Padres sign Jon Garland

Jon Garland inked a one year deal worth $4.7 million with the San Diego Padres. The deal holds a $6.75 million mutual option for 2011. It’s startling that no other team was interested in Garland at that price.

Arizona Diamondbacks vs St. Louis Cardinals

Garland isn’t an ace, but he’s a nice back of the rotation starter to have. For San Diego and its spacious park, Garland might be able to turn in a year shades of 2005 when he went 18-10 with a 3.50 ERA in 221 innings (without the wins, though).

The right-hander has taken a hit in recent years in perceived value, and I’m not sure why. He’s an innings-eater who can soak up over 200 innings and do so without embarrassing the team. This past year, he was a Diamondback to start the year and posted a 4.27 ERA (4.79 xFIP) over 27 starts before moving to the Dodgers, where he had a 2.72 ERA (3.87 xFIP) over six starts. His 33 starts continued an eight-year trend of receiving either 32 or 33 starts and is remarkably durable.

He flashes a 90-mph fastball while mixing in a changeup and — in a departure from recent years — a cut-fastball, something he had only experimented with marginally in years past. The cut-fastball, albeit with a small sample size of 2009, reduced the amount of line drives (just over 22 percent from 2007-2008 down to 19.8) while seeing his flyball tendencies spike up from 27.8 percent in 2008 to 35 percent. The cutter ws responsible for most of his success in 2009, as it was far and away his best pitch according to Fangraph’s pitch run values. He also serves up a slider he’s put on the back burner and a curve ball.

Garland isn’t quite a flyball pitcher, but he can’t be called a groundball pitcher either as he trends towards a majority of hits given up in the air (54.3 percent in 2009), something that should benefit him greatly in San Diego. He gets enough balls on the ground that teams in hitter’s havens shouldn’t shy away from (and didn’t, as Arizona showed last year). He’s certainly not able to strike out any hitters with aplomb, but has solid control and has lived within a .300 BABIP for the last four years. In short, his numbers the last few years are no fluke.

Garland is what he is. An innings eating pitcher who can rack up a mid-4.00’s ERA (more or less, depending on the park). Given that the Mets were in need of a durable pitcher and had a pitcher-friendly park for Garland to go to, the Mets missed out on an opportunity here. Perhaps they can rectify that at the trade deadline if (or more accurately, when) the Padres start looking to sell off their veterans.

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