Continuing off the post R.J. made about the final bullpen spot, the newly designated for assignment, Dana Eveland is a name that seems interesting to me. Of course, I say this about nearly every pitcher that is either DFA or released, but Eveland intrigues me nonetheless.
Eveland, newly 26-years-old, is a left-handed pitcher who has spent time with the Milwaukee Brewers, Arizona Diamondbacks andmost recently the Oakland A's. Nearly splitting his appearances equally between starting and relief, Eveland has not had muchmajor league success. However, in the right role I think he can be a decent member of the bullpen especially in a Lance Cormier fashion.
Looking at Eveland's statistics, I get the same vibes I did when I pegged Cormier as a bullpen bargain in the winter of 2008. As mentioned he has spent his career between starting and relieving much like Cormier did before making a permanentswitch to relief. In his 83 appearances (44 starts), Eveland has a career ERA of 5.54, but his FIP is over a run lower at 4.36.Even his xFIP is nearly a full run lower than his ERA at 4.65. Of course an FIP of 4.36 isn't much to get excited over, but we're talking about the sixth man in the bullpen.
Eveland's flaws are pretty transparent. He wasn't blessed with a golden arm and lives around the 90 mph mark. He throws a slider, change-up and curve ball as well. In 2009, he added a cutter into the mix. With his average stuff, it is Not surprising that he doesn't miss many bats. His K/9 is around 6.5 career, but contact rate is over 80%. His biggest bug-a-boo comes in the form of walks. While striking out less than seven batters per nine innings, he's walking nearly five. That said, there are some aspects of his game that I find appealing especially as a bullpen arm.
Ground balls. Eveland gets them in bunches. For his career he is a 50.1% ground ball pitcher while giving up less than 28% fly balls. With that addition of the cutter, his GB% was a career high 56.5% last season. Less fly balls equal less home run opportunities and his HR/9 is a stellar 0.65 career wise.
Despite, the heavy ground pounding effort, Eveland still has that ERA in the 5.50 range. We can chalk this up to some severe bad luck in the BABIP category. For his career his BABIP is .347. In 44 innings during the 2009 season, his BABIP was a ridiculous .393. I'm pretty amazed that his BABIP is nearly .350 given the 276 innings under his belt.
In his only full season in relief, he tossed 31 innings over 27 games for the Milwaukee Brewers. His FIP for that season was 4.19. Lance Cormier had a 4.18 FIP last season. Of course, Eveland's ERA that year was 5.97 thanks to a .364 BABIP; maybe he's just in a relationship with bad karma.
Really when it all comes down to it, Eveland is probably as useful as a Dale Thayer or a Winston Abreu in the grand scheme of things. However, he is younger than both and comes cheap. I'm not saying he is worthy of a roster spot right now, but he is definitely worth a non-roster invite (if we ever hand out any). It would only create even more competition during the spring and possibly even more depth to an already deep Durham bullpen.