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.