Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On Starting Trevor May

Coming over for Ben Revere from the Philadelphia Phillies, Trevor May was the headliner of a trade made in the same offseason that the Minnesota Twins acquired former prospect Alex Meyer. May was projected to be a solid starter in the rotation, and was someone that should be counted on to contribute for quite some time. After splitting duties between starting and relieving, May seems the odds on favorite to round out Paul Molitor's starting rotation in 2017.

In 2016, May pitched exclusively as a reliever turning in 42.2 IP. He compiled a 5.27 ERA along with a 3.80 FIP. The production was backed by a strong 12.7 K/9 and a less than ideal 3.6 BB/9. As a reliever, May's velocity and strikeouts both predictably received a nice bump. What was the largest downside however, was a guy that was being asked to get ready much more quickly than he had ever experienced before. The unfortunate side effect was a nagging back issue that sidelined May for portions of the 2016 season.

If for no other reason than to get him healthy and productive, moving May out of the pen makes sense. Then there's the reality that there may actually be another reason. May could actually be a calming presence in the Twins rotation.

He made nine starts in his big league debut season in 2014, and followed that up with another 16 starts in 2015. While there was obviously a transition period out of the gate, May settled in somewhat during 2015. He tallied a 4.43 ERA that was backed by a better FIP and a 7.9 K/9. While not the dominating strikeout force starting as he is relieving, he still posts numbers that rank among the Twins best.

Ideally, the Twins would like to see May improve upon the .772 OPS he allowed opposing hitters while starting in 2015. That number can somewhat be explained by the 13 triples and home runs (5/8 respectively) that he surrendered in just 83.1 IP.

Working as a starter, May's fastball sits around 92 miles per hour, and his slider registers right around 10 mph slower. He is primarily a fastball thrower, but mixes in offspeed right around one-third of the time. If he can jump his swinging strike rate a bit higher than the 10% it sits at while he's starting, May could keep opposing batters off balance a bit more. Also, as a starter, he allowed contact right around 84% of the time. Turning a few more batted balls into soft or medium contact would go a long ways to help his cause as well.

Trying to project completely what May is as a starter for the Twins is a difficult task. He's bounced between roles too often, and really a total of 25 starts over the past three years is hardly being able to settle into anything. That being said, a clean bill of health, a bit more consistency, and a perceived level of stability add up to someone that should be a solid addition for Molitor's group.

I wouldn't expect Trevor May to push for a Cy Young any time soon, and he may not put up the flashiest numbers, but 2017 could well be his strongest season at the big league level.

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