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What to expect from Gavin Floyd

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Gavin Floyd will make his season debut against the Cardinals tonight

David Tulis

As you are probably well aware, Gavin Floyd will make his season debut tonight in place of a dinged up Ervin Santana. Santana has been pushed back from his scheduled start because of bruising on his thumb, but he's hopeful to return to the rotation Saturday.

The Braves signed Floyd this offseason on an incentive laden deal as the right hander recovered from Tommy John. Ben did a great job breaking down these incentives in a post a couple of weeks ago.

So what can we expect from Floyd tonight?

To start from a general standpoint, Floyd is about as close to a league average pitcher as you can get. Over the course of his career he's posted a 102 ERA-, 99 FIP- (100 = league average). His strikeout and walk rates have also hovered right around league average in recent seasons, 20% and 8%, respectively. However, it appears that his best years, where he posted back-to-back +4 win seasons, are in the rearview. Pitching in his age 31 season, this shouldn't come as a surprise.

According to Brooks Baseball, he sports a five pitch arsenal: fastball (37%), curveball (21%), sinker (19%), slider (19%) and changeup (4%). He features his fastball and sinker at around the same rate to both righties and lefties, but prefers to go to the slider against righties and the change up against lefties. This split is fairly common as you usually see a pitcher prefer to throw pitches that move away from the hitter. He will also spin a curveball, but almost exclusively when ahead in the count and with two strikes.

Floyd's fastball isn't anything overpowering, sitting low 90's with the occasional ability to touch 95. The change up and slider offer a relative change of pace, with the curveball sitting about 10-12 mph below his fastball. It will be interesting to see if he continues to favor his sinker as he did in his brief stint last April, in an attempt to induce more ground balls. However, as you might have guessed, he has been relatively neutral through the course of his career in respect to his batted ball tendencies.

If there is one downside to Floyd, it is that he has been victim to the long ball. Over the course of his career, he has only posted one season with a HR/FB ratio under 10% (league average), with a career rate of 12%. He could see a decrease in homers because he no longer has to pitch at US Cellular in Chicago, one of the more homer friendly parks in the league. Hopefully Turner Field can be a slight cure and his ERA will reflect it accordingly.

At the end of the day, there is very little upside with Floyd. He has a league average pitcher who has carried league average strikeout and walk rates in recent seasons. It's not sexy, but a friendly remember that league average means the numbers he projects to put up are better than half the pitchers in the league. With Teheran, Minor, Santana and Wood expected to carry the staff, Floyd, if he sticks in the rotation, is a very serviceable fifth starter.

His future role past tonight is still unknown, but let's hope he can give the offense a chance to win and break this losing skid.