If I can keep it up all month, 31 days of positive posts! There's going to be enough negativity going around with the Cardinals not in the post-season.
Another Cardinals rookie gets highlighted today on my Positive October post. There are reasons statistically to caution about Austin Gomber for the future. This will not look into those. This is a left-handed starter (well, started 11 of his 29 games played) who is 24 years old. The Cardinals have (not necessarily a need, but) an opening for a left-handed starter were they to want to combat an imbalanced roster on the other team or were they wanting to have one in the rotation.
As a starter in 2018, Gomber averaged over 5 innings per game in a shortened portion of a season in which the interim-then-new manager was shortening starter's games purposefully. Gomber was able to put up a 2.41 K:BB as a starter, striking out 8.4 men per 9 innings pitched. He struck out over 20% of the men he faced as a starter. His 4.26 ERA as a starter was right about league average (4.19). His 4.30 xFIP as a starter confirmed his 4.26 ERA, but his 3.70 FIP as a starter could lead one to believe that he pitched slightly better than his actual run total against would suggest.
The Cardinals had 11 men start games for them this year. I'll shorten that list to 9 and not include the one start from Tyson Ross and the one start from Alex Reyes. Out of those 9 starters, Gomber's 20.8% K rate was 5th on the team, his 8.6% BB rate was 4th on the team, and his strand rate was 4th on the team. He very well could be a top 5 starting pitcher for this team next year moving forward.
I think that if I were the Cardinals I would tell Gomber a couple of things entering 2019. 1) He threw 51.8% of his pitches in the strike zone - nearly 2% above league average of 49.9%. The locations on them were often up in the zone and with his spin rate being below league average I would tell him to work lower more often. Why? He doesn't miss bats very often - 21.9% of the time compared to league average of 24.9%. I would also tell him: 2) Continue to work the corners, as he threw an awesome 41% of his pitches on the "edge" of the strike zone compared to league average of 39%.
Those things would help him build upon my favorite stat of his this year. Despite having an above league average percent of barreled baseballs, his average exit velocity allowed was just 86.5 mph, 1.2 mph below league average.
Positive October Day 19, in the books!
In case you missed them: