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2012 Phillies Exit Interview: Tyler Cloyd

Asked to step in after a stellar, if misleading year in the minors, the bloom is off Cloyd's rose, but he still has promise.

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Tyler Cloyd at Baseball Reference

Tyler Cloyd at Fangraphs

Prior to August 29th of this year, Tyler Cloyd could have been used as a barometer for the kind of Phillies fan that you were talking to, particularly as concerns their preferred method for valuing pitchers. When Cloyd was brought up in conversation, did the fan you were talking to burst into a fit of rage at the short-sightedness of Ruben Amaro, Jr and Charlie Manuel for not trading Cliff Lee when we had that cheap, young ace in Lehigh Valley? You were talking to a traditional fan, a lover of the classic statistics, and a fan who doesn't think he invited you in, so if you'd please get off his lawn because he isn't afraid to call the police or to make things simpler by dusting off Old Bertha, so just start moseying. Did the fan roll their eyes while referencing Cloyd's paltry K/9 and rising BB/9, maybe making an off-handed reference to pre-renaissance Kyle Kendrick? You were talking to a die-hard advanced stats fan, and woebetide the fool who would use DIPS instead of xFIP around this one.

Did the fan wish Cloyd well while cautioning you to not exaggerate your expectations too much? You were talking to taco pal. Good choice.

All this is to say is that Cloyd, prior to his call-up, was the Platonic vision of the kind of player whose value depends on which end of the traditional stats/advanced stats line one falls. He had a sterling 15-1 record over 26 Games Started across AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley, and he pitched to a combined 2.26 ERA along the way. That said, while his 25 innings in Reading (1.80 ERA) were backed by a solid FIP (2.60) and good, if not gaudy peripherals (7.2 K/9 and, even better, a 1.08 BB/9 and .36 HR/9), the lion's share of his innings (142.0) came in Lehigh Valley, where his ERA stayed solid (2.35), but his FIP (4.06), K/9 (5.89), BB/9 (2.41), and even HR/9 (.89) screamed "REGRESSION!" Who would prove more able to predict pitcher performance? Would Cloyd prove everyone wrong?

Sadly, as the downers amongst us had preordained, regress Cloyd did. But this was not the regression any of us would have guessed. Small sample size abounds, but in 33 big league innings, Cloyd struck out more per nine than his minor league ratio (8.18), walked less per nine than his minor league ratio (1.91), but saw his HR/9 skyrocket to 2.18. This lead to a far-from-pretty 4.91 ERA and 5.25 FIP. The Greg Maddux mythology of the slop tossing righty who is just controlled enough to excel failed once again, and now the common sense account is likely that Cloyd is a fifth starter or a long man, not the presumptive ace of the staff.

But there was that moment towards the middle of the season where Cloyd could have gone either way in the public consciousness -- ace or quad-A. The important thing to remember is that Cloyd isn't exactly defined by his 33 big league innings any more than he is defined by his 167 minor league innings this year. We might reasonably temper our expectations based on his minor league record, but if there is a world where Cloyd can get back to the stellar HR/9 of his AA and AAA innings while maintaining even a semblance of the K/9 and BB/9 he had in Philly...well, you can still dream on him a little bit, right?

Anyway, in the interest of giving Cloyd a much-needed injection of attitude (Can we put him in more of a hip hop context? I feel we should rastafy him by...ten percent or so.), Cloyd has worked to give himself a new voice. Thanks to his somewhat ambiguous season, it's kind of intense and dark, so we'll make what we can out of this interview from Ruben Amaro Jr's stolen blackberry (some useful reference information to Tyler's madness here):

State your name for the record.

I'm Tyler.


Tyler the Creator. Of outs.


Just ask the questions.

1. How did you let your teammates down this season?

I'm a stat nerd's living paradox; no I'm not. Pitching like I should be wearing knee-socks, hurling I'm rockin' 80 on the radar, throwing fastballs like Moyer, ex-Rox; changeup sinking like a bag of sluggish gemstones, making fly outs like I'm in a no-ground-zone. My catcher Kratz is trying to get down, but I was about six inches up and out above the strike zone.

2. How did you let your manager and GM down this season?

Amaro, follow the fallen men, I'm'a fill in, not from the pen, while Chollie's tellin' me that Dubes been getting intimate with just who I am. Chuck, shut the heck up, here's the number to Ryne Sandberg, tell him all of your problems, he's pretty good at managing.

3. What do you have to say to all the fans you let down this season?

Forget that, Mikey Miss and all of them, I'll virus up the site that Sam Donnellon has his pulpit in, and smack David Murphy in that notebook-news source infogram, and won't stop til Kyle Scott gives in. I'm an overachiever, so how about I try to win the Series and pick up Laynce Nix to be my long reliever -- wide zones, big parks, freaky fast outfielders all I want, forget shirt sales, fan mail, Cy Youngs don't need em. But where the "ill" shirts at, I got some consolation reading -- some b-pro projections, real fans never needed to read em.

4. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst, how do you rate on the "it's my fault we're in this freaking mess and missed the playoffs scale."

I'm guessing 8 minus 6, to end up at 2, to get revenge of the Pigs, that's nine pros that pitch nine. It's not just Aumont or Ruf filling time, but after Vance, I went to the mound until my arm wasn't feeling fine. I was all that I think I could be, and pitched every fifth in the red pinstriped uni; our shot was gone, the wild card kept moving up the standings. I'm not lazy, I just want to develop without pressure.

5. Other than yourself, which player caused this fiasco of a season the most?

BJ called, he said he's sick of the disses, I told him to stop wishing and to go back to the bullpen landline. Thinks he's ready for a start cause his ERA's under nine, while I'm going out to war, I know he's wasting his dang time. Switch back, Billmeyer's got sixth inning free, it's been a couple months, and BJ's still ain't got a simple save, like, lame.