It is safe to say that Bob Howry's tenure in San Francisco this season has gone without much fan fare.
With a 1-6 record, and a propensity to give up the walk-off home run (he has given up five home runs this year, and has blown three saves), Howry has been constantly hounded by boo-birds throughout the Bay Area.
If you look deeper at the stats though, Howry hasn't been as bad as Giants fans would like to think.
For instance, Howry currently has the second-best WHIP (Walks and hits divided by innings pitched) ratio on the Giants pitching staff at 1.13.
The only guy he is behind? The Ace of the Giants pitching staff, Tim Lincecum, who has a 1.03 WHIP.
Surprisingly, his WHIP is also better than more liked, and more used relievers such as Brian Wilson (who has a 1.25 WHIP), Sergio Romo (1.32) and even...gasp... holds leader Jeremy Affeldt (1.27).
I'm sure most fans will probably say, "So what! He has a good WHIP. That doesn't mean he's a good pitcher by any standards."
Yet when you have a guy like Howry, whose WHIP is dramatically better than the pitcher with the worst WHIP in the current bullpen (Merkin Valdez, who has a 1.59 WHIP, though he is to be supplanted by Joe Martinez who has a 1.94 WHIP), that has to be a sign that he should be getting more innings on the mound.
I can certainly understand a lot of people's disappointment with Howry. In terms of many of his other statistics, Howry has had a down year since his 2008 season in Chicago.
His strikeouts-per-nine innings pitched is down (7.51 to 6.36), and his walks-per-nine innings pitched has risen as well (1.66 to 2.75). Furthermore, his WPA (win probability added) this season has been awful (-1.32), even though last year it wasn't much better (-0.79).
Yet strangely enough, Howry actually has improved upon some categories this year while taking the hill for the Orange and Black.
His home run-per-nine innings ratio is actually down from his last year in Chicago (0.86 in comparison to 1.66 last year), and the .226 batting average of hitters who have faced him this season is not only dramatically down from last year (last year hitters hit .311 off of Howry), but is actually fourth-best on the team, behind only Affeldt, Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez in that order.
Howry's season this year hasn't exactly been a replica of what we have seen from the other free-agent signing Brian Sabean inked this offseason in Affeldt. I will let fans have that.
However, to compare Howry to Affeldt is unfair. They are two different kinds of pitchers, and thus comparing the two would be comparing apples to oranges.
If anything, we should be comparing Howry to Brandon Medders and Sergio Romo, both who have seen much more time on the mound than Howry this season.
Romo getting more work lately than Howry makes sense. While Romo's WHIP is worse than Howry's, Romo makes up for his inefficiencies in the WHIP and ERA (5.04) categories with incredible strikeout-per-nine innings percentage and strikeouts-to-walks ratio
With a 10.44 K/9 and 3.22 K/BB ratios, he is first and second in those categories on the team respectively.
Thus, as evidenced by the data, Romo fills a need. He is more likely to get the big strikeout when the Giants need it, and Howry, with 6.36 K/9 and 2.31 K/BB ratios in the categories listed above, just can't do that as well as Romo.
That being said, Medders certainly doesn't do it much better than Howry.
Medders has a higher strikeout-per-nine innings ratio at 7.36, but after that, there isn't much Medders does better than Howry.
Medders' opponent batting average is higher than Howry's at .251, and his 1.42 WHIP is atrociously worse than Howry's WHIP as well.
Basically, whenever manager Bruce Bochy decides to put in Medders over Howry, the team is putting themselves in a dangerous spot. Fans may not want to believe it, but statistically, Howry is a more dependable pitcher than the erratic Medders, who has been a mess in the second half this season.
Overall, I still think Howry should be regulated to secondary set-up duty behind Affeldt, and shouldn't be kept beyond this year. That being said, those who blame Howry for the bullpen's struggles this year should quit pointing the finger at him all the time.
Yeah, he has been part of the problem with the Giants bullpen, but not as big as many would like to think, especially when compared to Medders.
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