Logan Gilbert quietly had a pretty darn good season in 2022. I don't know if it was being a bit overshadowed by the acquisition of Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray coming to town, and the later emergence of George Kirby, but plenty of people view Logan Gilbert as the 3rd or 4th best pitcher on the Mariners.
Are they right?
It's tough to tell. Gilbert, on the surface, pitched well in 2022. He went 13-6 with a 3.20 ERA, and had just 2.4 BB/9 with a K rate of 8.4/9. More importantly, his HR/9 was just 0.9, which is a great number to have. He also finished with a very respectable 3.2 WAR.
However, his underlying stats don't look as great. Yes, his FIP was 3.46 which is still strong. When you go and check into his % stats on Baseball Savant, things start to look worrisome. Players don't chase his pitches, and they hit him hard and often. He's in the 3rd percentile in exit velo, 5th in hard hit, and 12th in chase rate. Those are all Ice Cold Dark Blue numbers. You want your numbers up in the red, and the higher the percentile numbers, the better.
That average exit velo was actually the worst of all 45 qualified pitchers at 91.0 mph. It's not good. His barrel rate is down at 21st though, which is a lot better.
Is it something that we need to worry about? Or is this a young pitcher who makes the occasional really bad mistake, but otherwise is a solid pitcher?
I think it's the latter. Gilbert had a good year, and was constantly getting deep into games. Of his 32 starts, he threw less than five innings just once. He went 6 IP 18 different times with 16 of them being Quality Starts. Oddly enough, his numbers are skewed even a bit more because of back-to-back starts where he got shelled by the Yankees. Take those two starts out, and you are looking at a 2.71 ERA through 176.1 IP.
Here's the thing. I think we see a little step back from Gilbert this year. Nothing major, but I don't expect another step forward yet. Not until 2024. Something along these lines.
I think it's the opposite of last year, in a sense. Gilbert looks worse on the surface but pitches a lot better in his underlying statistics. There is a short window in the summer where the long ball punishes him, but his average exit velo and hard hit rate against both get a lot better. It leads into a great 2024 for Gilbert that sets off a strong run with Gilbert as a great #2 option for the Mariners... even if he's still just the 3rd or 4th best pitcher on what might be an all-time loaded rotation for the Mariners.