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2015 Season Projections: Jeremy Guthrie

He is still pitching.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Guthrie in 2014 lived up to his Twitter handle "TheRealJGuts" by gutting out start after start. He seemingly struggled in every outing, but often you'd look up and see he was in the sixth inning somehow still in a close game with the Royals having a chance to win it. He managed to pitch six or more innings in 23 of his 32 starts, although he gave up four runs or more in 15 of his starts. Game Three of the World Series last year was perhaps the quintessential Jeremy Guthrie start, as he failed to strike anyone out over five innings, but gave up just two runs to grit his way to a 3-2 victory.

In some ways, Guthrie had one of the best seasons of his career at age 35. His 4.32 FIP was the lowest of his career. Guthrie posted his best strikeout-to-walk ratio since his rookie season at 2.53, although he was 82nd in strikeouts-per-nine innings among 88 Major League starting pitchers who qualified for the ERA title. He also posted the 15th worst ERA and 12th worst fielding independent pitching (FIP) among qualified pitchers in baseball.

2014 Season 4.13 4.32 5.5 2.2 1.5
Career per 162 games 4.23 4.69 5.4 2.6 2.6
2015 ZIPS 4.39 4.66 5.1 2.3 0.6
2015 Steamer 4.37 4.55 5.2 2.4 0.9
2015 PECOTA 4.66 5.06 5.0 5.4 -1.1

Guthrie had a pretty wide split against righties/lefties last year, with lefties pounding him to a line of .297/.348/.480 while righties hit just .241/.291/.310 against him. He slumped badly in July giving up 22 runs in 19 2/3 innings of work in four starts that month, but rebounding to toss six shutout innings in his first August start against Oakland, followed by a complete game his next time out.

Despite his age, Guthrie has not lost anything on his fastball, with an average velocity in the low-90s. The pitch value on his fastball was actually the best he's seen in four years, and his changeup graded well. Instead, its been his breaking pitches that have declined lately. Guthrie did post the lowest home run ratio of his career last year, and allowed just nine home runs in sixteen starts at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals have a $10 million club option (with a $3.2 million buyout) on Guthrie for 2016 that they'd be very foolish to pick up. Fortunately, they have Kris Medlen signed for next year to step into the rotation, with Brandon Finnegan, Kyle Zimmer, and Sean Manaea hopefully ready to knock on the door by then as well. Guthrie has been a dependable back-of-the-rotation pitcher for the Royals ever since they acquired him in the Jonathan Sanchez trade back in 2012, but with Guthie turning 36 in April, his time as a useful pitcher is likely coming to an end soon.

What do you expect out of Jeremy Guthrie in 2015?