I never understood the John Gast love in 2011. It certainly couldn’t have been based on his performance. Last year, Gast struggled to maintain a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. He didn’t have severe control problems; the lefthander simply lacked the ability to put away batters and strike guys out.
Gast split time between Palm Beach and Springfield in 2011 pitching around 80 innings in 13 games at each location. In both locales, he had a FIP that was above league average. It wasn’t that Gast was a bad pitcher but he certainly wasn’t a premier prospect in a system flush with impressive arms.
Instead, much of the allure of Gast stemmed from his pickoff move. At one point in 2011′s Spring Training, Gast had picked off four baserunners in 5.1 innings. It was fun to watch and it was clear that he had a better move to first than many of the pitchers in the big leagues. His pickoff moves were good enough for Dave Duncan to suggest that Jaime Garcia try and learn the art of the pickoff from Gast.
And while that is heady stuff, a good pickoff move does not erase a mediocre strikeout rate. It does not erase an inability to put batters away.