Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Will Rich Hill Or Homer Bailey Thrive In Minnesota? It’s No Sure Thing…

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In desperate need of help to fill out the back of their rotation, the Minnesota Twins made an intriguing pair of signings on New Year’s Eve:

  • Rich Hill – 1 year for $3 million (with $9.5 million available in incentives)
  • Homer Bailey – 1 year for $7 million (with additional money available in incentives)

While neither would rate as a blockbuster move, they both have the potential to at least be useful. Of course they also have significant questions, so let’s take a look at try to determine their potential value:

Rich Hill

Even at 40-years old there is no questioning the potential value Hill brings when he is actually on the mound. That’s the big issue, however, as he continues to miss extensive time whether it’s do to injury or in an effort to keep him healthy. Since returning to the rotation in 2015 he’s never made more than 25 starts or pitched more than 135.2 innings in a season, but when he’s on the mound the numbers have been impressive:

466.1 IP
2.91 ERA
1.06 WHIP
10.67 K/9
2.82 BB/9

Sure you can argue that there’s been a little bit of luck, considering his 80.7% strand rate and .265 BABIP. However he’s also consistently been able to limit the hard contact (34.0% Hard%) while missing bats (10.9% SwStr%).

Obviously his age is going to be an issue and only 18 of his starts came in the American League. Moving to face more difficult lineups regularly could work against him, especially as he’s struggled with home runs over the past three seasons (HR/9 of 1.19 or higher for three straight seasons), and with the likely missed time.

Is he worth utilizing when he’s on the mound? We wouldn’t bet against him, but we also aren’t going to go out of our way given the risks/limitations.

Homer Bailey

Making over 30 starts for the first time since 2013 you could claim that Bailey made an impact in ’19. Of course he still carried a 4.57 ERA and 1.32 WHIP as he failed to be truly impactful in any of the skills we look for:

  • Strikeouts – 8.21 K/9
  • Control – 2.92 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 44.3%

None of the marks are bad, but they aren’t great either. The groundballs didn’t stop home run issues (1.16 HR/9) and a 10.8% SwStr% isn’t going to lead to an elite strikeout rate (and also could regress). He owns a career 4.57 ERA and had been at 5.56 or higher in the four previous seasons. Move that into the American League?

Maybe he’s a streaming option, but given the track record it’s hard to get excited.

Source – Fangraphs

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