If there’s one constant throughout the Rays bullpen in April, it’s that Randy Choate was a hell of a lot better than his line looks so far.
In early April, he had a string of three appearances that completely destroyed his statistics for the month:
- April 10 (against NYY): To start the 8th: .2 IP, 5 hits, 4 ER given up. The Yankees hit 5 line drives and 1 ground ball.
- April 11 (against NYY): Replacing Shields with 1 out in the 6th: Gives up a 2-run dinger to Posada and a line drive single to Granderson, then yanked.
- April 12 (against BAL): Replacing Wheeler with 2 out in the 8th: Gives up a 2-run pinch hit shot to Luke Scott, then Pie reaches on an E6 on a pop fly. Yanked for Balfour.
Collectively, that is 8 hits, 7 earned runs, a .727 BAA, and 2.091 OPS-against in 0.2 IP accrued in three games. ERA doesn’t mean much for relievers, but a 27.00 ERA sure as hell doesn’t look good on a stats page.
The good news is, that these appearances look like an aberration.
In the six April appearances that followed, he had a different story: In six games he racked up 3.2 IP, 1 hit, a walk, and no earned runs.
For the entire season so far, his xFIP is a mere 2.47 – the lowest of the entire Rays pitching staff. His BABIP has spiked to .370 (with a career BABIP of .301) and his line drive percentage of 26.9% is nearly 10 points higher than his career percentage. His left on base percentage is a mere 36.6%, far below his career average of 55.9% and last year’s 50%. All of these fluctuations are likely due to sample size and the effect of the awful outings on his overall statistics.
Of course, It’s possible that he has been lucky lately. His K/9 is far above his career average and his BB/9 is far below his career average. You could say that he’s just gone from being incredibly unlucky to being incredibly lucky.
Still, though, his fly ball percentage is within a few points of his career average, his contact percentage numbers are stable, and his fastball speed is still 87mph. He’s not getting any worse overall. Variance and the small sample size of a month’s worth of pitching can mess any set of numbers up.
Looking at advanced statistics and comparing them to previous years, it’s clear that Randy Choate was incredibly unlucky at the beginning of the season. I think that it is also safe to say that Randy Choate will be one of the better members of the Rays bullpen this year.