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Preston Guilmet: Interesting pitcher, Matt Silverman's inside joke

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It's tough to replace Drew Smyly's quality, but Matt Silverman found a way to replace his weirdness.

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Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Rays moved pitcher Drew Smyly and his torn labrum to the 60-day disabled list, making room on the 40-man roster. Matt Silverman filled that room by claiming pitcher Preston Guilmet, who had been designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Guilmet will make his way to the minors in the Rays system, a place he's dominated throughout his entire career, but should also be able to join the revolving door at the back of the Rays bullpen in the near future.

He did pitch well in just over ten innings of major-league work last season, at least as far as the peripherals are concerned, striking out 27% of the batters he faced while walking only 5%, but was done in by some poor sequencing and by two home runs on ten fly balls.

But I'm not here to talk about Guilmet the pitcher, who I find perfectly intriguing, and hope to see on the Durham shuttle soon. I'm here to discuss Guilmet the joke, because Matt Silverman is funny.

First off, let's consider Drew Smyly, the man shuffled to bring Guilmet onto the 40-man roster. When he first came over in the David Price trade, I was struck by how odd his stuff was. Here's the graph I used to show it.

The takeaways were that Smyly threw a fastball with a ton of rise (but almost no run to it), a cutter that broke more vertically than horizontally, and a curve that was on an identical plane to his fastball and that actually broke the wrong direction for a pitcher of his handedness.

That's really weird. I had never seen a pitcher who worked like that before.

Until now.

Enter Preston Guilmet:

Okay, look at that graph and tell me what hand he's throwing with.

Ignore the things labeled as cutters. They're just on the spectrum of his fastball. The fastball averages around 89 mph, and the other pitch (whatever it is—people seem to be saying it's a splitter) averages 83 mph. That velocity makes sense for a splitter or a slider, but not much else about this makes sense.

Guilmet is a righty, but right-handed fastballs are supposed to move armside (toward the left of this graph). And while right-handed splitters get most of their action as vertical drop, they usually move some armside a bit as well. If it were a slider it should be moving gloveside. Instead, both the fastball and the splitter/slider are perfectly straight.

Basically, Guilmet is Smyly-lite, except a right handed reliever with minimal major league success, instead of a left handed starter with significant major league success. He's Bizarro to Smyly's Superman.

I see what you did there, Matt Silverman, and while I'd rather have the original, I like it.