Breakout or Mirage: Why The Marlins’ Merandy Gonzalez’s “Breakout” May Not Be For Real

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was a bit of a surprise when the New York Mets shipped a pair of prospects to the Miami Marlins at the trade deadline.  Obviously it was a move made with 2018 in mind, as they secured A.J. Ramos who should be a key part of their bullpen.  However it’s the Marlins, who needed help to bolster a lackluster farm system, who could walk away as the winners of the deal.  One of the players they acquired was right-handed pitcher Merandy Gonzalez, and in the short-term the results have been promising as he’s split time pitching for three different teams in ’17:

130.1 IP, 1.66 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 7.11 K/9, 1.80 BB/9

The numbers are obviously impressive, though is there really enough here to be buying?  The control looks elite, but MLB.com’s scouting report helps to show that throwing strikes isn’t the only part of control:

“While he’s generally around the strike zone, he does leave balls in the middle of the plate at times. With good athleticism and a repeatable delivery, his command should improve over time.”

That’s one question, but it’s not the only one:

  • Strikeouts – His K/9 was pedestrian, at best, and considering he topped out at High-A and owned a 10.0% SwStr% it’s hard to buy into significantly more upside
  • Groundballs – His 43.3% groundball rate is also a mark that isn’t going to standout, and when paired with the concerns about leaving balls in the middle of the plate it’s easy to envision home runs becoming an issue against more advanced hitters
  • Size – He’s listed at just 6’0” and 216 lbs., leading some to think that his future lies in the bullpen

It will be interesting to see how Gonzalez continues to develop and emerge.  It’ll be all about his secondary pitches and if he can take a step forward with them, though there are far too many questions facing him right now.  Long-term there’s a good chance he settles into a bullpen role, and if/when that happens he may never be an elite option.

Sure he’s a name to monitor, just in case he figures something out, but for now he’s nothing more than that.  Simply put, don’t let the numbers deceive you.

Current Grade – C

Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs

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