Believe in Burch?

USA TODAY Sports

The reviews of San Diego Padres starter Burch Smith have been mixed after just two major league starts. To believe, or not to believe? That is the question.

You won't often find me excited about a pitcher who, managing make it to the major leagues after being drafted in the 14th round, gives up 11 ER in his first six and a third innings. San Diego Padres pitcher Burch Smith might be different, however. Smith was chased after just one inning in his first start against the Rays on May 11th, but came back from that to make a relatively impressive start against the Washington Nationals last Friday.

Apart from giving up three home runs, Burch Smith was pretty impressive, striking out eight Nationals in five and a third innings of work. Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs made a pretty interesting point about Smith's start:

Smith’s single-game ERA and FIP were 8.44 and 7.90, respectively — which is to say, not ideal. His single-game xFIP, however (which metric normalizes home-run rate per fly ball), was just 2.49 — which is to say, much better.

I would like to believe in Burch Smith. Allow me to clarify that. I believe that Burch Smith exists, you can read his name on the Padres 40 man roster. That's enough proof for me. However, I don't believe that Burch Smith will be a viable member of the Padres starting rotation in the long term. Smith has an above average changeup, but the pitch he leans most heavily on is his fastball, and that might be a problem. Take a look at the chart below, from Brooks Baseball.

Burch_smith_may_17_vs_nationals_medium

Smith's fastball sat 93-96 MPH for the first couple innings, but as you can see on the chart above, his fastball velocity dropped off dramatically as he pitched deeper into the game. Obviously, this could be a one outing issue, but if Smith wants to be a major league starter in the long term, he probably needs to hold his velocity better.

I asked Jason Cole of Lonestar Dugout what he thought of Burch Smith when he saw him pitch in the Texas League, and he said Smith was would likely be a good 8th innings guy. Based on what I saw in his first two starts, I have to agree with Cole's assessment.

As a known Padres homer, I want to believe in Burch Smith. Hell, I want him to be an All-Star. Unfortunately, based on the actual evidence, I'm not convinced.

Btbs-twitter-insert_medium

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Join Beyond the Box Score

You must be a member of Beyond the Box Score to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Beyond the Box Score. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker