Forget the Doug Fister trade for a moment. I know, it's difficult, especially with Ian Krol staring at you from the picture above. But look at Krol's numbers without the bias that comes with knowing how he arrived in Detroit.
They still stink.
However, there's a reason for that. The story of Krol's season helps reveal that he was a bit better than we thought.
Krol had a decent debut season for the Washington Nationals in 2013, allowing a 3.95 ERA and 4.07 xFIP in 27 1/3 innings. He posted a solid 2.75 strikeout-to-walk ratio and stranded 82.8 percent of the baserunners he allowed. Left-handed batters hit just .220/.273/.320 against him. Other than some home run troubles, it was a solid rookie year for the former seventh round pick.
Krol got off to a hot start in 2014, but like the club itself, the success didn't last. He allowed a 1.98 ERA during the team's 27-12 start and had a 2.05 ERA as late as June 9th. He did not walk a batter until May 19th. Then, the wheels came off. Krol allowed seven runs in his next four outings -- yet converted his only save opportunity -- which raised his ERA all the way up to 4.32. He was then placed on the disabled list due to some inflammation in his left shoulder, but the 16 day DL stint did not improve his performance. Krol allowed a 7.04 ERA with eight strikeouts and five walks in his last 7 2/3 MLB innings.
Left-handed batters fared much better against Krol this year, hitting .261/.329/.435 in 76 plate appearances. However, Krol's main troubles came against right-handers, who had a 1.048 OPS. Krol's strikeout-to-walk ratio and strand rate both dipped as well, but a 4.08 xFIP indicates that he was a bit unlucky with home runs again.
When I was in Denmark, our tour guide commented on the winter weather in Copenhagen. "It's bad," he said. "It's not as bad as you think, but it's really bad." Krol's season was the same way. He didn't make any of the strides that we expected from a young pitcher entering his second MLB season, and he struggled to regain his form after coming off the disabled list. Did his injury continue to bother him? That's tough to say. Fans seem to have forgotten, but Krol was very good for the first two and a half months of the season. Getting a full season of that Krol in 2015 would be a big boost to the bullpen going forward.