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David Buchanan has been better than you think

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The right-hander is in the midst of the best streak by a Phils' rookie since 1986.

Mitchell Leff

Get used to David Buchanan in the Phillies starting rotation. He isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Because the Phillies will likely be a bit shorthanded in the rotation next year, the 25-year-old right-hander was already pretty much guaranteed a starting spot for 2015. But his recent string of effective pitching is helping to make the thought of him pitching regular innings next year a reasonable one.

Last night, Buchanan was effective once again in the Phils' 4-3 win over Pittsburgh, going six innings and giving up two earned runs on four hits with five strikeouts and three walks. It's a continuation of the roll he's been on since mid-June.

Hey! A Bruce Ruffin reference! Sweet! In fact, according to Baseball Reference, Ruffin had the best rookie season of any Phillies pitcher since 1980. There are some fun names on this list.

Rank Player WAR Year Age G GS W L IP ERA FIP
1 Bruce Ruffin (RoY-7th) 3.7 1986 22 21 21 9 4 146.1 2.46 3.27
2 Vance Worley 3.4 2011 23 25 21 11 3 131.2 3.01 3.32
3 Charles Hudson 2.8 1983 24 26 26 8 8 169.1 3.35 3.5
4 Ben Rivera (RoY-7th) 2.7 1992 24 20 14 7 3 102 2.82 3.51
5 Cole Hamels 2.3 2006 22 23 23 9 8 132.1 4.08 3.98
6 Kyle Kendrick (RoY-5th) 2.2 2007 22 20 20 10 4 121 3.87 4.94
7 Marty Bystrom 1.7 1980 21 6 5 5 0 36 1.5 2.7
8 Pat Combs 1.6 1989 22 6 6 4 0 38.2 2.09 2.35
9 Jonathan Pettibone 1.5 2013 22 18 18 5 4 100.1 4.04 4.18
10 Mike Mimbs 1.2 1995 26 35 19 9 7 136.2 4.15 4.47
11 Kevin Gross 1.2 1983 22 17 17 4 6 96 3.56 4.33
12 Rob Tejeda 1.1 2005 23 26 13 4 3 85.2 3.57 4.16
13 Brandon Duckworth 1.1 2001 25 11 11 3 2 69 3.52 3.79
14 David Buchanan 0.7 2014 25 16 16 6 7 93.1 3.95 4.4
15 Gavin Floyd 0.6 2004 21 6 4 2 0 28.1 3.49 4.04

Buchanan's 0.7 rWAR is 14th among all rookie Phils starters since '80, with the best season far and away Ruffin's 3.7 rWAR in 1986.

I knew there was a reason I was so excited about Ruffin when I was a kid.

But there is one important thing to note about Buchanan. Even though his rookie season has gone pretty well, it's not exactly indicative of a long and fruitful career.

Of those 13 pitchers listed above, only Kevin Gross (1988) and Cole Hamels (2007, 2011 & 2012) made an All-Star team during their career. There have been many "nice" rookie seasons from Phils pitchers, only to see those career careen into a sea of higher WHIPs and lower WARs.

Buchanan's peripherals indicate a player who might have a hard time sustaining this kind of run long-term. His 14.8% K-rate is below the league average of 20.3%, and his BABIP of .285 is a bit below the league average of .295. His FIP of 4.35 indicates his defense, and some luck, has helped him out a bit as well.

That being said, his 6.8% walk rate is better than the league average, and he keeps the ball on the ground, with a GB% of 50.5% this year, much better than the league average of 44.9%.

It's been a very nice rookie campaign for Buchanan, and he's almost certainly locked in a spot in next year's starting rotation. It's possible he could be a very solid #5 starter for the Phillies, hopefully a more consistent version of Kyle Kendrick, only much, much cheaper.

David Buchanan has been better than you think this year. The Phils hope he'll be better than we think next year, too.