by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Brewers’ Junior Guerra emerged as one of the bright spots for the rebounding franchise in 2016. Hardly hyped, it’s easy to get excited over these types of numbers in 20 Major League starts:
100 Strikeouts (7.40 K/9)
43 Walks (3.18 BB/9)
45.3% Groundball Rate
At 31-years old it obviously is hard to get excited about his long-term outlook. That said, barring a trade the Brewers have every reason to continue utilizing him as one of their five starters, as they bridge the gap until the next generation is ready to take over. That, of course, assumes he can maintain this type of production and we all know what happens when you assume.
The BABIP immediately jumps off the page, even with an 18.9% line drive rate. There’s a good chance the number regresses, as well as his 79.4% strand rate, and that alone should give us reason to be skeptical.
You also have to wonder if there is a spike in home runs allowed coming. It’s not like he was a groundball pitcher and he certainly calls a hitter’s ballpark home, yet he allowed just a 0.74 HR/9? Something would appear like it has to give, sooner or later, and things are slanting in the wrong direction.
Surprisingly for a pitcher who didn’t generate a lot of strikeouts, he actually showed the ability to generate swings and misses with two different pitches last season (Whiff%):
Considering his 9.9 K/9 in the minors, there certainly should be hope that he can significantly improve his mark from last season. That would help to offset the other concerns, though not eliminate them completely. We’d feel much better if he could start generating more groundballs, though it’s unfortunately not something we’d bank on.
With decent, but not great, control (3.5 BB/9 in the minors) and the other potential issues looming, Guerra seems to be best fit to be a streaming option for owners in 2017. Could the potential strikeout improvement help him become more than that? Perhaps, but it’s a long-shot.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Reference
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