Gavin Floyd's struggles with damage control

Gavin Floyd's struggles with damage control
Another one of THOSE nights // Nuccio DiNuzzo, Tribune photo

Back-to-back rough starts have ballooned Gavin Floyd’s ERA to 4.66 on the season.  Not only has every trace of his hot start been erased from his statistical record, but the 16 runs he’s given up in his last two outings dwarf the 13 he allowed in his seven previous times on the hill.

Ups-and-downs happen with every starter in every season, but Floyd’s travails are particularly frustrating.

With a struggling offense, and a rotation stripped-down in terms of depth, even if the quality is holding up, Floyd is one of many players the Sox need to get the most out of his abilities in order to contend.

Gavin’s always been regarded as someone more talented that his numbers.  The last three seasons, xFIP–an ERA predictor based on a pitcher’s amount of strikeouts, walks, and home runs–deemed that Floyd pitched well enough to earn ERAs of 3.77, 3.46, and 3.81.  The SIERA system called for ERAs of 3.83, 3.79, and 3.70 in those seasons, and yet, Floyd has not posted a season with an ERA of under 4.00 since 2008.

It’s not just disappointing to watch Floyd cool down from a blistering start to the year where he posted a 2.53 ERA in his first seven outings, it suggests that he might never escape the trend of pitching below what his peripheral statistics and his often eye-popping stuff suggest he’s capable of.

Floyd’s outing on Tuesday–for all intents and purposes, the second-worst start of his White Sox career–obviously dragged his numbers far below what his performance level has been most of this season, but it was the type of trainwreck outing that has plagued him for his entire career.

Since becoming a full-time member of the starting rotation in 2008, Floyd has made 133 starts.  In 34 of those starts, he’s both pitched less than seven innings, and allowed more than five runs.  To put that in perspective, two starters who have been alongside Floyd during those years and pitching in the same run environment–John Danks and Mark Buehrle–have had 21 and 26 such starts respectively.  Danks has also made exactly 133 starts in the time, Buehrle had 131 starts from 2008 to 2011, and hasn’t had a single five-run outing since moving to pitcher-friendly Miami.

But it’s the huge blowup starts like Tuesday that really obscure Floyd’s ERA.  In that same time span, Floyd’s had seven starts where he’s allowed five runs while failing to make it through four innings of work, whereas Danks and Buehrle combined have that same total.  Those starts have seen Floyd allow 50 earned runs, which is 13% of the earned runs he’s allowed in the past four and a quarter seasons.

Danks and Buehrle aren’t the fairest comparisons for Floyd.  Danks’ problems are typically in the later innings, Buehrle was allowed to pitch through problems to a much greater degree, and their handedness meant that they both had significantly different approaches and typical problems when working through lineups.

Yet they’re Floyd’s contemporaries, and when examining what’s holding the tall right-hander back, his inability to match their consistency in delivering winnable games to the bullpen jumps out.

Gavin’s been consistently refining his complement over the years to become more reliable, but his implosion Tuesday night prompted by a wave of poor control of his secondary stuff indicates there’s still a work to be done by Floyd.

The process should continue; it’s what is separating him from a breakout season, after all.



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