First Pitch: Jeanmar Gomez is the New Kevin Correia

I’m what you call a cord cutter. I don’t have cable or DirecTV. A few years ago I discovered that all of the shows I watch were either on Netflix, or on Hulu Plus the next day. And since I never watched shows the night they aired, the “next day” part of Hulu didn’t matter to me. So I was faced with paying $15 per month for Netflix and Hulu, or paying over $100 more per month for DirecTV for the same content. I decided to get rid of the subscription, which resulted in two things. One, I saved $1000 a year. Two, I keep getting really creepy, ex-girlfriend like letters from DirecTV.

Seriously. If you leave DirecTV, their marketing approach is to send you weekly letters that sound like you just broke up with your girlfriend and she can’t get over you. “We want you back”. “We miss you”. “We’ll change”. Take a hint. I don’t want to be with you, DirecTV. Please get your satellite dish off my house. Also I want my favorite shirt back.

The one problem with cord cutting is that I needed to find a way to watch Hulu and Netflix (plus and every other app) on my TV, rather than my laptop. I had two choices. Buy a TV with internet apps, or buy a Roku for several hundred less. I was “meh” about the idea of a TV with internet apps, but once I got the Roku I felt it was the greatest invention ever. In reality, it was only doing the same thing as the TV with internet apps, only the Roku plus my TV was cheaper than the same TV with internet apps included.

Jeanmar Gomez has been a huge boost for the Pirates, but he's also a regression candidate. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
Jeanmar Gomez has been a huge boost for the Pirates, but he’s also a regression candidate. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

That’s kind of the situation with Jeanmar Gomez right now. After tonight’s game I wrote about how he’s the new Kevin Correia. I got a few comments against Correia, saying he never performed like this, or that Gomez has been better, or that Gomez is more likeable. I didn’t need the comment to know that last one was true. I’m not saying Correia wasn’t likeable. I’m saying Pirates fans like Gomez more than they liked Correia, even though they’re both doing the same thing.

After tonight, Gomez has a 2.30 ERA in 43 innings. Most of those innings have come against easy opponents. However, he faced a tough Detroit lineup tonight, and went seven shutout innings. That’s impressive. The downside is that he’s been lucky. His xFIP is 4.27, which is two runs higher than his ERA. That’s due to a lucky 85% strand rate and a very low .203 BABIP. Gomez won’t continue with those numbers, and as a result, his ERA won’t continue at this pace. I think most people expect that though.

It was the same situation with Kevin Correia. Last year he started the season with a 3.47 ERA in his first 36.1 innings. The only problem is he had a low BABIP (.208) and a high strand rate (77%), which led to a 4.39 xFIP. He was due for a regression. It was the same story in 2011 when he started with a 2.91 ERA in his first 46.1 innings.

The key difference between Correia and Gomez is cost. Gomez is the Roku. He’s the cheaper option who does the same thing. Your expectations weren’t as big because you didn’t have as much invested, so seeing him do the exact same thing as the more expensive option is somewhat of a surprise. The combination of low expectations and favorable results at a lower price leads to the feeling that Gomez is better than Correia.

Correia is the more expensive TV with internet apps. He does the same thing as a Roku and a TV without apps, but he costs more, so you expect a good performance. Anything above and beyond is dismissed because you want to see value from the money you spent.

In the end Gomez is probably better from a value standpoint, but he’s the same pitcher as Correia. They both had strong stretches with signs that it wouldn’t continue. It didn’t for Correia. It won’t for Gomez.

The reason I’m saying this is because the Pirates will have to make a move soon. They’ll have Charlie Morton returning to the rotation in about two starts, giving Gomez one more turn in the major league rotation. The smart move is Morton in the rotation and Gomez moving to a long relief/spot starter role. That’s probably not an exciting trade off, since Morton is coming off a bad rehab outing in his last start, and Gomez keeps defying the odds and putting up strong numbers in the rotation. Morton is also coming off a horrible 2012 season, although he abandoned his two best pitches (sinker and curve) because it hurt to throw them. So I’m not really looking at the 2012 season as an indicator of what he’s capable of.

Gomez does have an xFIP this year that’s in the range of a strong number four starter. In his career his xFIP has been in the 4.50 range, which is also good for a back of the rotation starter. But Morton can be better than that, without potential regression. Gomez has been a great story, and a huge boost for the Pirates. But going forward the smart thing to do is to remove the “value” thinking and just look at Gomez for what he is. He’s a cheaper version of Kevin Correia. That’s a great thing to have for depth throughout the year, and I’m sure the Pirates will use him again in the rotation at some point (he is league minimum eligible next year). But he’s also a huge regression candidate, and doesn’t have the upside that Morton has. So what he’s done has been great, and even after his regression he’ll have value in the majors. It just happens that the Pirates have better options to turn to.

I will add this final thought: I looked at Gomez, then I looked at Jeff Locke — another regression candidate. Both starters have xFIP numbers in the same range. Gomez is also three months younger than Locke, which is surprising and something that’s easy to forget. He has almost 250 innings in the majors over four seasons, but Gomez is still the youngest member of the rotation. So perhaps a more interesting debate would be “Gomez or Locke” and not “Gomez or Morton”. But that will be a debate for another time.

Links and Notes

**The DraftStreet freeroll is back! One Day FREE Fantasy Contest – $300 in cash prizes. Join today!

**The newest Pirates Prospects Podcast is up and available for download or streaming. P3 Episode 5: Polanco the Top Prospect? Can Pirates Keep Winning? Mark Melancon Interview.

**The podcast will have some changes starting this week. Each week the podcast has been about 70 minutes, and has included minor league and major league talk. Starting this week we’ll be running two smaller shows per week. We will still have an episode each Friday, talking about the major league team. This show will consist of the segment with myself, Tom Bragg, and James Santelli. We will also have a second episode each week talking about the minor leagues. That will include input from our minor league writers, as well as draft and international signing discussions. Each episode will be about 30 minutes on average. So it will be the same content each week, just broken up throughout the week to make things easier for everyone. You don’t have to carve a little over an hour of time out of your day. I don’t have to spend an entire day editing one long podcast (instead editing over part of several days, which I think will be better). Right now I’m thinking the second show will go up on Mondays.


**Baseball America Unveils Top 500 Draft Prospects.

**New Mock Draft Has Familiar Names For Pirates.


**Keith Law Ranks Three Pirates Among Top 25 Prospects.

**Stetson Allie, Matt Hague, and Alen Hanson Win Player of the Week Awards.

**Injury Notes: Barrett Barnes, Alex Dickerson, Ryan Beckman.

**Prospect Watch: Oliver and Glasnow Have Big Control Problems; Lots of Power in Indy.

**Minor League Schedule: Taillon Take The Hill, Morning Game For The Power.


**Jose Contreras to the DL, Bryan Morris Recalled.

**Walker’s Homer Breaks Stalemate, Pirates Beat Tigers 1-0.

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The Corriea removal was a colossal mistake last year. Removing Gomez now would be another colossal mistake, you don’t jump ship unless the emergency has actually arrived. Projections based on a couple of stats do not tell you enough about what is going to happen to Gomez in the future. Those stats are made from man made results as well as Gomez actual results.
As far as the big park, how many balls even came near the wall when Gomez was pitching, seems to me he has pitched in some homer friendly parks this year and done alright.
Here are the weak teams that Gomez has been on the mound against to be fair all these teams don’t have winning records.
1. D-Backs
2. Reds
3. Braves
4. Cards
5. Brewers
6. Mariners
7. Mets
8. Astros
9. Cubs
10. Tigers
That is 11 runs in 40 innings of pitching
The team that hit him the most was the Astros.
He can’t get on the field against tougher competition.
The Reds and Cards have the best records in baseball and the Tigers have the best hitting team in baseball. Sometimes the weaker teams are the tougher teams for certain pitchers, just depends on matchups, who is playing that day and the plate umpire.
If Gomez regresses it will be because of him wearing down and no other reason. If and when he starts getting hit around a decision should be made then not now, until then his performance warrants him staying in the rotation, especially since he is pitching better most of the other starters.


It’s an interesting thought–even if Gomez’ numbers start falling ln line with what hs xFIP/normal luck would suggest, those aren’t bad numbers for a fourth or fifth starter.


I enjoy reading about advanced statistics and find them extremely useful and informative. However, I completely disagree with your suggestion that the “smart move” would be to remove Gomez after one more start and replace him with Morton based solely on his xFIP. That’s giving xFIP far too much sway over actual results.

First, as others have mentioned, Morton’s xFIP — even in his best year — wasn’t much better than Gomez’s is right now. Second, there is no way that the Pirates will pull a guy with a 2.15 ERA as a starter from the rotation simply on the basis of expected regression in the future — nor should they — unless they feel that they have a sure-fire replacement who will do as well or better than Gomez has done. That’s not Morton — at least not yet.

The smart move is for the Pirates to ride out Gomez’s hot hand — if that is all that it is — and if he regresses to the point where they feel Morton or someone else would be better, replace him then. But to replace him now when Morton has not shown that he’s back to his 2011 form — which again, wasn’t much better in terms of xFIP than Gomez this year — would be foolhardy. It would also send the wrong message to the players that advanced stats trump actual results on the field.


I’m not sure any park is that pitcher friendly when the home team’s lineup includes Cabrera and Fielder — but I get your point and I agree that Gomez is due to regress, but when and by how much are the big questions.

In my opinion, even if he’s just been very lucky, you ride that out until he actually does regress. Actual results have to mean something, don’t they?



I do have a question. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t like BAP and XFIP as measurements for performance. Literally, the amount of people you get out vs. the runs you give up are the only thing that matters. Luck or no luck, results are all that matters in a game built on wins and losses. That being said, why can’t some pitchers consistently deliver results of high strand rates and it just be because they are sinker ball pitchers who induce lots of double plays, have an infield with lots of range, and also lots of movement on the pitches which keeps hard hit balls to a minimum. I would think that a lot of sinker ball pitchers would naturally show as regression candidates based on the measurements limitations, and be completely off-base. Might it also be that some pitchers simply may pitch better from the stretch or with the added focus that having runners on employs? I’m certain there are plenty of pitchers who consistently are able to do that, so is it only discounted here because up until now, Gomez hasn’t done it in the past? If he continued for 3 seasons with a low batting average on balls in play and high strand rate, would that change the thinking?


I’m not that worried about the pitching and who is starting what the Pirates need is some players like Lyle Overbay.


I’m of the mind of having Morton come back as the long man in the pen actually, work him back in slowly and let him prove he can be valuable back in the starting rotation. That way it still supports what Gomez and Locke are doing while seeing if they can continue to keep it up and not just pulling them because the depth chart says so. We might as well ride the wave Gomez and Locke are on until one of them regresses and THEN let Morton back in. Thoughts on this?


Jeanmar Gomez is 25 and has been a starting pitcher for Cleveland since he was 22. He has started 40 games in the majors compared to 80+ starts of the 29 year old Charlie Morton. All he does is throw quality starts – and I do not care why or how. He pitched well enough in ST with the Pirates to earn a spot in the bullpen, and was in the right place at the right time. For my money, he gets two more starts and then Gerrit Cole is promoted and pitches the home game against the SF Giants in mid-June, and gets a 2nd start at home against the Dodgers that weekend. Morton is not enough of a pitcher to displace a kid with a hot arm – Gerrit Cole is and the Pirates need not pass up this golden opportunity – and when Cole is promoted, there’s a guy named Taillon that needs to be promoted to AAA.

Marco Rincones

Makes you wonder how Cleveland feels right now when they look at how well J Gomez is hurling. The Pirates traded who to get Gomez in return?


Tim: You know I have been watching especially those games where he starts out bad and then throws 6 no-hit innings. He has the arm and the repertoire – now he needs the maturity that can come more easily on a staff where he can learn from some excellent veterans – both pitchers and pitching coaches, veteran MLB Catchers, and 30,000 fans – Give him wings and challenge him. There are teams in MLB where he would have already been in the Rotation.


Extrapolation of results at one level to another level is not a given in MLB. And have you considered that he is the #12 MLB Prospect right now and we either promote him soon or risk the dreaded “did we make a mistake” by drafting him questions? He will be in the ‘burgh soon.


I’ve been comparing him to the Jeff Karstens of two seasons ago. A limited pitcher that suddenly figured out how to get things done with so-so stuff. Has issues maintaining his stuff when pitch count is elevated so he has to be efficient to go deep in games. By the way, Ray Searage seems to do his best work with sinkerballers so it shouldn’t be that surprising that both Jeanmar Gomez and Vin Mazzaro have found the most major league success of their careers this year.


Right now I am not spending much time worrying about History or the Future.
I kind of like the present, one game at a time.
1. Isn’t it odd how many pitching prospects show up in Pittsburgh and with a little tweeking they turn into solid pitchers. I prefer to classify Gomez as a solid pitcher right now, every pitcher in baseball is subject to change, many pitchers throughout history have transformed themselves with experience and some changes, into very good pitchers, Gomez has the talent level to be a very good pitcher.
2. I don’t know what they are doing with the pitchers that the Bucs bring in off the scrap heap, but I have to give some credit to the coaching staff, there game planning for pitchers is excellent.
3. There are no bad teams in baseball, every lineup has 3 or 4 hitters that can kill you, it is a game of matchups.
4. I have seen one team play an awful game against Pittsburgh this year and I have seen every game.
5. I refuse to use FIP or xFIP with very young and inexperienced pitchers, they are constantly changing something.


I was thinking the same thing this morning regarding pitchers coming to Pittsburgh and improving. It has happened often enough that Ray Searage should get some credit. One thing that makes me hesitate to give him too much credit though is how the pitching has started really well the last two years and then regresses (or crashes) in the last 2 months.

The Pirates are off to an excellent start this year but I’m not going to get too excited until I see them playing good baseball into August & September.

Thom Kay

I’m really not sure what Charlie Morton has done to edge out either Locke or Gomez. Morton is 29 with one good season, in 2011, and is coming off an injury. He has yet to prove that he has reached his 2011 form.

Gomez has a 4.15 xFIP since becoming a starter to go with his 2.15 ERA. Will he regress? No question in my mind. But his BABIP is low partly because he has maintained a low LD% and isn’t catching too much of the plate.

Lock, btw, has a 3.26 FIP in his last 5 starts. He’s getting more Ks, fewer BBs, and keeping the ball in the park. He had to either regress sharply or improve. He improved.

Bryan Graham

Interesting, Morton had a lower xFIP in 2012 than he did in 2011. 4.04 vs. 4.08. I thought that meant that Morton was better in 2012 and just unlucky.


I think an important caveat for articles like this is that these “problems” tend to work themselves out before management’s hand is forced to make a decision. All it takes is one tight hamstring or oblique.



Isn’t FIP highly influenced by K/9?

He’s getting through innings with very low pitch counts. He went 7 innings in 76 pitches last night and was through 4 innings the other day against the Cubs in 30 something. This tells me that a lot of guys aren’t even getting to 2 strikes. It’s hard to have a high K/9 if everyone is flying or grounding out.


exactly…but the reason he stands due for a regression is that his babip is only .202 which is unsustainable. at some point, all of the balls that get put in play against him will start to drop in for hits instead of going straight to one of our fielders. FIP takes his low k/9 rate and low babip and projects him at some point to let up more runs

Mike Morgan

Gomez benefited from that huge Comerica Park Center Field (and Cutch fielding) earlier in the game, which is very Correia-like. But later in the game, he mostly had the Tigers hacking and making weak contact. Also, how often did Correia, get through 7 innings with less than 100 pitches?

Lee Young

So now we have TWO starting pitchers who are gonna regress because of FIP?

Who cares. 🙂

I’ll take 3 more if you don’t mind.

Bryan Graham

I don’t know the numbers, but I wonder is Burnett’s FIP for the first half of last season showed that he would most likely regress as he certainly did in the second half of the season. I also just checked Morton’s xFIP for 2010-2012 and it is 4.11, 4.08, and 4.04 which to me means that Morton is only very slightly better than Gomez. If xFIP is the determining factor in who starts, I just don’t see Morton being so overwhelmingly better to pull a guy who has been getting the job done. The only reason Morton gets inserted back into the lineup is because of the all mighty $.

Lee Young

Re: FIP…isn’t it very likely that one or two bad outings can get your ERA and FIP closer together? If that is all it takes, then….

FIPpant Foo

Lee Young

Tim…I have Direct TV for the sports. Not a fan of watching games on my computer or IPAD. I like them on my 50″ Sony.
However, if they ever took sports off of TV, I’d be right there with you. I DVR everything!


Lee –

I’m in exactly the situation as Tim – what I learned is that you CAN watch it on your Sony – Roku does the same thing but on your TV – has been a real kick to watch every Pirates game – whenever I want – on my TV thru Roku. Was saying to myself “yes, yes, YES!” as I read his post!

And to Tim – I SO appreciate your quality writing & thinking (thinking & writing?) on a regular basis – even when I disagree, it’s a treat to read thoughtful observations from a lucid, intelligent writer.

Okay – so I’m now registered… I guess you all are going to have to cope with me commenting from now on… lol


Good thoughts about Gomez. Would it be unusual for a team to remove a pitcher from the starting rotation on the grounds that his peripherals show that he is likely to regress? Do they do that down in Tampa? Btw: in paragraph 5, you say “His xFIP is 4.27, which is two runs lower than his ERA. ” Don’t you mean that it is 2 runs higher than his ERA?

joe g.

Gomez may have been lucky so far this season, but he didnt look lucky last night.

Bryan Graham

Correia was the best starting pitcher the Pirates had the second half of last season and didn’t deserve to be demoted from the rotation, at least he ended up being put back in the rotation. Now we have Cy Young coming back, woops, it just sounded like Cy Young. I meant Charlie Morton who has been anything but consistent in his time in Pittsburgh. Yes he has had some really strong stretches, but he has also had about as many horrendous outings. The Pirates are playing good ball right now and Gomez’s performance is part of the reason why. Now he has faced a very good lineup and shut them down and his confidence is very high. It would say very little about the Pirates if they put him back in the pen when he has clearly earned a spot in the rotation until he proves he doesn’t, it should be unquestioned. Games aren’t played on paper, unless it’s strat-o-matic, they are played in TV sets where xFIP is meaningless.


Where was all this grand, statistical analysis when you were bashing Neil Walker about a week ago? I believe you said something along the lines of “if he wasn’t a Pittsburgh kid we would be calling for his head.” Seems a bit draconian in retrospect as he’s had a pretty solid three years and traditionally starts a little slowly.


Does anyone have any numbers or ideas on how difficult a transition it would be for Walker to bat LH full-time?


Ah Ha! I’ve found one player who has been able to somewhat successfully do it….sort of

JT Snow as a RHB v. LHP: 213ba/295obp/309slg (1992-1998)

JT Snow as a LHB v. LHP: 246ba/351obp/358slg (1998-2006)


Sadly that’s most likely true…But hey if we’re not going to to platoon him he might as well start hitting with his feet against lefties. It’s ugly.

Thom Kay

Thank you for continued statistical analysis in the comment section. Much appreciated.


Tim, remember when you said X about Player Y, and then he had a good week? You were wrong! I demand a recant of said statements!


Blind certainty is the enemy reason and intellectual discussion. Fan complacency is one of the largest issues with the worst sports organization of the last TWO decades. Your savior made a foolish statement and he needed rebuked.

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