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Jon Garland just got traded from the Sox to the Angels. He has one year left on his contract and he'll be 28 that year.
His main features are that: 1) he's durable, 2) he doesn't strike out anyone, 3) he doesn't walk many.
OK, go to PI and look for pitchers who tossed between 1100 and 1300 IP from ages 22-27 (Garland tossed 1242 in those years) with a W rate under 3.0/9IP (Garland at 2.74) and a K-rate under 5.25 (Garland at 5.21 - since the K-rate is so much higher nowadays, I wanted to put him at the uppermost extreme.
He's one of only 12 pitchers to meet those criteria in the liveball era.
Looking at the comps (sorted by IP pitched in those years):
Bill Gullickson's a good one. Even gave up plenty of homers. He wasn't as good as Garland (actually has the most similar ERA+, but Gullickson's was front-loaded in his first years with good seasons. Garland had better years later), but at age 28 he had a lousy year and then missed the entire campaigns for the two subsequent years. Then he went back to being Bill Gullickson.
Ross Grimsley: Also had trouble with the longball. Had the best year of his career at age 28, then receded.
Milt Pappas. Not as good a comp. His K-rate was better, espeically when compared to the league. Plus he spent more time pitching before age 22. Also gave up his share of homers, though. Good year at age 28, then despite some ebbs and flows remained a good pitcher through age 33.
Larry Sorenson. WOuld be a very good comp except his age 26 season is far worse than anything Garland did. With homers, he ranged from 3 HRA to 30 in a year. OK, weird split. Age 28 he collapsed, but again, he had already collapsed at age 26.
Tommy JOhn. Interesting one. A better K-pitcher relative to the league than Garland, but also a worse control pitcher. Not as substantial homer problems. Here's the most interesting part: like Garland, his peripherals got noticably worse prior to turning 28. His walks skyrocketed, and while his raw K-totals increased, that was entirely a funciton of IP. He struck out far fewer batters. And, like Garland, at age 27 he had a huge number of UER while pitching for the Chicago White Sox. At age 28, his control returned, but he allowed a bunch more hits off balls in play, causing his ERA to get worse. His BABIP cleared up and his control stayed good. He pitched nearly 20 years more. However, please note, his ERA+ from ages 22-27 was 120, far better than Garland's.
Stan Bahnsen. Made the list despite not pitching at all at age 22. Racked up bigger IP when pitching, but wasn't as good in general. After winning 20 with an ERA+ of 88 at age 27, he lost 20 with an ERA+ of 112 at age 28. At age 28, his peripherals COLLAPSED, though. It was his last hurrah.
Sidney Ponson. Heading into age 28, his walks were on the upswing, and K's on downswing. He was similar to Garland, but with slightly worse ERA+s. His age 27 was much worse than Garland, but not then again Garland has the huge number of unearned runs making him look better than he was. Really, he might be the closest comp yet. He sucked at age 28 and wasn't any good again.
Jack Fisher. Lousy comp. He tossed fewer innings in an era when starters tossed more than they do now. His best single-season ERA+ from those ages was 99. Garland's been worse than that only once. Fisher had years of 70, 72, 84, and 89. He sucked at age 28. But he's the worst comp here.
Steve Rogers. Another lousy comp. Came up midway through his age 23 season and tossed over 300 IP at age 27. Much better than Garland. Much better strikeout pitcher and he didn't allow as many homers. Very good at age 28. That's as meaningful as Fisher's terrible 28 season. Pass.
Jack Russell. Ladies and gents, the only pre-1960 pitcher on the list. At age 27, became a relief pitcher. Well that automatically makes him the worst comp here so far. Made the All-Star team (weird) at age 28, but as a reliever.
John Candelaria. Looks like he solved his early-career homer problems by age 27, but was injured that year. Pitched effectively for a while.
A mixed bag, but given Garland's effectiveness and durability overall so far, I'd cautiously expect him to be an average innings eater this year. The Ponson comparison scares me a bit, though.
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