Position: Starting Pitcher
Bats: Right – Throws: Right
Born: December 16, 1989 (age 27)
2017 Stats: 33 G (25 GS), 147.2 IP, 8-15, 4.69 ERA, 1.442 WHIP, .250 AVG, 1.2 HR/9, 120 SO, 1.1 WAR
Predicted by many as a free agent sleeper, Tyler Chatwood’s stats don’t seem to show it. However, if you dive deeper in his pitching, you begin to appreciate the fact that he is an above-average pitcher, decimated by the cruel stadium known as Coors Field.
His 8-15 record and 4.69 ERA may not looking appealing to possible suitors, however every team knows that he fell victim to the curse of Coors Field. Located up in the Rockies, Coors is a monstrosity to every pitcher, as higher altitude stadiums always induce baseballs to travel faster and further. Although his home ERA was 6.01, his road ERA was 3.49.
The 27-year-old’s season was a tale of two halves. In the first half, he struggled mightily. His season was in a tailspin and it looked like he would need to sign a deal as a reclamation project. Though as his season concluded, he turned it on. After August 9, he started to dominate. In his final 35.1 innings, he pitched to a 3.08 ERA, allowing a .175 batting average against, and guaranteed that he would receive a decent deal this offseason.
Part of the reason for his success was a simple change in his pitching arsenal. He threw his sinker more and decreased the usage of his four-seam fastball and changeup. Beginning in August, he began to throw his sinker 20% more and decreased his usage of his fastball and curveball by 12% and 9% respectively.
Chatwood’s pitches will flourish outside Coors Field. He threw his fastball in the 95 mph range, ranking 28th in fastball velocity this season. His fastball, curveball and changeup all generate an elite amount of ground balls, which prospective teams are certain to notice. Chatwood’s specialty is his above average spin rate on his fastball. His 2980 RPM(rotations per minute) was fifth highest in the MLB this season.
Although it may not guarantee Chatwood an extra year on his contract, he just won a Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award, which is given to the best fielding pitcher in the MLB.
Chatwood has always been an injury-prone pitcher. This season, he lived up to that reputation, as he landed on the DL in July, with a right calf strain. Nonetheless, it was encouraging that he did not have an arm injury. Chatwood also suffered from an increase in HR/9; last year he allowed .85 HR/9, however this year, that number exploded to 1.22 HR/9. Also his command has always been an issue. He finished fourth in the majors in walks with 77 in 2017.
He has a 2.57 cumulative road ERA over the past two seasons which is the sixth-best in baseball and saw a jump from 92.6 MPH in 2016 to 94.6 MPH on his four-seamer in 2017.
Due to his strong finish to the season, he will be looking for a multi-year deal. The free agent market has a dearth of decent free agent starting pitchers so many teams will be willing to sign a pitcher that has suffered from the Coors Field effect over the past five years. I project that Chatwood will sign a 3-year deal worth $27 million dollars.
Chatwood is in a very unique position this year. With age still on his side, teams will start salivating over his road stats. He’s never been a proven starter, however many teams will vie for his services due to his excellent ground-ball percentage and his performace away from Coors Field. Sandy Alderson may not be willing to sign a pitcher who already had two serious arm injuries to a multi-year deal. His walk rate is also troubling, especially for a staff that finished fourth in walks during 2017. Nevertheless, his contract would fit directly in the Mets’ price range. If the Mets were to sign Chatwood, he would join the competition for the last two starting spots with Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.
I think that Mets should bid for Chatwood, though they have more pressing needs in the infield and bullpen. He does come with risk given two Tommy John surgeries, walk issues and having only thrown over 150 innings once as a big leaguer. Given these factors and the likelihood of him getting more than a two-year deal I don’t expect to see him in a Mets uniform in 2018.