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Fun With Splits (or why Andrew Cashner is a reliever)

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

If you missed it tonight, SP prospect Andrew Cashner had an impressive season debut for AA Tennessee, striking out 7 straight batters to start the game. He would go on to mow down 9 out of his first 10 and 10 total over his 4.1 innings of work.

The only problem with was that he fell apart in the 5th inning. He allowed two baserunners and a three-run home run before recording an out, and was yanked from the game after another single. 

Final line: 4.1 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 earned runs, 10 strikeouts.

That's kind of a problem when you think about it. On a night when Cashner was absolutely dominant, he couldn't even qualify for the win and finished with an ERA north of 6.

It got me thinking: How typical is it for Cashner to wear down early? Thanks to minorleaguesplits.com, we can investigate.
Andrew Cashner splits.png

That's a pretty concerning graph. His K's decrease nearly every inning, dropping sharply after the 2nd. His control seems to abandon him also after the third inning, and there's hardly even any data after the 5th. Part of that is the club keeping his pitch count down, but part is also him just not making it that far.

Here's one more:

Andrew Cashner KBB.png

Cashner's strikeout to walk ratio is downright scary in it's consistent decline. He falls below league average after the second inning, and hits 1 in the 4th.

So what does this all mean?

Well, it seems that even when he's starting Cashner is pitching like a reliever, coming out strong with his best stuff and gradually losing it as he goes.

It's possible that he's still learning how to pace himself and that this data will correct itself over the next year, but it's more likely that he just doesn't have the ability to be a starter at the MLB level.

With the Cubs bullpen needing help anyway, him shifting to the pen late this season would seem to be the best move for everyone.

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2 Comments

GW said:

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Good stuff here, Matt.

Doogolas said:

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... OK, I'm not sure if replies are delayed or mine just didn't work. But I wouldn't pay too much mind for those numbers. His numbers were MUCH more evenly spread (though not as stellar) when he moved to AA. But a drop off is to be expected. He didn't even start going to the 6th until he was moved to AA for that matter. And in his 6th inning games he struck out 5 in the four 6 inning outings he made. So he's perfectly capable of bringing it later.

I think we just need to watch it this year. Last year was the first transition. And this was just his first start of the year and he still kicked ass for four straight innings. Pitchers have blow up innings. It's quite possible if it was the MLB he finishes that inning and then continues for another one and does quite well.

Patience is pretty key when you're converting someone from closer to starter. So I'd be a little more patient than dubbing him a RP now.

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