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Thread: Joe Biagini - Starter or Reliever?

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    Hall of Famer NJH's Avatar
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    Joe Biagini - Starter or Reliever?

    Don't look at the stats.
    You'll obviously remember that Biagini was fantastic as a reliever in 2016. He had a bag of pitches too. People thought he could probably start.
    You'll also clearly remember that he ended up being awful in 2017 as a starter.

    Look at the depth chart.
    The first four SP are clear: Stroman, Sanchez, Estrada, Happ.
    The bullpen is not clear: Osuna, Barnes, Dermody, Tepera, Loup, Leone, Carlos Ramirez. Gross - Sure there are a few intriguing arms but after Osuna every name there could conceivably be replacement level.
    Immediate minor league options for the rotation include: Borucki, Guerrieri, Pannone. Decent but not well developed.
    Immediate options for the bullpen: Greene, Reid-Foley (possible SP later), Rios, Rowley, Mayza, Girodo.
    Shittier rotation options: Harris, McGuire.
    It doesn't seem like Zeuch or Romano are realistic options in 2018.
    Clearly a #5 SP would be sweet. Clearly a good bullpen arm would be sweet. There is need on both sides. Toronto's pen is projected 24/30 and their rotation is 16/30.

    Look at the stats.
    Biagini started 18 games in 2017 and relieved in 26.
    He contributed 1.4 fWAR in 2017 in 119.2 innings, compared to 1.2 in 67.2 relief innings in 2016.
    He had a 5.34 ERA in 2017; 5.73 as a SP and 4.26 as a reliever.
    He had a 4.27 FIP in 2017; 4.36 as a SP and 4.01 as a reliever. xFIP was 4.23 as SP vs 3.79 as a reliever.
    He had a 10.6 K-BB% in 2017; 10.2% as a SP and 11.9% as a reliever.
    He had a HR/9 of 1.13 in 2017 compared to just 0.40 in 2016. He had a 1.23 mark as a SP and 0.85 as a reliever.

    Discussion and Conclusion

    The evidence against Biagini as a starter amounts to a small sample HR/FB and ERA blip. When we look at K and BB rates and DIPS, he was a relatively effective starter.
    He also wasn't that much better as a reliever. His 2016 relief performance didn't really pass the sniff-test anyway; nobody should have assumed he was a top-flight reliever based on that one season.
    A DIPS mark in the low-mid 4's equates to an average or better SP in the AL East, if the player can reliably accumulate innings. See these examples:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx...717&position=P
    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx...917&position=P
    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx...107&position=P

    There's not enough information to give up on Biagini as a starter. He still has enough intriguing characteristics to give him the chance: he seems durable, he has four pitches, his velocity transitioned fine as a SP (sitting 92/93).
    The team would benefit tremendously from the SP depth so players like Pannone, Borucki, and Guerrieri can get some AAA innings. The rotation would be set and the brass could focus on RP additions. Players like Greene and Reid-Foley could be given legitimate RP tryouts in spring training. Also, any "boost" Biagini would give the bullpen is probably not as significant as some might think/assume.

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    All Star Pendleton's Avatar
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    I recently read some sort of report that predicted Zeuch would be a big league starter by season's end, but can't remember the source.

    I saw the merit in giving Biagini a chance to start last year, but I don't think anything was gained from it. We have other options for the rotation and money left to perhaps add another. I like Biagini better in the pen and we have a lot of question marks out there without him.

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    Hall of Famer NJH's Avatar
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    Zeuch hasn't pitched above A+ and his numbers in 2017 weren't even impressive.

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    ^ Likely wasn't the best source then

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    He's mediocre either way and I find it impossible to care. Let's just dick him around between both roles until he sucks or gets hurt. Hopefully he's not so fat this season.

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    He needs to start. Almost the same XFIP as Cobb

    I wouldn't spend money on the pen either. There will be huge bargains on the back end of this crazy Free Agency

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    Pen. I don't think he has the stuff to go through a lineup multiple times.

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    4.23 xFIP last year as a starter. He wasn't that much better as a reliever. Put him in AAA as starting depth.

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    Reliever

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    Quote Originally Posted by NJH View Post
    Zeuch hasn't pitched above A+ and his numbers in 2017 weren't even impressive.
    Borucki is first up...and I think SRF is next. SRF has good stuff. I think he bounces back this year. The adversity he went through last year will him in the long run. I think he spends the first half of the year in the minors continuing to work refining his delivery, improving his command and control. I don't think he gives up as many big flies this year and if we run into injuries in the rotation I think he will get a shot at some point.

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    Put him in back in the pen. He's not good enough to start.

    *checks signature real quick*

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    Super Moderator TheHurl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terminator View Post
    4.23 xFIP last year as a starter. He wasn't that much better as a reliever. Put him in AAA as starting depth.
    I think that is the worst plan. He is better than our MLB reliever options IMO, so he needs to be in the majors. I think you treat him as a starter in Spring but I believe his versatility in the pen is more important than his innings as a starter...depending on who the 5th starter is of course.
    Quote Originally Posted by weams View Post
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    I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think he's going to have much impact either way. Rule 5 picks usually suck and unfortunately, I think we've already seen the best of Biagini. He's a depth guy who adds value because he can start or pitch in relief.

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    Very divisive.

    Biagini might be the 6th or 7th best arm on the 25 man roster right now. He's a pretty important factor for 2018.

    I think some of you are falling victim to ERA bias.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHurl View Post
    I think that is the worst plan. He is better than our MLB reliever options IMO, so he needs to be in the majors. I think you treat him as a starter in Spring but I believe his versatility in the pen is more important than his innings as a starter...depending on who the 5th starter is of course.
    I'm surprised you feel that way. Marginal improvements in the pen are secondary to starting pitcher depth IMO. Let's assume we sign a capable fifth starter. Who would our 6th starter be? Borucki? Mat Latos or someone like him again? We will likely get a full season's worth of starts from pitchers other than our initial 1-5. Biagini should be soaking most of those up. Having him stretched out and ready to go when one of our starters gets hurt (it's inevitable) seems better than jerking him around from the MLB pen to the AAA rotation for a few games and then back up to the MLB rotation. It's also a lot easier to find a reliever who would provide similar production to Biagini than it is a starter who is willing to sign for depth.

    I guess I'd also be ok with him being the long reliever in theory. Just seems like in today's game with 8 man pens there aren't many guys who manage to stay stretched out in long relief. So he'd have to do the 4 games in Buffalo to stretch out anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by saskjayfan View Post
    Borucki is first up...and I think SRF is next. SRF has good stuff. I think he bounces back this year. The adversity he went through last year will him in the long run. I think he spends the first half of the year in the minors continuing to work refining his delivery, improving his command and control. I don't think he gives up as many big flies this year and if we run into injuries in the rotation I think he will get a shot at some point.
    That's our starting pitching depth? Yikes. The average MLB team uses 10 to 11 starters a season. I'm afraid to ask who #8 and 9 are.

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