Let’s get this out of the way: I vehemently dislike Sergio Mitre. If you’ve followed me here from BBD or seen me comment over at RAB, my contempt for Mitre is pretty easy to see. Perhaps this is unfair because I’m influenced by his relatively poor showing last year that came after Tommy John Surgery. However, there’s just not a lot that impresses me about this guy.
His sinker is solid, though, and his near 60% ground ball rate is desirable, but that’s his only positive attribute. He doesn’t miss many bats (5.46 K/9), has good-not-great-control (3.02 BB/9), and gives up pretty solid contact (.325 BABIP).
This season, though, Mitre appeared–at least on the surface–to put it together. In a very small sample of 25 innings, Mitre posted a 2.88 ERA while stranding 78% of runners. This all seems well and good, but we need to look a little bit closer.
His FIP is a hefty 4.68 and his xFIP isn’t much better at 4.59. His groundball rate is down 8.5% from last year and is 9.9% down from his career rate. His strikeout rate is still iffy at 5.46 and his walk rate is up to 3.24, up both from last year and his career. His LOB% of 78 is also 12% over his career norm. In other words, it’s a big fat outlier.
So how was Mitre able to have such a good ERA despite iffy peripherals? His BABIP in 2010 was a ridiculously, horribly, unsustainably low .190. And, despite a big uptick in FB% (38.0 in ’10, 24.5 career), his HR/FB is down to 11.1% (14.4% career). The more innings that Mitre gets, the more those numbers are likely to go back up and his ERA will regress to the mean rather quickly.
I’m just not confident in Mitre over more than the occasional spot start. There aren’t, however, many alternatives. A trade would be ill advised since Pettitte will likely be out only a month and the internal options aren’t much better. Chad Gaudin hasn’t earned a start, neither has minor leaguer Zach McAllister. If Mitre stumbles, as I think he will, after one or two starts, I think the Yankees should recall Ivan Nova and see what happens. Again, it’s not ideal but I just have zero faith in Sergio Mitre.