The New Hampshire Fisher Cats had one of the worst pitching staffs in the Eastern League, allowing the second most runs. The thing that probably hurt the club the most was losing some of their top talent at the trade deadline while also seeing some of those players promoted.
We begin with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ biggest workhorse, our Pitcher of the Year, Taylor Cole. Cole, in his first full season in Double-A showed a lot of improvement over his brief 12 1/3 inning call up last year. Cole was dominant in 2014, mostly with the Dunedin Blue Jays, leading the minor leagues in strikeouts but wasn’t able to maintain his 31.6% strikeout ratio up a level in 2015. Still, Cole had a very solid season, striking out 18.6% and walking 8.0% with a 4.06 ERA (4.27 FIP) and 1.40 WHIP. Cole can still be a solid pitcher and could have a future in the majors but is now 26 and will be beginning his Age-26 season in either New Hampshire or Buffalo.
27-year-old righty Casey Lawrence is a typical sinker-ball pitcher who lives and dies on where the ball is hit. In 2015, he mostly died, posting his highest ERA at 4.52 and WHIP at 1.49 in 161 1/3 innings with the Fisher Cats. Despite that high ERA, his FIP was only 3.50 and, in giving up a lot of ground balls, probably had more find holes (thanks to a .381 BABIP) than in years past. Also hurting Lawrence was a 12.9% strikeout rate which was 2% lower than his figure at the same level last year while his walk rate, always miniscule at 4.5% is very consistent with his career. In a 6 1/3 inning call up to Buffalo, Lawrence gave up four runs on nine hits but didn’t walk anyone and came away with six strikeouts. Look for him in Buffalo in 2016.
Another 26 year old, lefty John Anderson pitched the most innings in his career, totalling 123 2/3 with most of them at the Double-A level. Anderson spent most of the season as a starter (20 of his 30 appearances overall) and was actually more effective than he was in relief. While I haven’t confirmed it with anyone in the organization, Anderson didn’t start any games after July, leading me to believe that he was moved into the bullpen to control his innings. Anderson’s season was a little mixed. He had some great ones and some not-so-great ones but there is still so much to believe in with the lefty who can (amazingly) still throw in the 94-95 mph range after so many injury woes. Anderson, in 120 2/3 innings in New Hampshire, had a 4.62 ERA (4.03 FIP) and 1.49 WHIP with a 13.5% strikeout rate and 7.9% walk rate. In just three innings in Buffalo, he gave up three runs on five hits, walked one and struck out three. I think that Anderson could be groomed to take over a lefty role despite the fact that he didn’t really pitch better against lefties than righties. Look for him in Buffalo, probably in the bullpen but possibly in a rotation.
Austin Bibens-Dirkx has been another reliable arm for the Blue Jays organization ever since he was signed as a minor league free agent in the 2012/2013 offseason. He’s always been reliable in whatever role and whichever level he’s pitched and while the numbers have steadily worsened as he’s moved up in level, he’s still able to provide a ton of quality innings. Spending most of the season with New Hampshire (making 20 appearances, 18 starts with 97 innings), he posted a 4.08 ERA (3.93 FIP) along with a solid 1.32 WHIP. Bibens-Dirkx struck out 20.6% of batters (improving over last year) while walking 6.7% (worsening more than 2.5% from last year). In 17 1/3 innings in Buffalo, Bibens-Dirkx allowed nine runs on 20 hits over 17 1/3 innings but only walked four and struck out 18. Last year was his Age-30 season and he’s probably going to be in the same roles he’s back with the Blue Jays in 2016 (I’m not completely sure of his contract status).
24-year-old Matt Boyd got his feet wet in the major leagues with a couple of rough starts with the Blue Jays before returning to Triple-A. He ended up with the Tigers, getting another 50 innings in the big leagues with them but wasn’t particularly successful, finishing with a 6.57 ERA and a 5.98 FIP. Boyd was his best with New Hampshire, however, throwing 73 2/3 innings with a miniscule 1.10 ERA and 2.67 FIP, and a 0.77 WHIP. He was dominant, striking out 25.6% of batters while walking only 6.6%. In Buffalo, he was also effective with a 2.77 ERA, 3.46 FIP and 0.97 WHIP with a 24.2% K-rate and 3.9% BB-rate in 39 innings. Boyd needs to get more ground balls at the big league level but, as one of the friendliest guys we’ve met in our rounds of the Jays’ minor league system, we wish him all the best in 2016 and hope that he doesn’t face the Jays next season.
Righty Joel Pineiro threw 59 2/3 innings with the Fisher Cats at the age of 36 with a 3.77 ERA, and a 1.17 WHIP. He struk out only 25 batters in those innings but walked only seven. In four appearances, he threw 17 innings with Buffalo with a 5.82 ERA and 1.71 WHIP, striking out 10 and walking 6. He was released in July.
I know that the Blue Jays really like 28 year old righty Mike Lee. Lee, who stands 6-foot-7, had a rough season, spending most of it on the disabled list but still threw 36 innings for the Fisher Cats, with a 5.00 ERA and 4.27 FIP and 1.64 WHIP with a K-rate of just 11.1% and a walk rate of 6.2%. Let’s hope that his poor numbers came from the injuries and let’s see if he an have a good year in 2016.
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4 thoughts on “New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2015 Report, part 2: Starting Pitchers”
Love these reports, they are distracting me from the AA fiasco. FYI, that’s a different Mike Lee you’ve linked to.
Thanks for the heads up. I’ve changed the link but, unfortunately, it’s likely to happen again. I use an automatic Baseball Reference linker (because it would take far too long to link every player manually). Sometimes it just doesn’t link to the right player with a common name. Dwight Smith, Jr. is particularly problematic for this because the auto linker links to his dad’s page.
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