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.
David Buchanan has allowed 3 ER or less last 13 starts, longest streak by Phillies rookie since Bruce Ruffin 16 straight starts in 1986— John Clark CSN (@JClarkCSN) September 10, 2014
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.
|1||Bruce Ruffin (RoY-7th)||3.7||1986||22||21||21||9||4||146.1||2.46||3.27|
|4||Ben Rivera (RoY-7th)||2.7||1992||24||20||14||7||3||102||2.82||3.51|
|6||Kyle Kendrick (RoY-5th)||2.2||2007||22||20||20||10||4||121||3.87||4.94|
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.