Right or wrong, significantly greater weight is given to how a player finishes a season than how he began it. If a hitter endures a second half swoon, he’ll be considered a prime bust candidate the following year, regardless of what he did during the first several months. The same goes for pitchers. Let’s discuss a trio of those second half starting pitcher busts in the American League.
Stats in the player headers are from the second half
Jered Weaver | 4.41 ERA | 4.76 SIERA
Weaver is an annual ERA estimator beater. His extreme fly ball ways and strong pop-up rates lead to low BABIP marks, which enable him to strand a high clip of runners. For whatever reason, the estimators continue to get fooled, even though SIERA accounts for batted ball distribution. Anyhow, we’ve been wondering when the magic will come to an end.
So far in the second half, he’s been striking out hitters at a slightly lower clip while walking more of them. But all of a sudden his BABIP has jumped above the .300 mark to .312. He has only posted a season BABIP above .300 once, and a mark above .278 just twice in his entire career. Peaking in at his batted ball distribution, he has allowed an even higher rate of fly balls than usual, but also a ton of pop-ups. Those two should suppress hits on balls in play, but they are somewhat offset by a 23% line drive rate.
His overall season SIERA is at its highest mark since 2007. It’s clear his skills are beginning to slip a touch and we can’t predict when his BABIP and HR/FB suppression skills will start to erode. It makes him riskier than ever over the rest of the season.
Scott Kazmir | 5.09 ERA | 4.52 SIERA
Remember when I recommended selling Kazmir after I sold him myself in my local league? He hasn’t exactly imploded if you go back to when I told you to sell. Since his start on May 28, he has posted a still strong 3.39 ERA. But he was still due for continued regression and that has come in the second half.
Furthermore, his skills have taken a nosedive. His second half strikeout rate is a sad 13.9% as his SwStk% has fallen to just 6.8%. Although his fastball velocity has been fine, it’s still a bit scary to see this decline from a pitcher who has battled various injuries in the past. I’m not sure what to make of his sudden inability to make hitters swing and miss. His control has remained good though, if it’s any consolation.
Drew Hutchison | 6.13 ERA | 3.98 SIERA
Hutchison was quite the story during spring training as he was returning from Tommy John surgery and was seemingly throwing his fastball with more oomph. His velocity is indeed up from 2012, but probably not as much as it seemed it would be based on the spring excitement. That said, he’s been pretty good from a skills perspective and essentially exactly what those expecting a breakout could have hoped for. Unfortunately, a complete inability to strand runners in the second half has ruined his results. Despite solid skills, a 62% LOB% has led to four games in which he allowed at least six runs in this half.
He has flashed a pretty solid three pitch mix though that induces whiffs. I think he’ll be better in September, though it will be interesting to see if his innings are capped at all. Depending on how he finishes, he could be undervalued next year.
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