Friday, November 22, 2013

Don't Give Arroyo a Blue & Orange Hooded Sweatshirt

The Mets need to add a starting pitcher or two.  That much is certain.  One of the names that keeps popping up as a potential target is Bronson Arroyo.  Arroyo has been durable, making at least 32 starts in each of his last nine seasons.  And the Mets certainly need an innings-eater in 2014, especially with Matt Harvey not being able to feed himself any frames next year.  But should the Mets make Arroyo one of their top free agent targets this offseason?  If it were solely up to me, I think the Mets would be shama-lama-ding-dongs if they signed him.  Here's why.

Bronson Arroyo had excellent run support in Cincinnati.  From 2011 to 2013, Arroyo had a 4.19 ERA and allowed 104 home runs.  But he still posted a winning record (35-34) in those three seasons.  During those three seasons, Arroyo had the likes of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce in the starting lineup.  The Mets just added .235 career hitter Chris Young to become one of their top sluggers.  Needless to say, an ERA north of 4.00 won't cut it when you're depending on the Mets' lineup to give you run support.  Just ask Jeremy Hefner, who had a 4.34 ERA in 2013, but only won four of his 23 starts.

With Matt Harvey gone for the year, the Mets don't have a starting pitcher other than Zack Wheeler who can rack up strikeouts.  (Harvey and Wheeler were the only Mets starters who averaged better than 7.0 K/9 IP.)  Bronson Arroyo averaged exactly 7.0 K/9 IP during his first three seasons in Cincinnati.  But since 2009, Arroyo has failed to surpass 130 strikeouts in any season, averaging just 5.3 K/9 IP over his last 162 starts.  It's not as if Arroyo isn't throwing strikes.  It's just that his strikes aren't missing bats.  And that brings us to...

Those hits.  Oh, those hits.  From 2006 to 2010, Arroyo allowed opposing hitters to bat .259 against him.  That number jumped to .271 from 2011 to 2013.  He also failed to allow more than 31 homers in any season from 2006 to 2010.  But in the last three seasons, he has allowed more than 31 homers twice.  Arroyo gave up 46 dingers in 2011 and 32 long balls in 2013.  In both of those seasons, he led the league in taters served.

So let's talk about those taters.  Bronson Arroyo pitched eight years in Cincinnati.  That's two years short of a decade.  A total of 12 pitchers suited up for the Reds for at least a decade.  But none of them gave up as many homers as the 252 allowed by Arroyo.  In fact, prior to Arroyo, only one other pitcher had served up as many as 200 home runs as a member of the Reds.  That would be Tom Browning, who watched 234 balls sail over the wall.  However, Browning pitched 11 years in Cincinnati, making 33 more starts than Arroyo.  Yet Arroyo still gave up 18 more homers than Browning.  For a team that has been around since before the creation of the National League in 1876, Arroyo is the Reds' all-time gopher ball king.  That's not exactly something to be proud of.

Staying on the topic of home runs, it's true that Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark is a home run hitter's haven.  But Arroyo gave up nearly as many home runs on the road as he did at home.  Of the 252 homers Arroyo allowed as a member of the Reds, 130 were hit in Cincinnati, while 122 were slugged on the road.  He also has allowed five home runs at spacious Citi Field.  In just 31 innings of work.  To Mets hitters.  Former Met Jason Tyner could probably hit a home run against Arroyo if he was afforded the opportunity.

Bronson Arroyo has allowed five homers in 31 innings at Citi Field to guys who can't hit homers.

Finally, as great as Arroyo has been against the Mets in his career (8-3, 3.63 ERA, 1.08 WHIP), he has been horrible versus the rest of the NL East.  Against the Braves, Marlins, Phillies and Nationals, Arroyo is 15-19 with a 4.65 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.  Arroyo has made 11 starts against the lowly Marlins.  He's beaten them once.  And remember that run support we were talking about before?  He had plenty of that against the Braves.  He holds a fairly impressive 7-4 career record versus Atlanta, but is also the owner of a 5.14 ERA and 1.60 WHIP against the team that would become his new division rival.  Should he become a Met, he'd lose the opportunity to face the team in the division he's had the most personal success against.  And he'd also gain more starts against the teams he's been below average against.

Without question, the Mets need to fill a few holes in the starting rotation prior to Opening Day.  But as consistent as Bronson Arroyo has been over the past decade, that consistency doesn't bode well for him should he become a Met.  He'd be losing that great offensive support he's had since 2006 in Cincinnati and he'd be moving to a division where he'd have to face some of his nemeses more often.

The Mets should look elsewhere when considering which starting pitcher they'd like to bring into the fold.  They should only sign Bronson Arroyo if they have a death wish for 2014.

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