2012 Revs recap: Starting pitching
This is a third of a four-part series taking a look back at the 2012 York Revolution. If you haven’t already, check out the recap of the Revs’ infield here or read the recap of outfield here. Also, I finally got around to putting up a recap of the 31 players picked up by big league clubs in 2012, which includes the final results of the what those players did with their respective affiliated and (for a pair of players) big league clubs.
Anyway, before we get to the Revs recap on starting pitching, here are a couple other noteworthy items to check out:
–Atlantic League improvements: Check out my column from Monday about what areas the Atlantic League can improve in 2013. Includes umpires, length of games and drug testing. There were a few other items that could’ve been thrown in there, but for the sake of space those were the top three for me.
–Ducks are the champs: The Long Island Ducks forced a Game 5 with the Lancaster Barnstormers and ended up taking the deciding contest by a final score of 5-4. And the Ducks won the game in dramatic fashion, getting the win run across the plate in the bottom of the ninth with two outs on a suicide squeeze. Gotta say I’m shocked Long Island pulled this off. I thought for sure Lancaster would win this in four games. Check out the full story from Lancaster Intelligencer Journal-New Era reporter Burt Wilson here. With the victory, Long Island earns its second league title and first since 2004.
–Loudoun: The Loudoun (Va) Hounds announced last week that it had reached a new financing deal and a new location for a ballpark, with hopes to begin playing in the Atlantic League in 2014. Then again, we heard much of the same news roughly this time last year, only to see things fall through. I caught up with Peter Kirk about this topic last week. Kirk is the chairman of Opening Day Partners, which owns five of the eight teams in the Atlantic League. Kirk confirmed that Loudoun is not yet an official member of the Atlantic League. Here’s what he had to say:
“The league has given them a period of exclusivity to put a deal together. That’s all they have. The league doesn’t like to have the same people running around in the same market area putting a deal together. Loudoun has done a fantastic job with marketing and positioning of the team. They seem to have most of approvals for a stadium. They seem to have their financing together. They asked the league if they can move to another sight. We didn’t really care about that part. It’s up to them as far as the location they’d like to put a park. It’s a great market and it fits geographically with the league. I hope it works out.”
Second Texas team?: Kirk also gave an update on a possible second team in Texas after the success of the expansion Sugar Land Skeeters in 2012. Kirk has stated numerous times that ODP has been working with towns in the Houston area over the past year with the goal of bringing a second Atlantic League club to the area. Here’s what he had to stay this time around regarding a second Texas club:
“I’m hopeful in 2013 we will have identified at least one more city out there. Hopefully we start bringing them into the league in 2014. That’s the plan. Hopefully we can accomplish it.”
With all of that out of the way, here’s the recap of the Revs’ 2012 pitching staff:
York started out with the rotation of RHP Corey Thurman, RHP Ryan Feierabend, LHP Chris Cody as the top four starters. Veteran lefty Jesus Sanchez eventually won the fifth spot, beating out lefty Yunior Novoa and right-handers Omar Javier and Shaun Garceau for the job.
In the end, the Revs relied on Thurman, Feierabend and Cody for most of the year, with lefty Chris Waters and righty Derrick Gordon joining the team mid-season and having decent performances with York.
Picked up: The Revs saw two starters get picked up by big league clubs during the season. The Cincinnati Reds signed Feierabend after he went 3-2 with a 3.24 ERA in seven starts for York. At Class Louisville, the lefty posted a 1-4 record and 6.75 ERA in seven starts before being released by the Reds. Feierabend then returned to York and finished the regular season with a 9-5 record and 2.70 ERA in 18 starts in the Atlantic League for the Revs.
Right-hander Shawn Hill was a bit more successful. The righty started off the year with York out of the bullpen, giving up a combined eight earned runs in two appearances. He then switched to his normal role as a starter and pitched a combined 27.2 scoreless innings, setting a new club record in the process. The Blue Jays signed Hill in June and he went on to put up a 9-2 record and 4.52 ERA at Class AAA Las Vegas. The Blue Jays called him up to the big league roster in the final week of the season. Hill made the most of his one relief appearance. Facing the New York Yankees on Sept. 29, Hill relieved Blue Jays’ starter Ricky Romero and went on to toss three scoreless innings, walking two to pick up his first major league win since 2010 – which came with Toronto. Hill became the first pitcher to return to the majors and earn a win after playing for the Revs.
Garceau, Sanchez: A pair of notable moves were made in June when York released right-hander Shauen Garceau and left-hander Jesus Sanchez. Both made significant contributions for York in the previous year or two, but had drop-offs in 2012.
In 2011, Garceau went 4-11 with a 5.45 ERA in 21 starts and 11 relief appearances going back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. He had his best stretch that year from June 29 to Sept. 11 when he went 3-3 with a 3.41 ERA in 20 games (10 starts). Additionally, he came within two outs of a complete-game shutout tossing a then career-high 8.1 IP. Two starts later he notched a complete-game shout with a four-hitter and nine Ks against the Road Warriors. In 201, Garceau was plagued by injuries all season. He first pitched for the Revs on May 4, tossing a scoreless inning in relief against Bridgeport. He would go on the inactive list the next day to recover from tendonitis in his throwing arm. He returned a month later and gave up two runs on one hit and a walk in one inning of relief against Camden on June 5. He tossed scoreless third of an inning on June 7, but was released shortly after. The right-hander moved on to the Kansas City T-Bones (American Association) and went 9-6 with a 3.47 ERAin 16 starts and one relief appearance.
The 37-year-0ld Sanchez departed York with a 6.49 ERA in six starts and four relief appearances. Sanchez was on a short leash to start the season after an unimpressive 2011 campaign with York, when he went 3-2 with a 6.67 ERA in just six starts before he abruptly left York to return to his native Dominican Republic. The former big leaguer had been struggling to return to his 2010 numbers, when he posted a 3.65 ERA in 16 starts before getting picked up by the Oakland Athletics.
The Revs also released right-hander Omar Javier after he gathered a 5.67 ERA and 1-6 record in nine starts and 13 relief appearances a year after he had a 5.65 ERA in eight starts and three relief appearances for the Road Warriors.
Spot starts: A pair of pitchers made a couple of notable spot starts during the 2012 season.
James Houser was the first. The former big leaguer came to York after sitting out the entire 2011 season because of open-heart surgery to repair an enlarged aorta. He had hopes of eventually to the starting rotation, where he spent most of his pro career prior to the surgery. The most memorable moment Houser had in his time with the Revs this season came back on June 12 when he started against Southern Maryland in place of Shawn Hill. Houser lived up to the task by tossing 2.2 innings of scoreless ball, giving up four hits while striking out two and walking one. The Revs collected just enough runs and seven pitchers combined to hold the Blue Crabs to just two runs in a 3-2 victory. York later released Houser after he went 2-1 with a 5.51 ERA in two starts and 31 relief appearances. He soon joined the Camden and finished the year with a 3-0 record and 4.01 ERA in 25 relief appearances for the Riversharks.
In the end: Right-hander Corey Thurman had another solid season. The longtime Revs’ pitcher went 14-3 with a 3.81 ERA over 27 regular season starts. He broke the club record he set in wins a year before, when he went 13-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 25 starts. The 14 wins tied three Lancaster pitchers for the most in the league. His 3.81 ERA ranked eighth in the league among starters. However, he did give up a team-high 20 homers while striking out 76 and walking 52 over 147.2 innings pitched.
Feierabend proved to be York’s ace. He accumulated 9-5 record and 2.71 ERA in 18 starts in the Atlantic League for the Revs. In between, he got picked up by the Reds and pitched at Class AAA Louisville before being cut and returning to York. He ranked third in the league in ERA among starters.
Left-hander Chris Cody finished the year with a 10-14 record and 4.38 ERA in 28 starts. Though inconsistent at times, Cody still did a good job at eating up innings, tossing a total of 164.1, which ranked seventh-most in the league. The former Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves prospect also had a steller strikeout-to-walk ratio, with 112 Ks to 29 walks.
Waters joined the Revs in mid-June shortly after the club released Jesus Sanchez. The former Baltimore Orioles starter came to York 15 months removed from Tommy John surgery to his throwing elbow. But the southpaw didn’t suffer the injury in typical fashion. Rather, it was caused in 2010 when Waters was at-bat while playing in a game for Nashville against Albuquerque, the Class AAA affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. An Albuquerque pitcher drilled Waters in his throwing arm with a pitch. Anyway, Waters had a pretty good year considering his health factors. The 32-year-old posted a 6-7 ERA and 4.38 ERA over 18 starts, striking out 59 and walking 29 in 90.1 innings of work. Among his 2012 highlights, Waters threw a complete-game one-hitter at Sugar Land on Sept. 18, marking the first time he accomplished the feat since 2008 as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. Overall, it was 10th complete game of his now 12-year pro career. He was one of three York pitchers to throw a complete-game nine inning shutout in 2012.
York acquired left-hander Derrick Gordon in mid-July from Sugar Land, where Gordon was 1-4 with a 6.43 ERA in eight starts and seven relief appearances. Gordon turned it around in York, going 5-3 with a 4.02 ERA in 12 starts.
Stay or go?: One would think Feierabend and Waters might get a minor league spring training invite with a big league club. Should that not happen, though, I’d like to see both return. Feierabend can clearly be a dominant pitcher in the Atlantic League. Waters, though inconsistent this season, should be able to improve on his 2012 numbers considering he’ll be a full two-plus years removed from Tommy John surgery at the beginning of the 2013 season. He also proved he has the veteran mindset to overcome pretty much anything considering he played the last month of the season while his younger brother recovered in a hospital from a serious motorcycle accident. In addition, both Feierabend and Waters also have the potential to get picked up by big league clubs in the near future (again, that’s the main purpose of the Atlantic League).
Thurman and Cody both win and eat up a ton of innings. Though at times it may not be pretty – the duo combined to allow 38 homers – pitchers who can find a way to win and last a long time in the process are a rare commodity in the Atlantic League. Thurman, 33, likely no longer draws the interest of big league scouts. But for reasons stated above, and the fact that he’s been great in the community and the clubhouse, he’s a perfect fit to return in 2013. Cody, 28, is just a year removed from being picked up by the Atlanta Braves in 2011. So, he has great potential to earn a big league contract if he can be more consistent in 2013.
That leaves lefty Derrick Gordon. Yes, he had a solid year – 5-3 with a 4.02 ERA over 12 starts for York – but he wouldn’t be a big loss if he doesn’t return to the Revs in 2013. Not only was Gordon inconsistent, he also didn’t go long in games – only three starts did he toss at least six innings. That can be taxing on a bullpen over a long season. Then again, Revs’ manager Mark Mason did a great job turning Gordon around after he went 1-4 with a 6.43 in 15 games at Sugar Land. Plus, Gordon is just two years removed from having a 2.63 ERA in 11 starts for the Somerset Patriots in 2011.