In the popular early 90s TV show ‘Harry and the Hendersons’, a young family – the Hendersons – take in the eponymous Harry and adopt him as a pet of sorts. A mascot. Harry is very much part of the Hendersons’ everyday lives until he isn’t, on account of the fact that Harry is a Sasquatch, a Bigfoot.
A big, hairy, ugly Sasquatch.
But the kicker is this, he is also a normal guy! Really friendly! The kids love him! Don’t run away!
So, the Orioles signed Andrew Cashner in February.
In many ways, Cashner is the Orioles own version of Harry.
He is big – 6’6″!
He is hairy!
He is ugly!
So far, so Sasquatch.
In fact, Cashner’s career trajectory suggests he bears more in common with the mythical and savage beast than the cartoonish oaf beloved of 90s light-entertainment.
A recent Jeff Sullivan piece for Fangraphs laid bare just how rotten Cashner has become.
[In 2017] Cashner’s strikeout rate dropped by the most. The most! He made 28 starts, and was for the most part healthy, but his strikeouts just plain cratered. His walk rate barely budged. Where Cashner finished with an ERA- of 74, he also finished with an FIP- of 103, and an xFIP- of 121. The season before, and the season before that, Cashner’s ERA was worse than his peripherals.
You read this and it begs a question. Surely..? SURELY, the Orioles aren’t signing Cashner on account of his 2017 ERA? That stood at a handsome 3.40, but belied the fact that – as Sullivan notes – his peripherals were staggeringly poor.
Perhaps a quick run down of those stats might help explain:
K/9 – 4.64 (4.64! Chris Sale‘s was 12.93)
WHIP – 1.32 (not too bad)
BABIP – .266 (Okay, that WHIP is bad)
LOB – 74.6%
HR/FB% – 8.6
Hang on, what? WHAT? 8.6% in the AL in the uppercut barrels era?
2017 Andrew Cashner WAS a magical creature. Like a Bigfoot, living with a family.
So what about the 2018 Andrew Cashner? Orioles vintage Sasquatch?
Err, he looks good?
In two Spring Training outings, over a solid 9 innings, Cashner holds an ERA on 1.00.
In those 9 innings, Cashner has given up a single run.
By contrast, his fellow underwhelming rotation filler Chris Tillman is sitting on a horrifying 6.43 headline.
He holds a 0.89 WHIP, has worked at an economical 6.1 pitches per inning and – in contrast to his previous spring tune ups – is throwing strikes. 74.6% against a 2016 rate of 60%, and a 2017 rate of 61.8%.
Nine innings, of course. Lest we forget Wade Miley working his way into the Brewers rotation conversation before imploding in a 10 hit, 3 inning outing against the Reds last Friday before we make any rash predictions.
But maybe, maybe the miracle can continue – the Sasquatch can continue to live with the kids. As O’s superstar Manny Machado put it after Cashner’s latest hot, Spring Training showing
He’s pounding the zone. He’s getting it on the ground, striking guys out, making us play, working quick. It’s fun to play behind him. Hopefully, he can keep it up.
You’ll recall that saying about hope.
It kills you.
Like a Sasquatch would blatantly kill a young family and kids if it were even real.
Like the suits killed Harry and the Hendersons once people realised the fallacy of the premise.
Like hope, in the cipher of Andrew Cashner. The Sasquatch. Andrew Flipping Cashner will kill you.
It’s not the hope that kills you. It’s the voodoo. The voodoo, the hope of the Sasquatch.
Well, that or the xFIP chart.