Gaudin On The Move (Again)

With their fifth starter spot still something of a question mark, the Yankees added some more depth yesterday by acquiring Chad Gaudin from the Padres. It’s hard to believe the well traveled Gaudin is only 26 years of age, as the Yankees will mark his sixth different franchise in the last seven years. That kind of journeyman status is usually only achieved by 35 year old lefty specialists, but Gaudin has shown enough at times to keep getting jobs but never enough to convince his employer to keep him around.

For the Yankees, he’s a nice addition, though. Don’t be swayed by his ERA in the National League, which is driven by a high BABIP and a low LOB%, neither of which are particularly good predictors of future performance. Gaudin has a solid fastball/slider combination and is extremely tough on right-handed hitters. Unfortunately, his change-up kind of sucks, so lefties give him serious problems, which is why he’s never been able to hold down a job as a starting pitcher.

Seriously, check out his career splits:

Vs RHB: 8.3% BB%, 23.8% K%
Vs LHB: 13.2% BB%, 10.8% K%

Against right-handers, he’s terrific, using his slider to generate a ton of swinging strikes, which puts him ahead in the count and gives him a real out pitch. Against lefties, the slider doesn’t work, so he just nibbles the corners and ends up walking everyone. He does a good enough job of pitching away from the strike zone that lefties don’t light him up when they make contact, but by living on the edges, he ends up as a high-walk, pitch-to-contact guy.

In reality, he’s best suited to relief work, where his problems against LHPs can be minimized, but he’s got enough endurance to start, which is why teams keep running him out there as a member of their rotation. The Yankees have said he’ll start off in their bullpen, though he might transition to the 5th starter job if Sergio Mitre keeps struggling.

Whatever role he ends up filling over the last two months, he’s certainly going to be a reliever in October if he makes the playoff roster, and he could be a pretty good one if the Yankees use right. As a right-handed specialist, he could be a real asset out of the pen. Look at him as Jeff Nelson 2.0, and use him accordingly, and New York will have added a nice piece. If they continue to force him to face lefties, though, it won’t be as pretty.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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BX
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BX
6 years 10 months ago

Honestly, wouldn’t it be a better idea to put Phil Hughes in the rotation and leave both Gaudin and Mitre in the pen, since I assume Hughes’ position on that team long term is in the rotation?

I don’t follow the Yankees closely so I might be missing something, but still.

Still a solid pickup for the Yanks (contingent on the PTBNL, of course).

snapper
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snapper
6 years 10 months ago

Of course they should move Hughes, but teams get enamored with late inning RP for some reason. You’d think everyone would realize a game lost in the 4th is just as bad as one lost in the 8th.

On Gaudin, I like the move. You’d think he’s young enough that he could still improve the change, or develop another pitch for lefties, and develop into a decent #4-5 SP. And, the Yankees control him for a couple more years.

Tom B
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Tom B
6 years 10 months ago

i disagree with both posts above, there is no reason to move hughes out of the pen. it would take almost 2 weeks to stretch his arm back out, and we have no one in the bullpen we can trust with the 8th inning duties. there is no need for a 5th starter in the playoffs, so he would then have to go BACK in the pen… totally screwing his arm up.

the yankees only need a 5th starter 10 times between now and the end of the season. if we can win half of those games with then it doesn’t hurt anyone.

snapper
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snapper
6 years 10 months ago

I completely disagree. There’s no need for an adjustment period. Starters pitch out of the pen plenty of times in the postseason.

Let him start and give you as many IP as he can until he tires. He probably goes 3, then 4-5, the 5-6 in his first three starts. That’s more than Mitre is giving you.

Coke and Aceves are fine in the 8th. Robertson is OK too. Losing 2-3 extra games in the 8th is fine if you make it up in the 10 starts.

The most important factor is what if a SP gets hurt? Then you need Hughes to start in the playoffs. If he’s not stretched out, you’re left with Gaudin starting game 4.

Dannux
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Dannux
6 years 10 months ago

The Yanks are getting closer and closer to locking up a playoff spot. I think they can afford to go with lesser pitchers in the number 5 spot and use Hughes in his current role. They have won 3 of Mitre’s 4 starts, partly because they rake, partly because their pen behind him has been effective. They don’t need Hughes in the playoffs as a starter at all-it will be CC, AJ, Joba, Pettite. So having him stay in that role is probably the best thing for their chances this year.

You can say that starters/relievers don’t need an adjustment period, but Aceves got stretched out with a 3 inning relief stint, then had a bad start, and hasn’t pitched well in relief since and has suffered from shoulder fatigue. At least in that instance, it is possible that moving back and forth messed him up.

Tom B
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Tom B
6 years 10 months ago

how is there no adjustment period? he’s our 8th inning guy, pitching 2 out of every 3 days. you are going to tell me that waning back to a 5 day rotation, then ramping back up to pitching every other day isn’t going to effect him? you are clueless.

it’s an awful load of risk to put on hughes’s arm to win an extra 3 or 4 games at best. it’s only 10 starts it’s not nearly serious enough to disrupt someones routine.

if an SP gets hurt, with all the extra off days you can play in the playoffs with 3 starters.

his name is CC and he is god.

Karl
Guest
6 years 10 months ago

Jeff Nelson 2.0 seems a little generous for Gaudin. As the article points out, Gaudin can’t handle lefties very well which doesn’t bode well for the right-center seats at Yankee Stadium.

Look, Gaudin was shelled (4-10 with a 5.13 ERA) while pitching at one of the top pitchers parks in the game. Now he moves to arguably the toughest division in baseball and has DHs to worry about. Cashman calls the Gaudin trade an insurance policy and the Yankees do give up nothing, probably player to be named later. I’d still much rather have Mitre at the #5 then Gaudin. You guys agree?

Karl Moats
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snapper
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snapper
6 years 10 months ago

I like Gaudin better, if only for the career 7 K/G rate, vs. 5.4 for Mitre.

Not David
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Not David
6 years 10 months ago

Your shameless self promotion is incredibly tacky.

Rob in CT
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Rob in CT
6 years 10 months ago

I like the pickup. The perfect-world scenario is to have him replace either Hughes or Aceves in the bullpen and have one of those guys replace Mitre in the rotation. The Yankees apparently have decided that Hughes will stay in the ‘pen (sigh), and Aceves has had some fatigue issues (gosh, I wonder why?), so they very well may end up running Gaudin out there as a starter. If they do, I hope they pick the right opponent.

I think this is about Joba’s innings limit too. Even if (miracle of miracles) Mitre pitches well enough to hold down the #5 spot, they are going to need some spot starts to prevent Joba from blowing right past his limit. Their in-house options are either in the bullpen (Hughes, Aceves), hurt (Kennedy), or aren’t ready (and/or never will be).

Alex
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Alex
6 years 10 months ago

People who say we don’t need a 5th starter in the playoffs are missing the point! We do need a 4th starter. Who’s that going to be? Probably not Joba. He’s already almost up to his innings limit. So, why not just switch Joba and Hughes the rest of the way. Joba gets to dominate in the late innings, and Hughes gets to stretch out his arm, and then come the playoffs both spots are filled. I just don’t want Sergio Mitre/Chad Gaudin/Kei Igawa to be our 4th starter in October, and I don’t think it’s realistic to see Joba as that solution given the number of innings he’s at already.

steve
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steve
6 years 10 months ago

it will be Joba.

they will skip him a few times and he will pitch in the playoffs. Cashman said this a few days ago.

Andrew
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Andrew
6 years 10 months ago

Why do we need to have a 4 man rotation in the playoffs? I don’t get that at all nor can I think of a single argument for it. CC can easily pitch on 3 days rest.

fanOFdefenseAGAIN
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fanOFdefenseAGAIN
6 years 10 months ago

I don’t get the problem with Sergio Mitre…

If his K rate rebounds at all, he will be a GB machine with a servicable K/BB. His FIP is currently 4.5ish and he has a 14% HR/FB rate.

Perhaps the Yankees infield defense is still somewhat unfavorable for a groundball pitcher, but he should be fine.

A stroke of genius, however, would be to pick up Smoltz from the Red Sox. His assignment is shocking. Clearly, I believe in xFIP.

steve
Guest
steve
6 years 10 months ago

I can’t even tell if this is satire or not.

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