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Gavin Floyd, Really?

Gavin Floyd once again flirted with a no-hitter Tuesday night to help the White Sox snap a 6-game losing streak. It was the third time this season that he's taken a no-hitter past the 5th inning.

How's he doing it?

Unfortunately, I have no idea. Before spring training, many of us were quite high on Floyd's future, based largely on the strength of his final 6 starts last season. During those 6 starts, Gavin laid a blue print for how he could become an effective major league pitcher. He fell behind John Danks, however, after a series of mediocre spring training performances. Here's what I had to say about Floyd in my season preview for The Hardball Times.

The final spot in the rotation will be filled by Floyd, about whom I could spout the same trivial anecdotes of increased confidence or new approaches, but my heart wouldn’t be in it. Floyd is what he is, a failed prospect who gives up far too many home runs to succeed in homer-friendly US Cellular Field. Gavin will have to succeed by keeping his walk total low, and keeping his strikeout total up. He’ll never be the pitcher the Phillies once thought he would be, but he could turn into a serviceable control-type back-end starter. His last six starts last season have given the Sox some (misplaced?) hope.

As you sit in front of your computer today, Floyd isn't exactly striking batters out (4.3 K/9) and is walking too many men (4.1 BB/9). He's been successful by keeping the ball in the park (.9 HR/9) and getting extraordinarily lucky on balls in play (.147 BABIP) or extraordinarily good defense behind him (.860 DER), depending on your view.

Rotoworld pointed out, based on the above numbers, that now would be a good time to sell on Gavin Floyd. The Sox aren't playing fantasy baseball, however. This is the big leagues. You can't just trade a valuable young player because he has overachieved in the early season.

What can we expect for the rest of the season?

This is where things get tricky. I'd like to draw the comparison to '05 Jon Garland, who took a big step forward based in large part to a great first 8 starts. But Garland had better peripherals and a longer history of at least being average on his side. Floyd has never had any sustained success at the big league level.

At the time, I argued that Garland had reached a new level. I'm not so sure I can say the same of Floyd. So I'd like to point to our community projection for Floyd. My opinion of Floyd hasn't changed much from when we conducted this projection, I suspect most of yours haven't either. So let's see what happens when we simply add the projection, which was hedged by a few people projecting Gavin to flame out quickly, to Gavin's current line.

2008 - Gavin Floyd 3-1 6 6 39.2 20 14 11 4 18 19 2.50 .96
Community Projection - 23 23 149.7 161 - 83* 23 51 123 4.98 1.35
Revised - 29 29 189 181 - 94 27 69 142 4.48 1.32

That's essentially the line which we came to expect from Jon Garland. He takes a little different route to get there, but the 4.48 ERA, which is above average given the run environment of USCF, the WHIP, the HR rate, are all quite similar to typical Garland.

I think most of us will take that.

* * * * *

Floyd wasn't the only young hurler in the White Sox organization who flirted with a no-hitter Tuesday. The Sox top 2007 draft pick, Aaron Poreda, took a no-hitter into the 6th inning, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out seven in 7 innings pitched.