Sunday, November 3, 2013

Exit Music (For A Player): Paul Clemens

We're taking a look at the Astros who are still on the 40-Man Roster as part of our off-season Exit Music (For A Player) recap of 2013. Read the archive here. Today we take on Paul Clemens.

Acquired: Via trade on July 31, 2011 with Atlanta, along with Brett Oberholtzer, Jordan Schafer, and Juan Abreu for Michael Bourn.

35 appearances / five starts - 73.1IP.
ERA: 5.40; FIP: 5.69; xFIP: 5.07
1.47 WHIP. 75 ERA+
Baseball-Reference WAR: -0.5; FanGraphs WAR: -1.0
K/9: 6.0; BB/9: 3.2
2013 Salary: $2.13/hour + tips

Name a more erratic, wheels-off player on the 2013 team than Paul Clemens, and I'll patiently wait until you tell me that you cannot complete said task. In his ML debut, he allowed five runs on six hits - three of which were home runs and a double tacked on for good measure - and still got the win. Six days later he replaced a worthless Erik Bedard, who gave up six runs on two hits and four walks to the A's and recording one single solitary out, except this time he threw 5.1 shutout innings, allowing one hit. Pitching primarily in long relief (20 of his 30 relief appearances were four outs or longer), opponents hit .277/.332/.553, and he got sent back to OKC after giving up 4H/6ER in 0.1IP at Toronto on July 26.

And then he came back and made five starts. And in those five starts, the Astros were 0-5, though two of his starts were Quality Starts, and his ERA as a starter was 3.71 (albeit with a 1.50 WHIP - higher than the 1.46 WHIP he posted as a reliever). In 46.2IP as a reliever, Clemens walked 16 batters. In 26.2IP as a starter, he walked 10 batters. You just have no idea what to expect from Clemens.

High-Water Mark:
September 15 vs. Los Angeles. Clemens threw 7IP, 6H/2ER, 2K:1BB in 88 pitches. Of course, the Astros lost the game 2-1.

What Went Well:
*April and May. Factor out the jitters of the Major League debut, and in the next 16 appearances in April and May, Clemens allowed 23H/11ER, 24K:10BB in 29.1IP - for a 3.38 ERA/1.13 WHIP.
*When pitching ahead in the count, Clemens allowed just a .560 OPS.
*With runners in scoring position, opponents hit .259/.392/.310. The flip side of that is that he walked 14 of 79 batters w/RISP, but that's just never mind.

What Didn't:
*June and July. Sure, Clemens made 12 appearances in June and July, and didn't allow a run in six of them. But those other six? Six Earned Runs, Four Earned Runs, Three Earned Runs, Two Earned Runs, and One Earned Run (twice). He posted an 11.48 ERA/2.10 WHIP.
*Not being ahead in the count. When the batter was ahead in the count, they would post a 1.061 OPS. With an even count, the batter would post a .900 OPS. That's...not good. So I don't know if Clemens was trying to locate a strike to get back in it, and missing, or if he was trying to induce a groundball and missing, or...
*The fastball. Going by FanGraphs' pitch values, Clemens' fastball was 14.8 runs below average (Pitch F/X called it 15.0 runs below average). Among 206 ML pitchers who threw at least 70 innings, Clemens' fastball was 190th in terms of pitch value (Foreshadowing: Jordan Lyles was 199th and Lucas Harrell was 205th).

Did You Know:
*Against teams with a winning record, Clemens allowed a .743 OPS. Against teams with a losing record, opponent OPS was 1.014.
*Clemens broke Javier Lopez's Robinson Secondary School (VA) high school record for strikeouts in a game, with 16.

2014 Contract: Pre-Arbitration
2014 Outlook: Like Cisnero, I just don't know. He was far more "impressive" as a starter, if "impressive" means "totally unexpectedly decent." As a reliever, admittedly a role he hadn't had since 2010, he wasn't great. Clemens could be an Upgrade Casualty in that, if the Astros can bring in/promote enough pitchers, he may find himself out of a roster spot. If 2013 was his Prove It year, it may not bode well for his 2014.