Tuesday, August 3, 2010

David Purcey - High Leverage Reliever

Hard to believe that this day has come! David Purcey - that big foot havin' mofo - is a viable, reliable reliever in big spots. Who knew? Clarence (who managed the bullpen like a champ last night) continues to show faith in David Purcey. Purcey repays Clarence's confidence with a string of successful appearances1 setting him up for more and more heavy lifting.

The graph below tracks the situational leverage of the game when David Purcey enters (in blue). Quite a few mop up roles (0.00 LI) but a positive trend towards steady work in the last innings of close games. The black line represents Purcey's win probability added in each game. Obviously high leverage situation means the outcome is still in doubt, meaning Purcey can still impact the game either way. Giving up 3 runs in a mop up role doesn't really impact your WPA because, just like you can't be "more late", you can't ruin a game that's already in the bag (so to speak.)

Decent stuff, a definite trend. But wait, was that 1 floating around from before?

Right! I said his appearances were successful, which they have been. What I didn't say was they haven't been especially good or repeatable. Trouble brews.

David Purcey sports a gaudy ERA under 2 with only one loss and one save in 21 appearances. Unfortunately, all his peripherals point to one monstrous, hideous appearance in the not-so-distant future. His .200 BABIP will swell but quick, his 82.% strand rate might not hold up for much longer either (his spotty track record is of a man with a terrible strand rate, so the real Purcey is somewhere in the middle.) His home run per fly ball is uncomfortably low, especially for a guy who gets ground balls only 36% of the time.

That doesn't mean that the 2010 version of David Purcey is the same, largely ineffective David Purcey from season's past. His swinging strikes are up, his contact rates are down. More swings at pitches outside the zone, less contact inside the strike zone. Those are harbingers of an effective pitcher.

He throws his fastball a lot more and to a much greater effect. While he'll never be confused with Shaun Marcum or Greg Maddux, getting ahead with the fastball and using his slider almost exclusively as an offspeed continues to pay dividends.

David Purcey is, shockingly, 28 years old. He's under team control for another 4 years, which is hilarious. There is no reason to believe he can't survive the coming normalization of his numbers and continue developing into a top-notch reliever, not unlike his teammate Scott Downs. Or, as previously discussed here, a cut rate closer with a heavy fastball for an up-and-coming team on a budget.

Image courtesy of Blog TO, data from Fangraphs and BR.


  1. You know what? I'm down.

    And yes, props to Clarence for his bullpen use last night. Downs in a high-leverage spot, inning be damned? More, please.

    Oh, and if Jose Molina's pep talk with Gregg in the 9th didn't stem the tide, then I don't know what did.

  2. Foreboding peripherals be damned, Purcey is my pick for closer next year and high-leverage situations now. I was definitely WAY too excited when Cito called on him last night, and even more excited about the strikeout.

    Fun flashback: remember last year when David Purcey started the year as the #2 starter, followed by trusty #3 guy Jesse Litsch in a rotation rounded out by Scott Richmond? It's insane how much better the rotation has gotten in such a short time.

  3. I hope he gets all his regression out of the way in one fell swoop. Just a complete meltdown in one game, then back to good again.

  4. Except if he does that, I wouldn't be surprised if Cito puts him straight back to mop up duty.

  5. Unless he does it while pitching mop-up duty. Then a complete blowup is traditionally acceptable and easy for a guy like Cito to ignore. As long as he "eats up innings" and "does everything we asked him to do".


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