Ever since his breakout last year, Severino Gonzalez has been a source of much discussion. There have debates not just about his ceiling and profile, but also about how that profile fits into the value scale of a major league team. Last night Severino made his 6th start of the season, and while it is too early to write any conclusions in stone, we can start to look at emerging trends.
So lets start with the overall stats:
Obviously none of the 2014 stats have reached the point of stabilization. Overall his numbers are down, but they aren’t off the charts bad, and given his one bad start they are actually pretty good.
Moving from overall, lets look at balls in play.
Yet again, there isn’t a lot of movement. There are some differences (an increase in GB rate), but we don’t have enough data to say it is permanent. If he can keep a higher GB rate, it will help to limit the potential high home run totals posed by his raw stuff.
So if the batted ball data is pretty consistent, than the strikeout rate is where we want to look next. Here is the difference between strikeouts swinging and looking from last year to this year.
That is a sharp dropoff in strikeout swinging percentage, and from last year we can see that he was at 30.8 KS% in Lakewood and down to 20.5 % in Clearwater. I don’t know that Severino will stay down at 12%, but for reference Jonathan Pettibone was at 11.7% in his year in Reading. The main culprit here is the lack of swing miss stuff, at the higher levels pitches like Gonzalez’s curveball are going to fool hitters and more advanced hitters aren’t going chase pitches on the margins on the zone. This all being said, this really just translates to Gonzalez to being more of a 6 K/9 guy as opposed to a 9 K/9 player he was in 2014.
The other big concern for Severino was his fastball velocity. Unfortunately all I have on fastball velocity comes from 2 of Severino’s starts attended by Crashburn Alley’s Eric Longenhagen that had him 88-90, touching 92 and 88-91, with the caveat that Severino was more around 86 towards the later innings. This isn’t a game stopper, it certainly limits the overall ceiling and ability to miss bats.
Overall, Severino is off to a good start to the year. He was never going to put up the video game numbers from last year, but he can still put up a successful season with a lesser statistical season. The big things to watch going forward with Severino is whether the fastball velocity is consistent from start to start, or whether he loses it over the course of the season. The other thing is whether he can continue to refine his cutter, which looks to have plus potential, and other secondary offerings to offset the lack of fastball velocity. I still think that at best Severino is a #4/#5 starter in the major leagues, but he can do a lot for his value if he can make that a safer bet.