Closing Time: Zack Godley crashes to earth

Zack Godley is a shadow of his former self in 2018 (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Last year, Zack Godley sparked and inspired our fantasy experience. The ratios helped us to cash spots and a few pennants. A thousand puns were launched, along with new team names.

This year, he’s just another guy torching our ratios.

Godley’s crooked number tour hit San Francisco on Monday, and it was over quickly. Giants fans weren’t even freezing yet. Godley allowed five hits and seven runs over 3.2 innings, served up two homers. He walked two, struck out three. The ERA swelled to 5.12, the WHIP to 1.57.

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What’s gone wrong with Godley in 2018? To begin with, everything.

Strikeouts are down, walks have spiked significantly, homers are up. The 5.12 ERA might be a shade unlucky but not terribly so; his FIP stands at 4.87. He’s allowing more line drives, more hard contact, and more pulled contact.

Is Godley pitching hurt? His velocity is down 1.9 mph on his fastball, and his secondary pitches are also down. Godley’s curve was one of baseball’s most effective pitches in 2017; this year, it doesn’t even grade as a plus offering.

He’s having trouble commanding at-bats, too. First-strike rate has dropped, swinging-strike rate is down 2.8 percent, chase rate is a 4.7 percent giveback. All the contact rates against Godley have spiked.

Most of these stats do a wonderful job of describing why Godley is getting kicked around, but descriptive and predictive are two different things. The velocity drop makes you worry about injury. At some point you might hear common speculative theories — Godley could be tipping his pitches, or might have a mechanical flaw or two.

In a shallow 10-team mixed auction that we started up in May, I wound up with Godley — not as a proactive buy but as a reactive one. I’ve already cut him. There’s too much dang good stuff on the wire. At what point does a bad start become a bad season? Godley, sometimes you just don’t come through.

Maybe this is just a midlevel starter, struggling with his own limitations in the harsh face of stardom. Maybe the 2017 breakthrough — and heck, he went 8-9 with a 3.37 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, it’s not like he won the Cy Young Award — was Godley over his skis. Humidor Life has cushioned the blow — he has a 2.95 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in five Arizona turns. The road starts have been the horrible ones — 7.08 ERA, 1.92 WHIP, 25 walks against 33 strikeouts.

But too many indicators are pointing in the wrong direction, for me anyway. Start with the radar gun.

Godley’s scheduled to face Colorado this weekend, lots of luck with that. Then he hosts the Mets, back at home. Share your Godley puns and pains in the comments.

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