The Rays fan who clicks over to Todd Redmond's FanGraphs page can be forgiven for having a small freakout. I sure did. He's not a pitcher I know well, but on the surface, he's a scary matchup for an elimination game. Consider a few stats for the rookie right-hander, as compared to Matt Moore in 2013.
|Todd Redmond||Matt Moore|
Those would seem to indicate that Redmond is the superior pitcher. There are a few factors that should mitigate your fear, though. First off, Redmond posted those numbers over only 76.1 innings, so we're dealing with a small sample size for a starting pitcher. Secondly, he's a 28 year old rookie. Top starting pitchers don't wait that long. They don't spend five years in triple-A before being promoted midway through their sixth season at the level. The Baseball America scouting report from 2008 (the last season he was ranked as an organizational top 30 prospect [for the Braves]) sheds some light on why teams were in no rush to promote Redmond:
Redmond works off his fastball and pitches to contact while allowing his defense to do its job. He pounds the strike zone with three pitches and fine overall command.
He's a strike thrower and a finesse pitcher. He obviously has something going for him, but his 23.7% strikeout rate at the major league level is unexpected. Here's what he throws:
Don't pay a ton of attention to the MLBAM classification of Redmond's fastball as a sinker. The guys over at Brooks Baseball call the majority of those fastballs four-seamers, and label a small percentage as sinkers, and I think they're right. Redmond's heater, averaging in the low 90s, is better defined by the absence of rise than by the presence of sink (or run). Both his changeup and his horizontal slider come in around 82 mph. Overall, Redmond is a flyball pitcher.
As for approach, Redmond is primarily a fastball-slider guy. Against righties that's all he throws, and he's not shy about using his slider in fastball counts. Facing a lefty, Redmond will mix in his changeup about 10% of the time while still leaning on his slider once he gets ahead. Unsurprisingly for a pitcher of his type, Redmond appears to have a major platoon split. In 2013, he's posted a 3.02 xFIP against same-handed righties, but a 5.07 xFIP against lefties.
Expect Joe Maddon to stack the lineup with lefties and switch hitters. For my money, Yunel Escobar and Evan Longoria are the only right-handed bats that need to start. I would prefer Maddon play Wil Myers as well, but if he doesn't, I will understand. Desmond Jennings and his tight hammy can continue to rest.
Edit: Lineups have been announced, and both Wil Myers and Delmon Young are starting. Desmond Jennings is not.