So Ryan Feierabend has picked up his first Major League quality start in 14 tries. It's a bad stat, yes, but bad stats are generally your only option when you're trying to be nice to bad pitchers, since good stats tend to tell them how bad they are. Three runs and ten baserunners in seven innings against an AL contender. The Mariners have gotten worse starts.
However, the truth of the matter is that Feierabend really didn't pitch that well. Or maybe he did pitch well, and the Twins just hit the ball hard. I don't know, I couldn't watch. But either way, this was a quality start that, in all honesty, he didn't deserve.
Feierabend allowed nine line drives and seven outfield flies on 23 balls in play (excluding a bunt). That's...that's bad is what that is. The league average line drive rate is 19%, so to surrender nine on 23 hits against a Mauerless lineup requires some kind of aversion to throwing good pitches the likes of which I didn't think would allow a guy to make it to the Major Leagues. Given this sort of ball in play profile, most nights Feierabend would've struggled to make it through five. That he lasted through seven is nice and all, but his final line in no way reflects the true quality of his start.
That RRS did what he was able to do last night against a better version of the same team looks a little brighter now than it would've had Feierabend come out and set the Twins down. Maybe I'm not being fair to Feierabend. Maybe he shouldn't be used as a calibration standard. But I'm doing it anyway. For me, Feierabend serves as a baseline against which other back-of-the-rotation candidates should be judged. Or if you prefer, he's the cardboard cutout the other candidates have to be taller than if they want to ride the ride. Ryan Feierabend is not a Major League pitcher. At least, not right now. His only strong offering is his changeup, which makes him kind of the starting version of Cesar Jimenez, and I'm having enough trouble trying to like the relief version of Cesar Jimenez. So with that in mind, if you're an aspiring starter in the organization, and you're getting a chance to show your stuff, you better outperform Ryan Feierabend. Because if you don't, then you've still got a ways to go.
RRS outperformed Ryan Feierabend. He missed more bats, he flashed better offspeed stuff, and he generated way better balls in play. It's important for him to get that kind of separation, because I was having trouble taking him seriously after Feierabend duplicated his start against Oakland. Hopefully this'll serve as a launching-off point. Now that he's shown demonstrably better ability than the organization's Plan H, it'd be great to see him sustain his improvements. After all, there's no better time than the present for RRS to state his case for being a starter of the future. The door's wide open. He just needs to walk through it.
Thank you, Ryan Feierabend, for being sufficiently mediocre as to make me more certain of just how well RRS pitched. You may not be much good at pitching, but you're pretty good at assuaging my doubt.