Who Is Mychal Givens?
Hailing from Tampa, FL, the 6’ 210 lb, 29 year old righty anchors a mediocre Orioles bullpen. Givens has an interesting history, drafted 54th overall in the 2009 draft as a Shortstop eventually leading to him playing in the Australian baseball league. In 2013, the Orioles approached him about a transition to the mound, which started off rocky but culminated in a 1.60 ERA across 39 IP in AA in 2015. His turn around was significant, and he made a dominant entrance into the MLB - but before we get into that, here was John Sickels commentary on him:
“Drafted as a shortstop (second round) back in 2009, Givens converted to pitching in 2013 and has performed very well. His control took a dramatic step forward last year and he ended up pitching 30 very effective innings out of the major league pen as a result, though he is still a technical rookie entering 2016. Givens has a nasty power sinker at 92-95 MPH thrown with a low-angle delivery. He’s developed a slider and change-up, both average to plus, and has demonstrated excellent mound presence and unusually good pitching instincts given his lack of experience. Grading relievers is always problematic but I really like what Givens has done and it would not surprise me at all to see him close games eventually. Grade B-.”
In 2015, Givens bounced a few times between the minors and the majors but delivered big time. His 2-0, 1.80 ERA, 2.38 xFIP with 11.40 K/9 and 1.80 BB/9 left very little to be desired across his 30 IP.
His 3.26 SIERA was a better predictor, as he’s been unable to match the results of his first taste of the majors since, but has been a fairly consistent bullpen piece since then. His career shows a 19-4, 16 SV, 3.28 ERA, 3.72 xFIP, 3.29 SIERA and a 10.70 K/9 to 3.44 BB/9, pitching 70+ IP every year after his rookie year.
If you were to look at just his 2019 stats, his 1-4 record and 4.50 ERA leaves a lot to be desired. With that said, he’s supported by much stronger peripherals of 3.59 xFIP, 3.26 SIERA and a dominant 12.75 K/9. His xwOBA is .023 lower than his wOBA (.320), and his HR/FB is at a ridiculously fluky 24.2%. A closer look shows a Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde of a 5.66 ERA at Camden Yards vs a 2.93 ERA everywhere else (largely due to the home run rate at Camden Yards). Interestingly, his FIP and xFIP follow suit (2.95 away vs 5.97 home FIP and 2.41 away vs 4.48 home xFIP).
Givens averages a 95.1 MPH fastball, which comes in at the 82nd percentile of all pitchers with his spin coming in at an above average but not elite 77th percentile. His Slider ranks 201st out of 566.
Overall, Givens fits the mold for Strom Magic, although he is not truly a standout candidate based on spin rates.
I was curious to see, with Elias heading the Orioles if they would have shifted to a more Astros-centric approach in regards to their pitchers but it appears that Givens has still primarily been throwing his fastball middle down.
Givens is a solid club controlled asset that has shown periods of dominance with elite strike out rates. He is having a down year from a traditional statistic standpoint, although the rising BB/9 is worrisome. You could make an argument that you’d be “buying low” on Givens.
From a pure cost perspective, Givens received $2.15 Million this year and has 2 years of club control remaining. The fact that he’s been receiving closes will increase his price in arbitration going forward, which does impact his overall trade value.
For those who believe in such things, there’s a very small sample size argument to be made in regards to Givens’ “clutch” gene. Givens has closing experience and in the playoffs has a 0.00 ERA with 11.6 K/9 (albeit across 2.1 IP). Normally, I wouldn’t mention this but there some people who put a LOT more weight on this than I do.
His arsenal could work well under Strom’s tutelage but he’s not a player I’d see as an ideal target from that front. Of all the GM’s, Elias is one of the few that I don’t think will be an easy match for Luhnow, especially knowing and helping create some of the “inside secrets” of the nerd cave. With that said, Elias does appear to be in an open-shop sell all type of mode and others may not place the same value on Givens with his down year.
Givens isn’t on the top of my list for potential acquisitions but he is a solid above average reliever with potential of greatness.
Would you want the Astros to trade for Givens?
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