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Scouting Pitchers: Gavin Floyd

James Benkard

James Benkard writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Statistics as of 7/16/08

This week, we'll look at the leader in wins for the division-best White Sox. Floyd finished the first half at 10-4 with a 3.63 ERA He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning on April 12th, and into the ninth on May 6th. He ranks fourth in the AL in opposition average against (.213) and is in the top 10 in a few other categories. After years of trying to break through to Philadelphia's rotation, he has found a home in Chicago.

I scout these pitchers personally, recording their velocity, pitch selection and motions by watching their games. I use the standard 20-80 scouting scale to rate pitchers. These velocities are suggestive and not determinant of a pitch's rating. For example, a 75 MPH curveball might rank as a 60 because of its movement and/or deception. Please feel free to post your thoughts below on the pitcher or the column.

80 Outstanding (96+ MPH fastball, 88+ MPH slider, 82 MPH curveball)
70 Well above average (94-95 FB, 86-87 MPH SL, 80-81 MPH CB)
60 Above average (92-93 MPH FB, 84-85 MPH SL, 78-79 MPH CB)
50 Average (89-91 MPH FB, 82-84 MPH SL, 75-77 MPH CB)
40 Below average (86-88 MPH FB, 79-81 MPH SL, 73-75 MPH CB)
30 Well below average (83-85 MPH FB, 76-78 MPH SL, 71-72 MPH CB)
20 Poor (80-82 MPH FB, 71-75 MPH SL, 69-70 MPH CB)

Philadelphia signed the right-handed Floyd (6-5, 230, Born 1/27/1983) with their first-round pick (fourth overall, one before Mark Teixeira) of the 2001 draft out of a Baltimore high school. Floyd signed late that year but put himself on the map quickly in 2002 by skipping Rookie ball and striking out 140 in the Sally League (11-10, 2.77). He mastered A ball in 2003 (7-8, 3.00 in 138 innings) and was on the fast track in 2004, when he threw 120 innings at Double-A (6-6, 2.57), made five starts in Triple-A and four in the majors.

The Phillies farmed Floyd back to Triple-A in April 2005 after he was rocked in three straight games. He never found his mechanics and inexplicably posted a 6.16 ERA in 137 innings. In 2006, Floyd gave up 14 homers in 11 early-season starts for the Phillies before finding some consistency in Triple-A (7-4, 4.23 in 115 innings). He was dealt to Chicago that December 2006, threw 107 more Triple-A innings in 2007, and was in the White Sox's rotation down the stretch.

Gavin Floyd: (G/F 0.90)

		Rating:  %Thrown:
Fastball	60		60
Curveball	70		25
Slider		60		10
Changeup	50		5
Control	50
Delivery	50
Composure	50

Floyd's four-seam fastball runs from 90-92 MPH and his two-seamer is 87-89. He has some decent movement on his two-seamer, which could be a cutter. Floyd's best pitch has always been a snapping 72-79 MPH curveball. This year he has used a crisp 85-87 MPH slider more often. While the Southside Sox blog says Floyd is throwing his slider 20% of the time, I haven't seen quite that many. Floyd also throws a decent 80-85 MPH changeup that he uses mainly for a change of speeds.

Floyd has broken through by repeating his mechanics more consistently, varying the speeds and locations of his breaking balls and improving his control. He uncoils himself slowly at first and then snaps his body forward to create good torque. This gives snap to his breaking stuff, but there are games when he "pitches uphill" and can't bring his curveball down consistently. Floyd stays upright, throws across his body some and is a little stiff. He could use his lower half more by lengthening his stride.

Floyd's slider has good velocity, and can also confuse hitters by throw his curveball with a slider break. He likes to bury his breaking stuff down and in to lefties or away from right-handers. Hitters have a hard time centering his breaking balls. Floyd's changeup has some interesting movement, as he can give it both right-to-left and traditional left-to-right actions.

Floyd's success comes with caution flags. He is a moderate flyball pitcher who has given up 17 homers, third in the AL, and 47 walks, seventh in the AL. He needs to spot his fastball to succeed, as he isn't the type of pitcher who can just pound the strike zone with it. He needs to stay on top of his curveball and not let it drift up and away. Floyd works quickly, which works to his advantage when he's cruising but makes it harder to right the ship when he's struggling. He has been efficient this year (15.5 pitches per inning), but his lifetime mark is still 16.6.

Floyd looks like he is a #4 starter on an AL team or a #3 in the NL. I'd like to see him throw 200 innings before saying he can be better than that. He seems intense - a hard worker and a tinkerer, which works in his favor. For all his struggles, he's also never been hurt.


Radar Love: July fastball readings:

94-98: Radhames Liz in Boston on July 12th.
94-98: Edinson Volquez in Milwaukee on July 12th.
93-96: Seth McClung against the Reds on July 12th.
91-94: CC Sabathia against Cincinnati on July 13th.
92: Daisuke Matsuzaka consistently against Baltimore on July 13th.
90-91: Chris Volstad in nearly throwing a shutout in his first major league start, in Los Angeles on July 11th. Volstad's strikeout pitch was a 78-81 MPH curveball.

89-90: Paul Maholm against the Yankees on July 10th.

Next week: All-Star Futures Game wrap-up


Article first appeared 7/18/08