Apr 9, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie (11) delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the third inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
If ever there was a pitcher who appeared to be primed for regression this season, it was Jeremy Guthrie. Despite allowing the most hits in the American League last year, Guthrie ended up posting a 15-12 record with a 4.04 ERA, aided in large part by his 78.2% strand rate. As an extreme fly ball pitcher who not only serves up a lot of home runs, but also does not miss many bats, it seemed likely that 2014 could be a rough season for Guthrie.
Instead, Guthrie has continued to defy the odds. While he has given up the most home runs in the American League, Guthrie has given up over a hit fewer per game while improving his control. Naturally, playing in front of an outfield that, when healthy, has proven to track down virtually anything hit in the air helps matters.
However, to look at Jeremy Guthrie from a purely statistical standpoint misses his value to the Royals this season. His 3.91 ERA and 1.217 WHiP are likely better than anyone could have expected at this point in the season, but they do not tell the full story. Where Guthrie has been truly valuable to the Royals has been in his ability to keep them in every single game he has pitched this season.
With the Royals offense struggling to score four or more runs, Guthrie has kept the opposition to virtually that exact number. In seemingly each one of his starts, if he has left while trailing, Guthrie has kept the Royals within a run at the time of his exit. In fact, in his seven outings, Guthrie has allowed no more than four runs at any point. With improved run support, the Royals could easily be better than 4-3 in his starts.
A few of us, myself included, thought that Jeremy Guthrie could potentially lose his spot in the rotation, especially if his expected regression actually occurred. Instead, Guthrie has continued to prove us all wrong, as he has consistently given the Royals an excellent chance to win each time out. A pitcher whose career turned right around once he came to Kauffman Stadium, Guthrie could simply be one of those pitchers who outperforms his statistics. He simply appears to be on the correct team for his style of pitching.
Since coming over to the Royals, Jeremy Guthrie has been better than anyone could have anticipated. This season, Guthrie has improved that level of performance. Even if it may not always be pretty, Guthrie has done more than expected this season.