After taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning Sunday against the White Sox—and extending his streak of no earned runs allowed to 22.2 innings—Jeremy Guthrie has reached “take notice” status within the baseball community.
The former Indian, Oriole and Rockie, who now has six starts under his belt with the Royals, is owned in just eight percent of Yahoo! leagues. Given his struggles in recent years, it’s easy to assume this mini streak is an aberration. But we’re not in the business of assuming, so let’s dig deep to develop an informed opinion.
Guthrie has amassed a 4.33 ERA (4.76 FIP) in nine major league seasons, but his career hasn’t gone without sustained success. Pitching in the hitter-friendly Camden Yards and against AL East hitters, Guthrie posted ERAs of 3.70, 3.63 and 3.83 in 2007, 2008 and 2010, respectively. Given his low strikeout rate (career 5.49 K/9) and high fly-ball rate (career 40.4 percent) however, Guthrie has never posted a single-season FIP under 4.40.
Guthrie’s bug-a-boo has been a propensity to yield the long ball. Among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings since 2004 (Guthrie’s major league debut), only five other pitchers (Jamie Moyer, Dave Bush, Bartolo Colon, Ted Lilly and Brett Myers) have a home run rate higher than Guthrie’s mark of 1.27.
While 2012 has been Guthrie’s most homerific year yet (1.67 HR/9), he has yet to allow one this month. After two dismal starts in a Royals uniform (10.1 innings, 15 hits, three homers, 11 earned runs), Guthrie has posted a 0.94 ERA in his last four starts against offenses that rank first, fourth (twice) and 13th in the A.L.
- Aug. 3 vs. TEX: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
- Aug. 8 @ CHW: 8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
- Aug. 14 vs. OAK: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
- Aug. 19 vs. CHW: 7.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R (0 ER), BB, 5 K
In total, Guthrie has allowed just three earned runs in 28.2 August innings with a 7.22 K/9 and 1.57 BB/9. The sub-1.00 ERA and 0.00 HR/9 are obviously unsustainable, and his .224 BABIP (despite a 21.1 line drive rate) this month supports that. Clearly, he isn’t this good. We all get that. The real question is, given the spacious outfield at Kauffman Stadium and his new-found release point, can he recapture his status as a usable fantasy option?
His home/road splits with the Rockies earlier this season (as you might assume) suggest Guthrie’s unsightly numbers were the product of Coors Field.
- Home: 9.50 ERA, 3.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 3.0 HR/9
- Road: 3.68 ERA, 5.0 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9
Take that near-10 Coors Field ERA and replace it with his current ERA at Kauffman this season (2.81), and suddenly you have a viable fantasy starter. Guthrie won’t blow you away—though he did top out at 95.7 mph on Sunday, according to Brooks Baseball—and his arsenal doesn’t include swing-and-miss stuff. In fact, three of his four primary pitches (fastball, curve, changeup) have a career negative run value.
Guthrie’s fate relies heavily on variables he cannot control, such as his defense and park factors. Luckily, Kauffman Stadium had the third-lowest HR factor last season according to FanGraphs, so many of Guthrie’s would-be gopher balls will likely fall short in Kansas City. At best, he’s a No. 4 fantasy starter, and he won’t contribute many strikeouts, but Guthrie should be a decent option for competing fantasy teams down the stretch.
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