The Curious Case Of Darin Gorski

An article by posted on August 1, 2013

DARIN GORSKI: Is he officially a reliever now?

Like the U.S. during the Cold War, the New York Mets continue to build an arsenal of long range power arms. A ‘shock and awe’ strike capacity with a first wave including weaponry labeled  Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia, Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, Logan Verrett, Jack Leathersich, Jeff Walters, and Cory Mazzoni overpower lesser named rockets in the Mets armory. Met fans should not discount a left-handed firearm in their minor league system named Darin Gorski.

In a pitching weapon cache almost entirely comprised of right-handed weaponry, Darin Gorski is a rare firearm launched from the left side.  In a minor league season that is “The Year of the Pitcher,” Gorski is putting together an impressive campaign.

Seven innings of one run ball last in Altoona, that lone run unearned, add to Gorski’s 2013 script. Every Met fan raves about Noah Syndergaard and his dominance at the Double-A level thus far in Binghamton. To help appreciate just how effective Gorski has been pitching at the same level, note the side-by-side comparison of each pitcher’s B-Met stats:

STATS

*Note that Gorski’s only loss came in a complete game, 3-hit, 2-0 B-Met loss.

The comparison is not made to suggest that Darin Gorski’s radar on the Met minor league pitching charts equals or betters Noah Syndergaard.  It is only provided to validate the fact that he is putting together a banner run in Binghamton.

It is easy to overlook Gorski’s minor league pitching effectiveness and, for the most part, everyone has. A Pennsylvania kid, Gorski was drafted in 2009 in the seventh round out of Kutztown University. At Kutztown, the same college where Ryan Vogelsong starred, Gorski went 20-6 over 3 seasons. His impressive strike zone command first became noted in college, where the tall lefty never logged a WHIP higher than 1.11.

That strike zone command has held at each of Gorski’s minor league stops. The 6’4” 210-pound left-hander commanded little attention during his introduction to minor league ball. Only when he profited from the tutelage of pitching coach Phil Regan in Port St. Lucie was his potential recognized.

Regan went to work refining Gorski’s pitching mechanics and the results were striking. He started the season in the St. Lucie bullpen, and eventually cracked the starting rotation. He went 11-3, winning mid and post season Florida State League All-Star recognition and being named the FSL’s MVP. Gorski worked almost 140 innings walking 29 batters and fanning 140 with a 2.08 ERA and a sterling 0.995 WHIP.  The southpaw was a New York Met Sterling Award winner for pitching excellence at Port St. Lucie.

Gorski’s impressive St. Lucie campaign was minimized by baseball analysts because of his age. At 24 years old, many attributed his success to an experienced pitcher working against inexperienced hitters.

He was a workhorse on the Binghamton staff in 2012 starting 24 games with 16 quality starts. Personally, Gorski, like Jonathon Niese a few seasons prior, became a ‘must watch start,’ as I tried to make every game he pitched at NYSEG Stadium.

Gorski’s pitching line wasn’t the magnetic force that drew me in. The attraction had more to do with his demeanor on the hill; his willingness to attack hitters in a professional manner, the way he worked the entire strike zone, his savvy on the mound including an unflappable emotional balance, and what I believed was a serious attempt to master his off-speed pitches.

“You have to trust your stuff,” Gorski explained in an interview at the end of his 2012 campaign. Like I had suspected, Gorski identified a major goal that year to master his slider. “To do that required throwing the pitch in games to make it competitive,” Gorski added.

At Binghamton in 2012, Gorski went 9-8 with a 4.00 ERA and a 1.274 WHIP. Not stellar, but a solid body of work for a developing minor league pitcher. Again and again, Gorski proved when he started a contest you could count on six or more innings of solid work.

The 2013 season saw him start in Las Vegas, but an early season injury derailed the beginning of Gorski’s Triple-A campaign.  After rehabilitation, he was assigned to Binghamton where he has pitched brilliantly.

Gorski has a multiple pitch repertoire that includes both a four-seam fastball and a recently installed two-seamer. A major part of Gorski’s success formula is pounding the strike zone with his fastball to get ahead of hitters. His fastball consistently registers at 89-91 mph but can touch a tick or two higher when necessary. His slider and change-up both read in the low 80’s on the radar. Gorski’s change-up has late drop and is considered his most effective off-speed pitch.

At 26, nay-sayers still note Gorski’s age. The fact he was dropped from the 40-man roster in May and cleared waivers might also be considered a negative. I attribute those factors to the general inclination of overlooking Gorski’s potential pitching value that comes with a low draft selection and a slow professional start.

More pressing to me is a high home run percentage that has followed Gorski throughout his professional career. Last year, Double-A batters went yard 20 times on Gorski, good for a 12.9 percent rate. Interestingly enough, that rate almost disappears against left-handed batters. That fact, combined with Gorski’s consistent strike zone command, have some predicting he will someday become a relief pitcher in the major leagues working primarily against batters stationed on the left hand side of the plate.

This summer, Gorski seems to have alleviated his home run pitching tendency, allowing only one home run in his 44 innings for Binghamton. That may be the result of better placement of his fastball, a pitch often delivered higher in the strike zone last season than Gorski may have liked. Further mastery of his slider may also be a contributing factor.

He may not possess the combustible power wattage of other Met arms in their minor league pitching arsenal. Yet, Darin Gorski’s assets: an impressive walk/strikeout ratio, an all business work ethic that includes meticulous preparation, a gritty demeanor on the mound, and the fact he’s a rare left-handed arm in an almost entirely right-handed Met pitching armory, add pay value to Gorski’s pitching profile.

Like the oft overlooked lefty Scott Rice, Darin Gorski could be another high value left-handed pitching find.  With so many promising minor league pitching prospects, let’s hope the Mets don’t overlook him.

About the Author ()

MMO Minor League Analyst John Bernhardt is a retired public school teacher and administrator, who still coaches high school baseball. Growing up in a Yankees household, Bernhardt was an ardent Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra fan. When the Yankees fired Yogi in his first season as the Bomber manager, curiosity turned to passion when the Mets signed Berra as a player/coach and he has pulled for the Mets ever since. In retirement, John writes the sports for a local weekly, The Catskill Mountain News and hosts Tip-Off, a Friday morning sports hour, from 8:00-9:00 on WIOX, 91.3 F.M.

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