2015 Phillies Report Card – Jerad Eickhoff

The first of the Hamels Gang to make the majors, Jerad Eickhoff debuted to mostly good reviews in 2015 (Script idea: Blogger somehow winds up in a cool street gang with Cole Hamels, they dance and sing and throw wicked change-ups and otherwise mess up opposing gangs). But I have an important question for all of you: how exactly am I to pronounce his first name? It’s spelled Jerad, yet BRef only tells me how to pronounce his last name. Is it JAIR ad? JEH rid? Pretty sure it’s not JEE rad or jee RAD. Do you just kind of mush your mouth and say “Jared”? As in, “Hey, let me introduce to my friend *covers mouth a little and mumbles* Joarminsh.”

Or perhaps we should all start using his new nickname, The General, (I like Eick, don’t you?). (I promise not to push this one like I have pushed for Aaron Altherr to be The Rhineland Rocket. It’s not nearly as good and I’m bad at convincing people to use my terms anyway.)


THE GENERAL – Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey

In terms of on-field value, Eickhoff was the fourth piece in a six-piece deal that sent our beloved Cole to Texas in late July. He doesn’t have the upside of Jake Thompson on the hill, and C Jorge Alfaro and OF Nick Williams are also superior talents according to every evaluator I have read, but Eickhoff is more than a throw-in. He’s adding a little bit of extra certainty to an already close-to-the-majors package. Eickhoff likely gives you a bunch of decent or better MLB innings in 2016 and beyond, and if higher-ceiling arms below him eventually force him out of the rotation, he could become an attractive piece in trade. So do I give him a boost in his grade for being a good prospect?

Honestly, I don’t have to. He had a fairly remarkable debut for a young man pegged as a back-of-the-rotation talent. In his small sample of 51.0 IP, The General outperformed retrodictors, showing a 2.65 ERA versus a 3.25 and 3.60 FIP and xFIP, (FG), but still had a very strong K%-BB% of 17.7% off of an equally nice 6.4% BB Rate and 24.1% K Rate. FanGraphs gave him 1.2 WAR and BRef 1.8. So we simply multiply those by 4 to make the sample about the right size, and HOLY TOLEDO THAT’S LIKE A TOP TEN PITCHER! I can do that, right?

Corinne Landrey wrote about Eickhoff back in September, and pointed out that after a few starts, he finally started relying more on his best secondary pitch, his curveball, on September 15. (There’s a good FanGraphs piece she mentions as well, that describes Eickhoff adjusting his curve to the smaller seams on big league baseballs). From Sept. 15 to the end of the year, Jerad used the breaker more often, mostly at the expense of his mostly-ineffective change-up and less-than-dominant fourseam fastball. The split results below from BrooksBaseball.net, show a pitch that really helps him miss bats over these two very small samples, as he managed 16 of his last 25 Ks on the curve from Sept 15 through the end of the year, and 29/49 overall.

Eickhoff Data

Hopefully the recognition that he wasn’t having a great feel for the curve, and his improvement thereafter gives us an indication that this is a player who can adjust on the fly, and correct issues over the short term. Whether the heavier use of the more effective curve is enough to make Eickhoff a perennial multi-WAR type pitcher remains to be seen, but for a first time through the league, he did pretty well managing his arsenal and showing what he can do to turn around a bad situation. I am sure I am not alone in greatly looking forward to his 2016.

Grade: A, but instead of a letter grade, perhaps I should grade him with stars. Four of them, for The General. (That’s a lot, really, for a General. And also pretty good for a supposed back-end starter).

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  1. Romus

    October 22, 2015 08:16 AM

    Eickhoff says major league stitching on the balls is better griping then minor league balls’ stitching…result for him is his curveball’s nasty downbreak. Did not know balls were made differently.
    ‘retrodictors’…….vernacular of the SABR?

    • Brad Engler

      October 22, 2015 08:23 AM

      I saw someone say “retrodictors” once and it stuck. I think mostly because it sounded made up.

      • Romus

        October 22, 2015 09:49 AM

        After a little research…..Baseball Prospectus (BP), not SABR, I believe introduced, and perhaps coined the word about 4/5 years ago in a piece.
        And Bill Baer has used it a few times since.

      • Brad Engler

        October 22, 2015 02:25 PM

        I would wager a fairly hefty amount that I got it from Bill.

      • Romus

        October 22, 2015 05:29 PM

        But Mr Engler, I thought you were not a betting man!

  2. Timber

    October 22, 2015 02:31 PM

    A changeup seems unnecessary since his curveball is perfectly capable of neutralizing lefties. And missed in all of this is that his third best pitch, the slider, has generated whiffs at a crazy 25.6% rate. It’s only been eight starts, but his two breaking pitches have been nothing short of dominant.

    And a quick note on his fastball. Working with really small samples here, but the whiff rate on his 4 seamer in his first four starts was a lowly 3.3%. In his last four starts, it jumped to an above average 8.8%. Might just be randomness, but the big jump in swings and misses is promising.

    • Romus

      October 22, 2015 05:37 PM

      To have those two breaking pitches….curveball and also slider…in his repetoire is a plus.
      Most pitchers cannot master both at one time.
      Joe Kerrigan, I remember said, to use one or the other exclusively.
      And that late-season 4-seamer K-rate tick up is intriguing.
      He may have modified the grip a bit to get better movement or change the slot/angle of his delivery…but that would be noticeable..

  3. Michael C Lorah

    October 23, 2015 11:05 AM

    I look forward to seeing what he can do next year. I’m trying not to get my expectations too high, but it’s hard not to be pleased with what he’s shown us so far.

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