The Maytag repairman has nothing on the Darin Gorski fan club.
The story goes that Maytags were so dependable that their repairmen got lonely since they had nothing to do. As the driver of the Gorski fan club bus, I keep looking to see if anyone has taken any of the seats behind me and see nothing but tumbleweeds rolling down the aisle.
FanGraphs, John Sickels, Baseball America, Amazin’ Avenue and Bullpen Banter did not list Gorski as one of the club’s top 10 prospects heading into the season. FG listed 15 players and did not mention him. Sickels had 25 players before including Gorski in a grouping called “others.” Perhaps the worst was Gorski being ranked 36th on AA’s top 50 list.
In addition to being ignored as a top prospect, each of these lists had numerous pitchers ranked ahead of him. By now these players are overly familiar to every Mets fan.
You know Wheeler, Montero,
Lara and Noah.
Mazzoni and Fulmer
Robles and Ynoa.
But do you recall the most neglected prospect of all?
Until this point, Gorski’s success in the minors has either been dismissed or denied and it’s hard to tell which one stings more. When he put up an 11-3 mark with a 2.08 ERA in 2011 it was, the experts told us, simply because he was old for his league. Last year when he finished in the top 20 in the Eastern League in both innings (18th, 139.2) and strikeouts (8th, 118) and had a 12-game stretch at the end of the year where he went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA, nobody paid any attention or thought it important in the slightest.
Perhaps the worst came early this year when Gorski was sidelined with an injury. In a note detailing how many of the club’s top prospects were on the shelf, I was able to find injury information on all but one player. No one thought Gorski was important enough to report his injury. It wasn’t until after he returned that we found out it was a shoulder injury.
After starting the year in Triple-A, Gorski was sent back to Double-A when he resumed pitching this year. With Binghamton, he’s 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA and has 9 BB and 29 Ks in 26.2 IP. Noah Syndergaard puts up a 2.16 ERA in five starts at Double-A and he’s on the fast track to the majors. Gorski puts up equivalent numbers and it doesn’t even merit a shrug among the prospect hounds.
The Mets have both quality and depth among pitching prospects and it’s somewhat understandable how Gorski has gotten lost in the shuffle. He did not go to a big school (Kutztown St.), was not a high pick (7th round) and did not experience success in the minors until 2011. He’s not overpowering and no one would ever describe his motion to the plate as pretty.
But at the same time, no one should deny the success that he’s had at Double-A. Lefties who hit 90 and can throw three pitches for strikes with command do not exactly grow on trees. He has the repertoire to be a starter and he can pitch deep into games. Last year he had 16 Quality Starts. This year, because of the injury and then weather-shortened games once he returned, Gorski has only 1 QS. However, it came in his last outing, when he went six innings, gave up three hits and struck out six.
Given how the current manager loves lefty relievers, no doubt some will suggest this is the future home for Gorski. It’s never a good idea to place a player in a role smaller than he’s capable of performing adequately at the major league level. There’s simply not enough pitching to go around and squander assets. Unlike Robert Carson, Gorski has had success in the high minors as a starting pitcher.
Perhaps just as importantly, Gorski has not displayed the typical platoon split one associates with a lefty pitcher. This year he’s limited RHB to a .512 OPS while LHB have a .956 OPS against him. Thankfully, that does not scream LOOGY to anyone. He should continue to be used now and thought of in the future as a starting pitcher.
It’s likely that the Mets will have five starting pitchers better than Gorski the rest of the decade. This is what’s known as a good problem to have. The ultimate value Gorski provides the Mets may very well come as part of a trade. And that’s fine since one of the functions of the farm system is to develop guys who are good enough for other organizations to want to acquire.
In the meantime, let’s continue to monitor Gorski’s progress this year. And if he puts up numbers that would make a prospect-watcher drool if they came from one of his more-heralded organization mates, perhaps you could find it in your hearts to give him some love, too.
It would make Gordon Jump and any of the other Maytag repairmen on the Gorski bus happy to have some company.