A Reason For Pessimism About Jacob Turner

According to Keith Law, the Cubs have acquired Jacob Turner from the Marlins for “a couple of minor leaguers”. Turner was a pretty high profile prospect a few years ago, is just 23, and this acquisition falls in line with the Cubs buying low on young pitching and seeing what sticks. Assuming the two minor leaguers have minimal value, this is probably a decent enough move by the Cubs, because young arms sometimes turn into Jake Arrieta.

But before we throw the Cubs a parade for acquiring Turner, let’s maybe point out something of importance: the current version of Jacob Turner does not belong in a Major League rotation, and barring some dramatic improvement from either his change-up or his curveball, he profiles best as a middle reliever.

Since the start of the 2011 season, 149 pitchers have thrown at least 100 innings against left-handed batters. By K%-BB%, Turner ranks 147th. Here are his peers in controlling the strike zone against lefties.

Name K% BB% K-BB% xFIP
Jason Marquis 12% 13% -1% 5.26
Luis Mendoza 11% 11% 1% 4.88
Jacob Turner 12% 11% 1% 4.82
Jhoulys Chacin 12% 11% 1% 4.82
Jake Westbrook 10% 8% 2% 4.68

Marquis is a replacement level scrub at the end of his career. Mendoza is a swing guy who makes spot starts when someone is hurt. Westbrook is out of baseball. The only guy in this mix who has had any real value of late is Chacin, who has succeed by limiting BABIP and HR/FB ratio while pitching in Colorado. Turner hasn’t shown the same ability to limit hard contact, and his results have actually been worse than his also-bad peripherals.

Yes, Turner is 23, and yes, there’s plenty of time for him to live up to the promise he showed as a minor leaguer. Maybe the change-up will get better and he’ll have a real weapon against left-handers someday. He doesn’t right now, though, and until he does, he’s going to project as a reliever, and not even the kind of reliever you can trust with full-inning, high-leverage appearances.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

26 Comments
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Kyle
8 years ago

Had to go all the way back to 2011 to get to the conclusion you wanted to reach?

Needs more $/WAR massaging.

Doogolas
8 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

My only issue with the article is the fact that, well, does anyone need to be told to be pessimistic about a guy with mediocre peripherals who was DFA’d? This wasn’t a high profile move, as you said, it was buy low and hope you can fix something. There just doesn’t seem to be a reason to bother talking about why this move might be bad because it was essentially a 0 risk move. The Cubs have up 2 A ball relievers. The article just feels… Pointless.

vivalajeter
8 years ago
Reply to  Doogolas

Doogolas, if that’s your issue with the article then you shouldn’t be reading instagraphs. The whole point of creating instagraphs is for articles like this. From the original instagraphs article:

(Some) “things are worth pointing out, but not worth writing eight paragraphs about, so they’ve generally ended up on the cutting room floor….Essentially, this will be the place for things that are interesting enough to note but aren’t full articles, though maybe eventually they’ll turn into one. Or maybe not.”

Doogolas
8 years ago
Reply to  Doogolas

Viva, the difference is I don’t think what he said IS worth pointing out. It’s very obvious why people DO NOT like Turner. Writing something else is much more worthwhile. I understand the purpose of instagraphs.

Sinnycal
8 years ago
Reply to  Doogolas

It would’ve been more interesting to dig into what the Cubs might think they can fix than to simply toss his splits up and say, “he’s been bad.” Maybe do a comparison between Turner and Arrieta at the time the Cubs acquired him and then predict what you might expect if they’re able to help him make the same adjustments. I dunno, just anything more insightful than, “news flash: recently DFA’d pitcher has not been pitching well.”

Iron
8 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

Oh, being snarky and clever is good fun. But being snarky and wrong is just pathetic.

Kyle
8 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

I was going to try living my life by putting together an interesting stats site and convincing people that this made my shallow analysis interesting, but someone beat me to it.

H.villanueva
8 years ago
Reply to  Kyle

I have to agree. Fangraphs is awesome. Dave Cameron sucks.

Lenard
8 years ago
Reply to  Kyle

Horatio Villanueva (I can only assume that’s your name), it seems like a smart business decision to go on a website, deride the main writer and editor, and then link to whatever product you’re promoting. I bet that will send your sales through the roof.

Eminor3rd
8 years ago
Reply to  Kyle

So you’ve settled for being an asshole in the comments section.

Well-Beered Englishman
8 years ago
Reply to  Kyle

All the great minds of the western world started out as assholes in the comments section.

Craig Kline
8 years ago
Reply to  Dave Cameron

Dave, imo, no need for the ad hominem shot at how someone who disagrees with you “lives [their] life.”

An interwebs poster disagreed with your use of data. No need for the passive-aggressive fake “good luck” E-taunting, etc.