Brad Penny, Thanks but No Thanks


For some, Brad Penny has been about what they expected. When the Tigers signed him to a 1 year 3MM deal in the offseason to be the fifth starter, his expectations were to eat innings, to eat some more innings, and to not be the worst pitcher in the league. Well, I guess he’s eaten some innings, 181.2 of them. But, was he really helpful as a starter? Moreover, should he even be the mop-up man on the postseason roster?

Brad Penny has some pretty despicable numbers this season. Numbers that are so bad in fact, that it has me wishing for Armando Galarraga back. Here are Penny and Galarraga’s numbers compared to one another:

Brad Penny 2011:
IP: 181.2
K/BB: 1.19
ERA: 5.30
FIP: 5.02
HR/9: 1.19
WHIP: 1.56
SWSTR%: 4.6

Armando Galarraga’s 2010
IP: 144.1
K/BB: 1.45
ERA: 4.49
FIP: 5.09
HR/9: 1.31
WHIP: 1.34
SWSTR%: 6.8

Galarraga had a better season by pretty much every metric. He was one of the worst starters in baseball last year. That is really bad. So, if Armando was one of the worst starters, and Penny was worse, let’s see how Penny stacks up in those same categories this year for all 96 qualified starters:

K/BB: Last
ERA: 2nd last
FIP: 2nd last
HR/9: 81st
WHIP: 2nd last
SWSTR: last (by a lot)

Some additional categories:
K/9: last
First pitch strike%: last
Contact%: last

You could make a case that John Lackey was worse, but it’s splitting hairs at that point. Penny doesn’t throw the ball over the plate, gets no swings and misses, and allows bushels of base runners. To make matters worse, he’s actually somehow gotten worse as the season has gone on. Since July 1, in 14 starts, he’s had only 4 quality starts. Even worse, in 78 IP, he has a 6.46 ERA, 1.62 HR/9, and a barely imaginable 1.03 K/BB over that time frame. Basically, in the last three months, he’s been Adam Bernero mixed with 2008-2009 Nate Robertson. That isn’t the type of guy you want on the postseason roster in any capacity. Duane Below can be the mop up guy out of the pen in the playoffs, he’s been pretty effective so far. It also opens up a roster spot for another relief pitcher, or a versatile position player. I appreciate Brad for eating some innings for the Tigers in 2011. I just hope he doesn’t have to eat any in the postseason.

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Tags: 2011 Playoffs

  • ChrisHannum

    Armando Galarraga was better this year, but so bad this year that he couldn’t stick with the D’backs. That’s the problem with using the sort of measures that you are using for Penny – he is the worst “qualified” starter bar none, but he’s still above replacement level, and better than loads of other guys that no one was willing to give that many starts including the Tigers composite 6th starter of Furbush/Below/Turner/Oliver

    • jgorosh

      If you change the minimum IP to 100 innings, Penny is 137th out of 144 in ERA, 138th in FIP, 2nd worst in K/BB, still last in K/9, 2nd worst in swstr%, third worst in first pitch strike%, 137th in WHIP. He’s bad whatever way you slice it.

      • ChrisHannum

        @jgorosh Just using Galarraga as a comparison – Armando couldn’t get anywhere near 100 IP this year before Arizona pulled the plug. Clearly we all expected more from Penny, but it could have been worse.

        • jgorosh

          @ChrisHannum The only way it could have been worse is if they brought back Armando. That’s really about it. He wasn’t a viable option to be brought back in any capacity this sesaon though. Obviously, no one had any way of knowing that Penny would be this awful in the last two-three months. If they had any idea he’d be this bad, they’d have tried to find some type of replacement, even if it were just Chris Capuano or something. Regardless, it didn’t really matter who we had going in that spot, we’d have won the division by the same number of games. I just hope they keep him off the playoff roster because Below is better right now, and so is just about any other option they could think of in the organization.

        • ChrisHannum

          @jgorosh Matusz?

        • jgorosh

          @ChrisHannum He’s only thrown 49 innings. But, I highly doubt the Tigers would have given him 12 starts like the Orioles did. The Orioles can afford to keep running him out there to get shelled because, well, they’re the Orioles, and Matusz was supposed to be their future ace.