Todd Redmond Shouldn't Be An Option

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

As a pitcher without options who fared admirably in 2013 Todd Redmond has a real chance to be Toronto's fifth starter. If he does get that chance, things could get ugly.

As most visitors to Bluebird Banter are painfully aware, it has been a remarkably inactive offseason for the Blue Jays. This inactivity has caused a great deal of negativity, both in terms of depression and rage. It has also forced fans to accept that players that they assumed would be pushed down the depth chart by newly acquired talent remain in positions to play roles far greater than their talents dictate in 2014. My personal beef lies with the idea of Ryan Goins as a starting second baseman, but there is also a fair amount of righteous outrage regarding the rotation. Coming out of 2013 the assumption was that guys like Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond would scarcely be heard from again,now it looks like one of them will probably open the season in the Blue Jays rotation.

The Jays have more interesting candidates for that spot such as Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek, but none of those players are out of options and as a result they are likely to open the season with Buffalo. That may not be a bad thing. Drabek and Hutchison still need to prove they are at full strength coming off their Tommy John surgeries. Even if either is healthy, neither has proved themselves as an effective starter at the major league level. Stroman may well be ready, but he will have to show himself to be significantly better than both Redmond and Rogers and the Blue Jays might be inclined to have him get some triple-A seasoning.

If we assume, depressing as it may be, that Redmond and Rogers are the front runners for the fifth stater job out of the gate, the preference by a lot of fans may be Todd Redmond. Redmond was surprisingly effective in 2013, definitely more so than Rogers. The chart below shows a comparison between the two last year:

Player

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

xFIP

WAR

Todd Redmond

77

8.88

2.69

1.52

4.30

4.40

4.16

0.8

Esmil Rogers

137.2

6.28

2.88

1.37

4.77

4.73

4.08

0.4

Redmond bests Rogers in virtually ever category here, although his sample is smaller and therefore less reliable. That being said, it would seem that the way Redmond struck out batters while limiting walks makes him worth a shot as the fifth starter. The home runs were a huge problem, one partly created by the fact Redmond's ground ball rate in 2013 was an anemic 30.3%. Although that is likely to go up to a degree going forward, Redmond has never had a season in the minors with more ground balls than fly balls so it's not a problem that's going away. Another major issue is one that can't be seen in Redmond's stat line: Todd Redmond is a two-pitch pitcher.

According to FanGraphs 93.6% of Redmond's pitches last season were either sliders or fastballs, while his changeup was merely a token offering. That type of profile screams reliever, and given the fastball/slider mix it screams platoon problems. On the surface it appeared that Redmond did fine against left-handed batters in 2013, in fact he exhibited a reverse platoon split:

Vs.

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

LHB

.205

.289

.435

.317

RHB

.273

.327

.468

.343

Those numbers may look quite surprising an remarkable, perhaps they even look like evidence that Redmond can be effective against left-handed batters going forward. However, you should never bet on a right handed pitcher armed only with a fastball at around 90 mph and a slider to get LHB's out. As it turns out, the case to be made that the numbers above are legitimate is wafer-thin. A more in-depth look at Redmond's peripherals by handedness split is much more revealing:

Vs.

K%

BB%

BABIP

FIP

xFIP

LHB

19.0%

8.6%

.209

5.26

5.06

RHB

28.7%

5.3%

.363

3.36

3.09

It seems that BABIP luck is the main reason that Redmond appeared to control left handers last year, when in fact he did a very poor job against them. That being said, the discrepancy between the BABIP numbers here reflect more than luck alone there is also a fundamental difference between the type of batted balls Redmond allowed against LHB's and RHB's:

Vs.

GB/FB

Ground Ball%

Fly Ball%

IFFB%

Line Drive%

LHB

0.41

23.8%

57.4%

8.6%

18.9%

RHB

0.93

38.5%

41.7%

20.0%

19.8%

Redmond allows fly ball after fly ball to left handers which helps account for the low BABIP while also explaining why they are generally killing him with extra base hits, especially home runs. The following Brooks Baseball zone profile shows the ISO that left handers are put up against Redmond last season:

Although the sample here is on the small side, this is what to expect this season when Redmond faces LHB's.

Last year Redmond gave the illusion of a pitcher who could handle a starting role, when in fact his limitations against left-handed batters make that a terrifying proposition. While his luck against right-handed batters will likely improve (RHB's had an 18.9% infield hit rate against Redmond in 2013), teams who face the Blue Jays will stack their lineups with lefties and have success. Being an extreme fly ball pitcher in the Rogers Centre is dangerous enough. Taking that act on the road in the AL East is even worse. Combining that tendency with a lack of ammunition to get out left handed batters is downright suicidal.

If the offseason had gone the way that Blue Jays fans, and maybe even Alex Anthopolous, had imagined no one would have to be thinking about Todd Redmond right now. Unfortunately, we are in a place where he's one of the favorites to open the season with the team. This might be a good time to pray for the swift arrival of Marcus Stroman.

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