Fangraphs / Zips / Koehler
I was waiting for Fangraphs to produce an article about how Tom Koehler was a brilliant signing by the Dodgers and they did deliver an article on Koehler. On the same day, they published the Zip projections for the Dodgers.
First, let’s talk about Koehler. He has been a lousy starter for almost all of his career and if he starts for the Dodgers one can’t expect anymore from him than if Wilmer Font got those starts instead. The Dodgers, however, have signed Tom Koehler to be a bullpen piece. Koehler pitched in relief fourteen times last year with good results but when you want to talk about small sample size, Tom Koehler as a relief pitcher could be the poster. What did the Dodger analytics group and scouts see that made them sign Koehler to a major league contract?
There’s another thing that has technically already happened. With the Marlins last year, as a starter, Koehler threw 61% four-seamers or curveballs. With the Blue Jays, he threw 82% four-seamers or curveballs. Koehler already simplified his repertoire, and I’m going to guess he’ll do that even more. In the bullpen, the fastball should play up, and Koehler generates a fair amount of rise. And the curveball has already been a weapon in the past. Koehler gets a lot of vertical drop. The four-seamer/curveball combination might be all that reliever Koehler needs.
My favorite line from the article is the last line.
Whether it works means nothing to me, but this is interesting, because it’s not an investment in what a guy is. Instead, it’s an investment in what a team thinks a 31-year-old could be.
In 2018, at least five pitchers will do excellent work that will appear to have come out of nowhere. In 2016 it was Joe Blanton, and in 2017 it was Brandon Morrow for the Dodgers. In 2018 it very well could be Tom Koehler.