Friday, December 9, 2016

Tyrell Jenkins traded to Rangers for Luke Jackson

Tyrell Jenkins and a little known player named Bradley Feigl were traded to the Texas Rangers yesterday for a reliever by the name of Luke Jackson.

Twitter then exploded in rage.

Jenkins is one of those guys who was really well known on social media for his interactivity, easy demeanor, approachable nature, and generally seen as a good-guy with fans. At no point will most people reference his pitching acumen before his personality, which begs the question: Was this a good trade from a baseball perspective that simply had negative fan reaction? Oh and also don't worry about Feigl in this trade, he's a 25 year old that's still in rookie ball.

Tyrell Jenkins last year had 14 games at the MLB level including 8 starts. That's 52 innings pitched with a disappointing WHIP of 1.69, an ERA of 5.88, and a 33-26 BB/K rate. None of those stats suggest that he was ready to be a full-time MLB pitcher. So I go back a year and look at his AAA stats and see how he projects. In 2015 at AAA, he had a 3.57 ERA in 8 starts, 45.1 innings, a WHIP of 1.39, and a 20-29 BB/K rate. Better yes, but your AAA stats are always better than your MLB stats or you wouldn't get called up. The problem I have with that is the BB/K rate still isn't good and the WHIP at 1.39 is frankly awful for that level. You can't be allowing that many base-runners and expect to have positive outcomes.

Meanwhile, Luke Jackson is a reliever with 15 games of experience relieving in the MLB. That's basically too small of a sample for me to gauge much off of, so frankly I won't. Instead I'll look at his minor league years and see that he's got 128 innings at AAA with a 5.89 ERA, a 1.63 WHIP, and a 78-149 BB/K rate. The downside to all those K's? He's given up 14 homers in those 128 innings, which is a HR/9 of basically 1.0, and that's not a good thing. The great news to this kid? He can touch 100 mph with his fastball which is why he's getting so many K's. So why is he giving up that many homers and hits? Because the fastball doesn't have a ton of movement on it.

So why make the move? Both guys seem to need a ton of work. My thought is the Braves are simply betting on velocity, as much as I hate the idea. They are going to take the kid in Jackson who can throw hard, and they hope they can teach him some movement and control. They are going to get rid of the pitcher in Jenkins who has shown spurts, but can't seem to get enough strikeouts and will never touch the triple digits on the gun.

I don't like the idea of radar gun chasing for prospects, but I also understand the league we live in now. If you're into football, you understand that coaches will recruit the 320 pound guy with some speed who is unpolished rather than the 260 lineman who has incredible footwork because you can't teach that kind size and speed combo. They are building blocks for eventual success and every organization thinks they can out-coach the other organization.

Most of the time I feel that's not true. If you can pitch, you can pitch. Plain and simple. I don't think this move will amount to a whole bunch because even if a guy can touch 100 mph, he can't hit the bull with it (Bull Durham reference, kids), and I'm worried about him giving up dingers at the MLB level. I will reference that number for Jackson since it just 11 innings he gave up 4 homers. That won't do on a Braves team that prides itself in pitching prospect competition.

Meanwhile, the Braves fans lost a fan favorite, so if Tyrell pans out and Jackson doesn't you will absolutely hear it from Braves country. As they should, because frankly I don't like the move from a baseball perspective even though I understand why they did it. That also tells me the philosophy going forward is bigger arms over looking for better command, which could be a recipe for disaster in the bullpen. They better make sure they can reign Jackson in, or this whole exchange will be pointless.


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