete opposite of Moscoso, getting more groundballs (45.0%) and suffering from poor BABIP (.317) and strand rates (64.7%) could end up seeing his baseball card stats improve nominally. But this isn’t my advocating Godfrey should be reinserted into the rotation but rather that if anyone were to go, Josh Outman seems the least appropriate candidate. Yet of all the pitchers it is Outman headed back to Sacramento. Not sure I follow the thought process on this one.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2011 7:30 pm

    i totally agree- mistake all the way. moscoso is also dreadful to watch. calling him “deliberate” would be generous. he pitches 20 minute half innings regularly. when i saw him (last week?) the defense was stifling yawns, and i wasn’t bothering. he didn’t pitch poorly, but with a team that can’t play defense without a pitcher keeping them involved in the game, this is terrible. i don’t know if he’s that slow because he’s unsure or because it’s his style, but it seemed to me that he was unsure. he spent tons of focus on the baserunners, and then they ran on him anyway. it was terrible. really really dreadful.

    outman on the otherhand, seems more comfortable on the mound. and his name fits so well with ballfour. what can we do without that?

  2. July 4, 2011 5:29 pm

    Even if Moscoso is slow to watch (and yes I am with you entirely because he is a small notch-better than Rafael Betancourt in the slow category) it’d be one thing if he were very good. Frankly he hasn’t been. Its interesting though that you and I have totally different takes on Moscoso in terms of his being unsure, whereas I feel he has swagger (not back up by much but swagger nonetheless) and see Outman as a bit more unsure of himself.

    I just base it off the results though, and for all of Outman’s inconsistency he doesn’t walk guys the way Moscoso does. Fly balls too easily turn into home runs (yes, even at the Coliseum that can be true) as we saw in his last outing where his unsustainable HR/FB ratio started to return to the world of normal. I get why keeping Outman stretched out is desirable so I am fine with him not going into a long relief role, but I just don’t see the justification behind this move especially in light of Melvin’s comments that Tyson Ross could be going to the bullpen upon his return. Why? To keep Moscoso in the rotation? It’ll be interesting to see what happens. Regardless I think its safe to say we agree if it is Moscoso or Outman its indefensible to have chosen Moscoso.

    • July 4, 2011 7:45 pm

      wow, i missed that comment re: ross. that is really worrisome- i’d much rather have outman OR ross than moscoso. you’re absolutely right, flyball pitchers are dangerous.

      the sad part is that we’ve gotten here at all. if i remember right, moscoso wasn’t even at big league camp? i think i read that the a’s are on their 9th starter?

      and when is fuentes getting kicked to the curb?

      • July 4, 2011 11:09 pm

        Yeah, here is what Susan Slusser reported regarding Ross’ return (link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/athletics/detail?entry_id=92481) “One interesting tidbit from the pregame session with Bob Melvin: When I asked if Tyson Ross will be back in the rotation after the break, he said that hasn’t been decided yet, but he knows Ross can work as a starter or in a relief role. I think that might be an indication that the relief role is what is getting looked at right now.”

        To me Ross is the class of those three no questions asked. Also Ross is a ticking time bomb. Get what you can from him while you can. Moscoso was on the roster during Spring Training, he did alright not terrible nothing spectacular.

        I am a fan of Fuentes if he is used right. Great article on Athletics Nation about it, good read (I think I plugged this before in a game thread maybe?): http://www.athleticsnation.com/2011/6/28/2247205/the-sad-misuse-of-brian-fuentes

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