Looking at a few more free agent starting pitchers

Today in this space, we look at a few more free agent starting pitchers. Recently, MLBTradeRumors.com sized up the field and last week we took this look at a few pitchers from the category of older veterans/back-of-the-rotation options.

We started in alphabetical order of the 13 pitchers in this grouping and that meant we sized up Brett Anderson, Tyler Anderson and Alex Cobb.

Today a look at three more pitchers, two of which we’ve seen in the American League East and another who spend a lot time pitching in his native South Korea.

J.A. Happ: A team signing Happ will be getting a 39-year-old lefty with obviously a lot of experience, but very likely his best days in his rear-view mirror.

However, from 2015 through 2021, a seven-year period, Happ averaged 12 wins with a 4.03 ERA, 1.257 WHIP and threw 150 innings per season. Very solid numbers that included a 2.7 walk rate and 8.1 strikeout rate.

And while he began and finished the ‘21 season throwing well, there were some very rough outings in the middle there. Happ’s salary was $17 million with the Yankees for 2019 and 2020, but he signed with Minnesota for one-year at $8 million in January. This time around, he won’t get anything close to that, you would have to figure.

He is coming off a season where Minnesota traded him to St. Louis on July 30. He made 30 starts, throwing 152 1/3 innings between the teams, going 10-8 with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.477 WHIP. He gave up 10.8 hits per nine with 1.8 homers. His ERA was 6.77 in 19 starts for the Twins, but 4.00 in 11 starts for the Cardinals, where he may have gained the benefits of pitching behind a strong defense.

In his first five starts of last season, he had an ERA of 1.91. But over his next seven with Minnesota, his ERA was 9.84 and he gave up an OPS against of 1.106. In his final five starts of the year with St. Louis, his ERA was 2.75 and he allowed a .598 OPS.

Orioles bags.jpgRich Hill: You can see this, realize Hill will be 42 by opening day 2022 and laugh. And yet Hill’s 2021 stats would have made him the second-best starter on the Orioles. He would have led the team in innings and ranked third on the club in ERA behind Cole Sulser and John Means.

Hill began the 2021 season with Tampa Bay. On July 23, he was traded to the New York Mets for former Oriole Tommy Hunter and minor league catcher Matt Dyer. For the year, over 32 games, he went 7-8 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.210 WHIP. In 158 2/3 innings, he gave up 7.8 hits per nine with 1.2 homers, 3.1 walks and 8.5 strikeouts.

Hill pitch to an ERA of 3.87 in 19 starts for the Rays. This included his being named American League Pitcher of the Month for May after going 3-1 with a 0.78 ERA, allowing three earned runs in 34 2/3 innings. He gave up three runs or less in 12 of his 13 games for the Mets, his 11th major league team.

So someone is going to sign this guy with numbers like that and he’s going to have to prove he can’t pitch anymore. That didn’t happen last year.

Since returning to the majors after pitching in independent ball in 2015, Hill has been one of the game’s top starting pitchers by ERA, winning percentage and opponent average. His 3.15 ERA in the last seven seasons ranks sixth (minimum 600 innings) in the big leagues behind Jacob deGrom (2.47), Clayton Kershaw (2.50), Max Scherzer (2.75), Justin Verlander (2.94), Corey Kluber (3.13) and Gerrit Cole (3.14). Only Scherzer (.200), Verlander (.204), Kershaw (.209) and deGrom (.211) have held their foes to a lower average than Hill (.212). And Hill’s .625 win percentage (50-30) ranks tied for 12th since 2015 (min. 100 starts).

One final note on Hill and it’s pretty amazing: Hill has gone 51 consecutive starts allowing no more than four runs and no more than eight hits. That is the longest streak of all time, one longer than Jacob deGrom’s also active streak of 50 such starts in a row.

So I am sure not laughing about any team pursuing Hill.

Kwang-Hyun Kim: Kim is a 33-year-old soft-tossing lefty with strong numbers versus lefty batters and a lot of experience pitching 12 years in the Korea Baseball Organization.

He had a solid season for the Cardinals this year and pitched for the Cardinals in 2020 during what was then a best-of-three first-round playoff series.

This year, over 27 games and 21 starts, he went 7-7 with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.284 WHIP. Over 106 2/3 innings, he allowed 8.3 hits per nine innings with 1.0 homers, 3.3 walks and 6.8 strikeouts. He had a 47.4 groundball rate using his fastball 42 percent of the time (at an average velocity of 89.1 mph), throwing his slider 38 percent and splitter 12 percent. Kim had a streak of 24 scoreless innings from June 30-July 22.

Kim was on the injured list three times this season, but none for an extended stay with two trips for back issues and the last one for left elbow inflammation. He was on the IL from April 1-16, June 5-14 and Aug. 9-21.

For 12 seasons, through 2019, he pitched in the KBO, going 136-77 with a 3.27 ERA.

Lefty batters hit just .156 with an OPS of .452 against him. He did not allow a homer and gave up just four extra-base hits all year to lefty batters. Right-handers hit .267/.754 off him and he gave up all 12 of his homers to righty batters.

Mullins is a finalist: O’s outfielder Cedric Mullins is a finalist for a Silver Slugger in the American League. There are eight finalists in the outfield and three outfielders will earn a Silver Slugger.

This follows a season where Mullins produced the first year of 30 or more homers and steals in team history. He was a unanimous choice as the 2021 Most Valuable Oriole.

Mark Trumbo was the last Oriole to win a Silver Slugger in 2016.

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