Tyler Pill Isn’t The Answer To The Pitching Problems

With Tommy Milone posting a 10.50 ERA in his three starts with the Mets, the team has begun discussing releasing him and having someone else take his spot in the rotation until Steven Matz is ready to return from the Disabled List. Considering at various points this season Milone, Adam Wilk, and Rafael Montero were given starts, it’s fair to say there is a dearth of major league ready prospects in the Mets minor league system.

Well, the name that has been publicly bandied about is Tyler Pill. The reason Pill’s name has been mentioned is he’s had a great start to the 2017 season.

Between Binghamton and Las Vegas, Pill is 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP while averaging over six innings per start. That includes Pill no allowing any runs in his two starts for the 51s. If you’re purely scouting the stat lines, Pill should be called up immediately.

There is a reason Pill hasn’t been immediately called to the majors. After all, this is the same pitcher who was 9-10 with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in 22 starts for Binghamton last year. In five starts for Vegas, he was 1-1 with a 5.60 ERA and a 1.72 WHIP. After that season, he wasn’t even ranked on MMN‘s Top 100.

Nor should he have been. Pill is four pitch pitcher who touches the low 90s. As a result, he has to mostly rely on control to get batters out. With none of his pitches being outstanding, he does not generate a lot of swing and misses. Since his 2013 should surgery to repair a Bennett lesion in his pitching shoulder, Pill has not posted an ERA under 3.97. This naturally begs the question about what’s different about Pill this year.

In a word, luck.

Through his first seven starts, Pill is allowing just a .265 BABIP, including a .255 BABIP in Triple-A. Typically, pitchers don’t have BABIPs under .300, especially those that pitch to as much contact as Pill. In fact, in his minor league career, Pill has allowed a .317 BABIP.

And batters have been putting a lot more balls in play off Pill. So far this year, Pill has just a 4.2 K/9, which would stand as the lowest K/9 in his career. His 2.4 BB/9, while encouraging, only further serves to show there are more balls in play against Pill than there had been in prior years. This creates further concerns there will be a stark regression.

These numbers all factor into his 4.01 FIP for the 2017 season. That’s closer to the pitcher who wasn’t even considered one of the Mets Top 100 prospects than the one who has yet to allow a run for Vegas this year.

Overall, Pill has had terrific numbers to start the 2017 season. However, as you dig deeper, it does not appear Pill is any different than the pitcher who has struggled the past few seasons.  Still, the run he’s on has gotten him promoted to the majors.  Unfortunately, unless he makes some adjustments with Dan Warthen, he is not going to be successful at the major league level.

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