On Losing Carlos Guevara to Colorado

In my introductory post, I mentioned how I wasn’t emotionally tied to the Padres, and thus would be a solidly objective evaluator of the Friars’ goings-on.

Alas, the metaphorical ink has barely had time to dry on that, and I’m already confronted with the movement of one of my favorite players.

But hey, Carlos Guevara throws a screwball, and if you ask me, that’s pretty freakin’ awesome.

Guevara, who spent some time in the Padres’ bullpen in 2008 with decent results, was signed to a minor league contract by the rival Colorado Rockies last week.

I just covered how the Padres have a big overload of pitchers, so I suppose Guevara is redundant, but I believe he could be a solid MLB reliever if anyone would give him an extended shot.

Guevara posted a 3.48 FIP last year in Double-A. He had a 3.37 mark at Triple-A in 2008. In his minor league career, he’s struck out 438 men in 356 1/3 innings, good for an incredible 11.1 K/9.

And why?

It’s that screwball.

Guevara’s scroogie isn’t just a trick pitch like R.J. Swindle’s 50-mph curve, Josh Banks’ knuckleball, or Armando Galarraga’s knuckle-curve; it’s his out pitch, and it moves like crazy.

Guevara also tosses in an 87-mph heater and an 80-mph slider that’s average at best. He even throws the occasional curveball in the low 70’s.

However, it’s the 74-78 mph screwball, which he throws about 30% of the time, that is responsible for Guevara’s high strikeout numbers.

He also has good command, with a 3.34 K/BB ratio in his minor league career.

The bias against Guevara is pretty much that nobody knows what to do when evaluating the guy. How do you evaluate a screwball? Not since Jim Mecir has there been an MLB pitcher who really relies on the pitch, and it’s unknown if the pitch could translate to the majors.

Rather than try to figure out if Guevara’s nasty pitch could work in the majors, most analysts and observers seem to just forget about the conundrum the pitch presents. Then you get statements like “It’s just a trick pitch and won’t work in the majors.”

I doubt the Padres will regret letting Guevara go to Colorado, given their own depth of right-handed relievers, but if he can overcome the bias against his odd skills and get a hold of 40 MLB innings, the soon-to-be-28-year-old Guevara could still amount to something.

Tags: Carlos Guevara Padres Rockies

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