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Make no mistake, Garrett Crochet is a stud

by Tim Moran

Stop looking at only ERA to judge a pitcher. Stop looking at only ERA to judge a pitcher. Stop looking at only ERA to judge a pitcher. Stop…ok you get the picture. Just stop doing it! You’re making Garrett Crochet sad.

Seven starts into the season, the 24-year-old Crochet is sporting a rough ERA. That mark is 5.97 to be exact, alongside a 1-4 record following Monday’s narrow defeat to Minnesota. Normally, this would indicate major struggles for the southpaw. But dig just a little deeper, and you’ll see that Crochet’s nasty stuff is playing far better than it looks at first glance.

Breaking it down

Remaining in the realm of traditional stats, look no further than his stellar 1.10 WHIP (walks + hits/innings pitched) and league-leading 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings. The lanky lefty is keeping runners off the basepaths and missing bats, which is an excellent recipe for success. Of the top 25 qualified pitchers by K/9, Crochet (the leader) is the only one with an ERA over 5.00! Looking at WHIP, Crochet ranks 27th best, yet is the only arm in the top 50 of the list with an ERA over 5.00. It makes no sense. Or rather, it’s laughably unsustainable.

How can he be surrendering so many runs? Unfortunately, the runners that have reached have tended to come in bunches and accompany a home run. That’s bad luck more than anything else. How misfortunate exactly? Well, Crochet is the victim of an abysmal HR/FB (homer/flyball) rate of 18.9%, a stat largely attributed to luck. That extreme of a rate is destined to fall, as the league average is 10.8%. Further, he is posting a 56.3 LOB% (left on base), far below the 70.3% league average. Crochet likely needs to keep a cooler head when under pressure, sure, but luck is undoubtedly playing a big role.

Let’s take a look at his Baseball Savant profile.

See all those high percentiles and pretty red sliders? That indicates a damn good pitcher. He’s limiting barreled balls, avoiding walks, inducing whiffs, and tossing the ball with some oomph. Given time, positive regression will set in and opposing offenses will struggle to cross the plate.

Looking ahead

Obviously, there’s room for improvement. Crochet may need to increase his changeup usage to keep hitters guessing, as it’s sitting at just 6.1% despite being super effective. Developing that into a reliable fourth pitch will move mountains for Crochet. Additionally, the slider is getting hit harder than one may expect, allowing a .317 xWOBA and five of the eight home runs. It’s simple there, the southpaw has to locate better and keep it off the plate.

Without any improvement, though, Crochet still has the look of a mid-3s ERA pitcher. That would be phenomenal for the opening season of a reliever-turned-starter experiment. It may take some time for the positive regression to polish the ERA up, but who cares? The South Siders aren’t competing this year and it’s far more important to see Crochet succeed in general.

The moral of the story, Garrett Crochet is a rotation piece to be excited about. Ignore the box score and allow yourself some optimism, Sox fans. We all certainly could use some!

Follow us @SoxOn35th for more throughout the season!

Featured Image: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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