Which Gavin Will Come Back, and When?
By Matt Adams
On the heels of solid performances from spot starters utilizing starts that would have otherwise been made by Gavin Floyd, we receive news that Floyd is working towards a return. Coming off of a 20 pitch bullpen session (I threw 20 pitches to an 11 year-old yesterday, btw and can report no pain), Floyd said it’s a step in the right direction.
Upon his last return from the disabled list, Gavin was effective in different ways for a couple of starts, before tailing off to the point that it was clear he couldn’t go on. The first two games he allowed 2 and 1 earned run, respectively, while going 6+ innings in each, but he was walk heavy and didn’t miss many bats, striking out a total of 2 batters in those starts. From there we are looking at 3 starts in which he got the walks down, 6 in three starts as opposed to 11 in previous two. The strikeouts started coming at a rate of over 6 a game. While all but one of these qualify as “quality starts,” the numbers suggest that his route to quality may have depended on whether or not the opposing team was interested in swinging the bat. I’m guessing the swing rate depended greatly on if that Gavin Floyd curveball was active or not. Yes? High strikeout, low walk. No? Low strikeout high walk.
What happened in his two final starts before being re-shelved I hope tells us that the elbow started feeling iffy. 4 runs allowed in 4 and a third innings. Over two starts. Yes, that means something is wrong and that was that. So when Floyd comes back, assuming he isn’t rushed, and he is throwing at close to full strength, are we still going to be watching the same “any given start” kind of guy? I often try to figure out, on the day of his starts, if the weather is curveball friendly, if there are any other elements at play that could help take some of the guesswork out. I’ve never figured out what the precise conditions that make for a quality Gavin outing are, but I do know that a healthy elbow is necessary, and we have definitely seen that Floyd does have the ability to be a force in the rotation.
As far as how long it will take for him to come back, that is still in question, and who will be making Floyd’s next start is Robin’s choice, but still everyone else’s guess. Hector Santiago and Dylan Axelrod, who performed well in their last (or first, in the case of Santiago) starts, but Philip Humber is also a possibility to return to the starting scene. Somebody’s got to do it. Less than a month of games left, and the slimmest of leads on the division.