Marco came over in trade from the Brewers in November of 2014. I think it is fair to say that we weren’t thrilled with the return for Adam Lind.
I think I said something like ‘I doubt a player, who is already 31, is suddenly going to become a good MLB pitcher and, if he does, since he’ll be a free agent after 2015, if he were to become a good pitcher, I doubt we’d be able to re-sign him’. I’d look it up, but I’m sure that was my general feeling.
Well....in 2015, at the age of 31, he had a terrific season, establishing himself as an excellent major league starter, for the first time in his career. So I was wrong about the first part. Then....after the season, we signed him and I was wrong about part two as well. 0 for 2 and happy about it.
Marco started 2015 in our bullpen, and he was pretty great. In May he was moved to the rotation. He made 5 starts in May, and we lost all 5, putting up a 5.02 ERA in the 5 games. After that, he turned things around. June to the end of the season, he was 12-5 with a 2.92 ERA. He had a couple of near misses on no-hitters. He topped off the season by doing an incredible job in game 3 of the ALDS, giving us a win we badly needed. Then in game 5 of the ALCS, he was incredible again, in another game we badly needed.
After the season, our new front office, gave Estrada a 2-year, $26 million contract. We weren’t sure it was a good move. It was a fair bit of money for a 32-year old who had one good season. A few days later the Jays signed J.A. Happ and it became apparent that we weren’t bringing David Price back. We had doubts.
Year Age W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO HBP FIP SO9 Awards 2016 32 9 9 3.48 29 29 176.0 132 68 23 65 165 4 4.15 8.4 AS
We shouldn’t have.
Estrada made 3 post season starts, and had a 2.01 ERA. He had a terrific start against the Rangers, in game 1 of the ALDS. His starts in the ALCS were very good too, it wasn’t his fault that the offense couldn’t score in either game.
Baseball Reference has Estrada at a 3.4 WAR. FanGraphs puts him at 3.0, giving him a value of $24 million to the Jays. So, he’s almost full value for his 2-year deal after one season.
Batters had a .234 BABIP, up a bit from his .216 in 2015. He had 4.15 FIP and a 4.64 xFIP, both higher than his ERA. That’s two years in a row that his FIPs were quite a bit higher than his ERA. I think Marco is the type that over performs his FIP.
Compared to 2015, Marco’s Line Drive rate was up (18.3%, up from 15.5), his ground ball rate was about the same (33.5% up from 32.2) and his fly ball rate was down a bit (48.2%, down from 52.3). More of his fly balls left the park (9.9%, up from 8.7).
His strikeout rate was up (22.8%, up from 18.1) and so was his walk rate (9.0%, up from 7.6).
Marco had reverse splits (LHB hit .190/.270/.332. RHB .218/.287/.393).
He was better on the road (6-2, 3.39, .193/.259/.335) than at home (3-7, 3.57, .213/.296/.386).
He was much better in the first half (5-3, 2.93, .173/.251/.332) than the second half (.4-6, 4.27, .243/.314/.400).
Marco by month:
April: 1-2, 2.92, .239/.320/.337
May: 2-0, 2.14, .138/.217/.276
June: 2-1, 3.58, .148/.234/.339
July: 1-1, 4.24, .254/.306/.478
August: 2-2, 4.82, .268/.325/.509
September: 1-3, 3.98, .217/.301/.300
It is easy to see where his back was hurting him.
The Jays were 15-14 in his starts. His longest win streak was 4 games, running from May 25 to June 15. His longest losing streak was 3 games, his first 3 starts of September.
His best game by Game Score? He had an 80 on September 19 in Seattle. He went 7 shutout innings, allowed just 1 hits, 3 walks with 8 strikeouts, picking up a win. He also had a 79 and a 78.
His worst game by Game Score? He had a 24, August 24, at home against the Angels. He went 5 innings, allowed 10 hits, 6 earned, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts, 2 home runs, taking the loss.
Win-loss records always interest me. J.A. Happ has a 3.18 ERA and a 20-4 record. Marco Estrada has a 3.48 ERA and a 9-9 record. .3 of an earned run a game and a difference of 11 wins.
J.A. Happ averaged 6.09 innings per start. Marco Estrada averaged 6.07.
The big difference, of course, was that that Jays scored 3.95 runs per game for Marco and 6.33 runs per game for J.A. The Jays scored 9 runs or more for Happ 8 times. They did that 2 times for Estrada. For Marco the team scored less than 3 runs 9 times, for Happ 3 times.
Welcome to the fun world of random chance.
I’m sure Buck and Pat would come up with a reason why they scored for Happ and not Estrada, but really, it’s randomness of life.
Marco turns 34 next July. In OOTP Baseball I have a rule that I trade everyone by age 34. I find, as in real life, players can really only go downhill by that age. I mean, they can have a good season, but odds are they will be on the decline.
Marco, to me, looks like the type that should age well, but, he did spend a fair portion of 2016 battling a bad back. Things like that tend to come up more and more as a player ages.
The flip of side of that is that the Jays had one of the very best starting rotations in baseball last year. With the addition of an outfielder and maybe a first baseman/DH (maybe keep Bautista or Encarnacion), we could have an above average offense and a playoff contender again.
And, we could use a bridge to our pitching prospects. Conner Greene and Sean Reid-Foley could, all going well, compete for a starting job in 2018.
I enjoy watching Marco pitch. It always amazes me when someone can get by on a changeup. I mean, he throws the fastball 50% of the time, but it tops out at about 90 mph (on a good day), but it’s the changeup that makes the batters look silly.
I hope Marco gets Happ level run support next year and has a 20 win season of his own.