What David Purcey Brings to the Detroit Tigers’ Table

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It took me a little while to finally look past David Purcey’s 5.10 career ERA, but he’s been a much better pitcher since being converted from starter to reliever (prior to the 2010 season).

Here’s how his career pitching line breaks down:

The FIP numbers indicate that the improvement hasn’t come purely as a result of good luck (or a correction of bad luck). He’s maintained his pretty good strikeout rate while getting better with the walks and home runs.

Purcey’s career numbers peg him squarely as a fly-ball pitcher (0.67 GB/FB ratio), but he’s been closer to even so far this year (0.95 GB/FB ratio). Extreme fly-ball pitchers scare me, but perhaps he will end up being close to Phil Coke in this respect (0.91 career GB/FB ratio).

Purcey relies heavily on a 92 MPH fastball that he throws on nearly 80% of his pitches, but he also mixes in a slider and a changeup. He had been also throwing a curveball in previous seasons, but he seems to have mostly abandoned that pitch this season – he’s only thrown it a handful of times.

Here’s how he’s been mixing those pitches according to the count (click for larger version):

As you can see, he hasn’t strayed far from the fastball, staying above 70% useage in nearly every count. It seems a little predictable for my taste, but this trend is probably not all that uncommon for relievers who often rely on one or two bread and butter pitches.

Purcey has been very good in his (relatively short) career at stranding inherited runners. Only 17% (4 of 23) have scored under his watch (I believe league average is around 31%).

He’s not going to end up as a closer or primary setup man, but David Purcey should prove to be effective in medium leverage situations in the sixth and seventh innings.

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