Friday, May 31, 2013

Jake Buchanan is Dealing

In case you're not paying attention to anything we've been saying, Jake Buchanan is The Troof. How? Let's look back at the progression of Buchanan's career thus far:

Selected out of NC State in the 8th Round of the 2010 draft, 243rd overall. For the Wolfpack in 2010, Buchanan was 8-5, throwing 105IP, 112H/45ER, 95K:27BB with two complete games.

NC State assistant coach Tom Holliday said:
Jake can pitch for anybody in the country. If I had one word to describe Jake Buchanan, he's a pitcher. I wish I had 12 others, and some kids are on the way to that. He kind of sets the bar high for our pitching staff.

Buchanan, the day after he signed with the Astros:
I see players already in the big leagues, like Buster Posey and Gordon Beckham that I've pitched against just a year or two ago. It makes me think I could be there soon.

He began his pro career with Tri-City and went 4-5 with a 4.28 ERA/1.31 WHIP (3.30 FIP), striking out 6.2 batters per nine innings, walking 1.62 per nine. He skipped Lexington and went straight to Lancaster in 2011.

Buchanan went 5-10, though with a 3.91 ERA (3.51 FIP) - impressive for the Cal League - mainly by inducing ground balls in a league where fly balls can whip you. His 3.91 ERA was 5th among Cal League pitchers who threw 150+IP (perhaps you've heard of Oakland's Dan Straily? His ERA was 3.87)...and did it at 21 years old. How did he find success? By adding a cutter:

I've been using a cutter more than before. It's really helped me. The more success I've had with it, the more I've used it. 

His 2011 success earned him a California League All-Star nod as well as the Organizational Pitcher of the Year award from the Astros.

In 2012, Buchanan started the season at Double-A Corpus, where he went 5-9 with a 4.96 ERA/1.52 WHIP, suffering from a .346 BABIP. (Of course, Baseball-Reference's minor-league splits pages aren't working, or we could get a better sense of the issue. So, this can be updated.) We do know, however, that Buchanan's FIP in 2012 was a much more manageable 3.90 - indicating that there was a decent about of bad luck in play, as well.

Fast forward to 2013.

Here are his gamelogs:
G1: 3IP, 3H/0ER, 0K:0BB
G2: 5IP, 3H/2ER, 6K:0BB
G3: 5IP, 4H/2ER, 2K:1BB
G4: 5IP, 2H/0ER, 0K:0BB
G5: 5IP, 2H/0ER, 4K:1BB
G6: 2.2IP, 3H/1ER, 0K:0BB
G7: 5IP, 3H/0ER, 4K:0BB
G8: 3.2IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:0BB
G9: 5IP, 2H/0ER, 4K:0BB
G10: 4IP, 1H/0ER, 2K:0BB
G11: 5IP, 5H/0ER, 5K:1BB
G12: 5IP, 7H/0ER, 3K:1BB
G13: 5IP, 1H/0ER, 4K:0BB

Catch that? The last earned run that Jake Buchanan has allowed was on April 26 - a span of 32.2IP - while getting 23K:2BB - a span of 115 batters who haven't crossed the plate (charged to Buchanan - there was an unearned run on May 22). We can go back even further to say that Buchanan has allowed just one earned run in his last 45.1IP.

If it wasn't for a 38-year old Rob Cordemans*, Buchanan would have the lowest ERA in all of the Minors. Only one domestic minor-league pitcher has a lower WHIP than Buchanan's 0.69 - and that's Lancaster's Michael Dimock, who has posted a 0.64, but in 42.2IP fewer innings.

*Cordemans actually is an interesting story: He has pitched in the Holland his entire career, which didn't start until he was 32 years old. In his debut season, he had a 3.88 ERA/1.23 WHIP. In the six seasons since then, his ERA hasn't been over 1.00, even throwing over 77IP in each of them. His K:BB ratio in 2011 and 2012? 12.70 and 18.80, respectively. What kind of witchcraft is that? And why hasn't he been signed yet? In 2012 Cordemans threw 80.2IP, allowing 53H/2ER, 94K:5BB. 0.22 ERA/0.72 WHIP. And he actually lost a game.

The strikeouts aren't there - he has 35K in 58.1IP, but he also only has four walks on the season. 206 batters faced, he's walked four of them. If we're going to try to not make this gushy/gooey fanboy post, you can look at the BABIP - .209. That's Ridiculously Low, so his defense is definitely bailing him out. That said, his FIP is 2.75 - which is the lowest of his career.

I don't know where Buchanan goes from here. Clearly, at 23, he is straight dominating Double-A. But he's probably not moving up until one of Cosart or Wojciechowski comes up to Houston from OKC. Let's just enjoy it and marvel. For now.