The Cleveland Indians are in dire need of a stabilizing force in the back end of their bullpen. Nick Goody used to be just that, but he’s struggled of late.
As little as three weeks ago, you could’ve made a legitimate argument that Nick Goody was the best reliever in the Cleveland Indians bullpen.
Goody made his first appearance for the Tribe on June 5, and he admittedly came out of the gates a little walk-happy. Over his first seven outings, he walked 7.27 hitters per nine, good for a woeful 17.5% walk rate. He also gave up two home runs in this span.
His batted-ball numbers over these seven appearances included a 45% hard-hit rate and a 40% fly ball rate. He was inducing grounders at just a 30% clip. Combine these metrics with his tendency to issue free passes, and Goody looked poised for a dreadful 2019 season.
Then he turned things around in almost every facet. From June 25 through August 11, Goody didn’t allow a single earned run. This nearly-two-month stretch amounted to 17 total mound appearances and 20 combined innings.
He walked just 2.25 hitters per nine, slicing his walk rate to 6.9%. Goody also maintained a 31.5% strikeout rate, which was right in line with what he had done in his first few outings. The only thing left for him to address was a batted-ball rate, and he did just that.
Goody continued to allow a high volume of fly balls during this span (51.1%), but he cut down his hard-hit rate to 26.7%. Hitters can try to launch-angle you out of the park all they want, but if they can’t barrel the ball up, it isn’t going to do much good.
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With the walks no longer biting him, the strikeout numbers still as high as can be, and the batted-ball metrics having begun to work in his favor, Goody established himself as one of the most reliable arms in Terry Francona’s bullpen.
Then came a forgettable August 14 outing in which Goody allowed the Red Sox to tag him for three earned runs on a walk and two hits. No big deal. He had been near perfect for the better part of six weeks. He was due for one bad outing.
His underlying numbers from August 14 to present day, however, indicate a full-fledged regression to where he started the season. Goody has given up four home runs in eight innings–including a back-breaking three-run blast to Mitch Garver on Saturday night–and free passes have once again begun to plague him.
His walk rate is back up to an unhealthy 14.6%, while his strikeout numbers are down significantly to 19.5%. He is allowing hard contact on 48.2% of batted balls with a staggering 63% fly ball rate.
These are disastrous numbers at any point in the season for any pitcher, but for the eighth-inning guy on a team trying to win every game during the home stretch of a playoff race, they’re outright terrifying.
The good news is it’s a relatively small sample of appearances. Again, allowing zero earned runs for six weeks is not sustainable. The bad news is Goody and the Indians are running out of time to climb out of this rough patch.
The fly ball numbers are likely to continue being a part of the equation with Goody no matter what, but if he can get back to missing bats, inducing weak contact, and limiting free passes, he can return to being the late-game force the Tribe relied on earlier in the summer.
If he continues to struggle, expect to see more of Tyler Clippard, Nick Wittgren, and now Carlos Carrasco in the latter stages of close games.