April 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
According to DOB, the Braves signed Chad Durbin to a Major League deal.
Ben’s Take: He had a 4.85 FIP last year over 68.1 innings, all out of the bullpen. I do not understand this move at all. Maybe I will later on.
There must have been some type of issue the Braves had with Jairo Asencio. Durbin has been signed to a middle relief role, and DOB has Wren’s quotes about the deal in his latest post. I would take Asencio on the roster over Durbin 10 times out of 10, and if the Braves ended up having to cut Asencio then finding a player of Durbin’s quality would not be difficult.
Durbin has thrown 206.2 innings in the past three years and has been worth -0.5 fWAR during that time. I just really do not get it. Hopefully he pitches in next to no meaningful innings, but with Livan Hernandez on the roster he will likely be forced to occasionally.
Franklin’s take: A lot of stats have been thrown out on Durbin on Twitter (not by Ben) that are wildly misleading. Durbin was a very crappy starter from 1999 to 2007, which skews a lot of his stats. I think all of those numbers are entirely irrelevant. The only meaningful information we really have on Durbin is from 2008-2011, when he became a relief pitcher.
So what does that information tell us? Well, essentially he’s had one excellent season (2008), one good season (2010), and two bad seasons (2009 and 2011). Sounds kind of like the mediocre reliever version of Dan Uggla, huh? In any case, I think a few things help Durbin fit with the Braves, First I think him being right handed, as opposed to Flande who was a LHP, is a positive. Durbin doesn’t have big splits against RHP and LHP, but he will assumedly be better against RHP than the lefty Flande. I’d rather my last guy out of the pen be a RHP, all else equal. Secondly, I think the league change and going to more of a pitcher’s park will benefit Durbin. His big problem last year was a 13% HR/FB rate, which will likely come down being in the NL in a more pitcher friendly park. Third, being a flyball pitcher (40% GB rate), I think he matches up well with the way the Braves defense is currently, which is terrible in the infield and amazing in the outfield.
What do I expect out of him? Probably something like his 2010 season, when he put up a 3.80 ERA, 3.97 FIP and was worth 0.3 fWAR.
The other issue is why not Jairo Asencio? I can only speculate that had something to do with off the field issues as David O’Brien recently hinted at. If there were no off the field issues, other than the name thing with Asencio it simply doesn’t make sense to me at all. But regardless, at the time we made the decision to pick up Durbin, Asencio was gone already, so this move should only be evaluated on whether or not Durbin is a better fit on the team than Flande, which I believe he is.