On the first day of November the Astros claimed LHP Darin Downs off waivers from the Detroit Tigers. If you are like me, you’re probably asking yourself: Who the heck is Darin Downs? Yeah, I had never heard of the guy either. But, apparently the Astros are pretty high on him.
Having never actually seen Downs pitch, I’m leaning pretty heavily on Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference for this issue of player profile. Drafted out of high school in 2003, Downs finally made it to the big leagues nine years later. The career minor leaguer made 47 relief appearances for the Tigers in between trips to AAA over the last two seasons.
Even though their bullpen was a definite weakness, Detroit didn’t think enough of Downs to put him on their playoff roster. Then, they ended up waiving him a month later. Losing a job to the likes of Phil Coke isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
Although his splits show a dominance against left-handed hitters and struggles against righties, Downs hasn’t been used strictly as a lefty specialist. He was originally a starter in the minors and many of his appearances with Detroit were of the multiple inning variety. Perhaps the Astros view him as a LOOGY. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Overall, Downs has a 1.32 WHIP and a 4.34 ERA in 56 big league innings. His 9.2 K/9 IP and 3.2 BB/9 IP are decent — and fairly similar to his minor league numbers. Fangraphs tells us that he has a 90 m.p.h. fastball, a plus slider, a curveball, and a changeup. When Spring Training comes around a spot in the Astros bullpen will be his to lose. How Downs fares may very well depend on who the Astros bring in to compete with him for those open spots in the ‘pen.