Archive for Starting Pitchers

Diamondbacks Playing Time Battles: Pitching

Unhappy about the team’s sub-.500 record in 2015, Diamondbacks General Manager Dave Stewart has resorted to signin’, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ this offseason to seemingly make a run at a playoff spot. The majority of his moves were to bolster a starting pitching staff that ranked 11th in ERA in the National League with a 4.37 mark. Of course, I’m not here to discuss Zack Greinke or Shelby Miller. Rather, let’s talk about the guys who are not a lock to be a part of the team’s rotation and back end of the bullpen.


Because I cannot type an entire article without mentioning Zack Greinke‘s 2015 performance, I will simply note this — his LOB% ranked as the fifth highest mark ever among qualified starters. That’s running our leaderboard as far back as it goes, choosing 1871, and ending up with 9,358 pitcher seasons. Do not pay top five starter prices. That is all.

Since I’m on a luck will run out campaign (wait, aren’t I always?), I might as well mention Shelby Miller and his massive SIERA-beating ways. Wait until he hits a severe hitter’s park for the first time!

Now I feel better.

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Nationals Playing Time Battles: Pitching

We’ve started our annual Depth Chart Discussions, re-branded as Playing Time Battles for 2016. You can catch up on every team we’ve covered in the Playing Time Battles Summary post or following along using the Depth Chart Discussions tag.

At this point, I think you know what you’re getting yourselves into. We’re here to talk position battles. Max Scherzer‘s battle for second best fantasy pitcher is irrelevant to us.

The Rotation

In addition to Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez are locked into starting roles. They aren’t going anywhere. Well, Strasburg and Gonzalez could be traded, but it seems a little late for the club to go that route.

Fourth on the depth chart is Doug Fister impersonator Tanner Roark. Fister, to be clear, is no longer a National (he is, in fact, a free agent). As for Roark, he’s a contact-oriented righty with plus command. In 363 career innings, he has a 3.12 ERA, 3.84 xFIP, 6.14 K/9, and 1.88 BB/9. Last season was his worst – a 4.38 ERA, 5.68 K/9, and 2.11 BB/9. He bounced between the rotation and bullpen which might explain the poor results.

Short of a terrible spring, Roark will be in the rotation. The current front runner to join him is Joe Ross. Tyson Ross‘ younger brother performed just like his sibling. He has a below average quality sinker and a plus slider. Personally, I’m very wary of Ross – I see a swing starter or setup reliever. Mike Podhorzer recently outlined most of my concerns.

Despite my worry, Ross was quite good in his major league debut. So long as he continues to produce, he’ll be a valuable member of the Nationals. In 13 starts and three relief appearances, Ross had a 3.64 ERA, 3.62 xFIP, 8.10 K/9, and 2.47 BB/9. Once he got ahead in the count, he buried hitters under an avalanche of sliders.

In the event of injuries or poor performance, the team has plenty of depth (and a pending minor league contract offer to Bronson Arroyo). Fly ball pitcher Yusmeiro Petit is the swing man. The purveyor of the Invisiball could conceivably push Roark into the bullpen under the right conditions. Because he’s 30 and signed to a one-year contract, the Nationals will undoubtedly give preference to their long term assets.

While he’s not first in line on the call sheet, Lucas Giolito is on the cusp of the majors. The Nationals top prospect looks to be an ace in the making. He’s made just eight starts in the upper minors (3.80 ERA, 8.56 K/9, 3.23 BB/9 at Double-A). He’ll need to prove himself again at Double- and Triple-A before he shoves the door wide open. Since the Nationals are contending, we’ll probably see Giolito at some point this season.

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Jerad Eickhoff, Your First Late Round Sleeper to Love This Year

He may have been far from the main piece in the Cole Hamels trade, but the Phillies may have found a diamond in the rough when they acquired Jerad Eickhoff from the Rangers last summer.
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Padres’ Playing Time Battles: Pitchers

Last week inaugurated what will likely be several weeks of depth chart discussions in the form of playing time battles. RotoGraphs staff will discuss and assess noteworthy battles for playing time and/or starting gigs for position players and, separately, pitchers. Here, specifically, this author will investigate the San Diego Padres‘ pitching situations.

#4 and #5 Starters

Behind James Shields, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, the Padres’ rotation looks feeble. At least six arms could see a handful of starts — and, to avoid burying the lede, few warrant attention in standard mixed leagues. But, alas, playing time battles are playing time battles. In order according to FanGraphs’ depth charts:

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A’s Playing Time Battles: Pitchers

Through the first half of last season, the A’s ranked 2nd in baseball in starting pitcher’s ERA. They were also tied for 1st in HR allowed per 9 and second in the AL in GB%. Offensively, the A’s were 5th in the AL in runs scored, entering the All-Star break with a +44 run differential. And a -9 win differential. So what happened?

Well, they were terrible defensively. They ranked 29th in Defensive Runs Above Average and UZR and led the AL in unearned runs. With catcher Stephen Vogt rating as 2015’s 8th worst pitch framer, it’s a wonder the rotation fared as well as it did. And the bullpen? Is a -0.1 WAR something you might be interested in? Me neither.  

Out of contention by the trade deadline, Billy Beane traded Scott Kazmir, Ryan Cook, Tyler Clippard, and Eric O’Flaherty. Then in the offseason, he exiled Jesse Chavez to Canada, Evan Scribner to the Mariners, Drew Pomeranz to the Padres, and lost Dan Otero on waivers and Edward Mujica to free agency. Caught all that? 9 pitchers, most of whom started 2015 in the East Bay, gone.

But you know the good news? The A’s never tear it down completely. In rebuilding his pitching staff, Beane assembled an intriguing posse of youngsters and Methuselastic veterans you might not recognize if you were sitting next to one on BART. Your league mates definitely won’t either.

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Royals’ Playing Time Battles: Pitching

Starting Rotation

The top of the Royals rotation is set with Ian Kennedy, Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez taking the first three spots. After those two, the rotation gets a little fuzzy for the 4th and 5th spots. Unless an injury happens to one of the first three, I think five other pitchers may cycle into these final two spots: Kris Medlen, Danny Duffy, Chris Young, Kyle Zimmer and Miguel Almonte. I listed them in the order I think they will get a chance to start. Here is my take on how I think it will shake out for each pitcher.

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Why I Both Love and Hate Joe Ross

If the Nationals don’t add another starting pitcher by the time Spring Training rolls around, then it’s likely that Joe Ross claims the fifth spot in the team’s rotation. Ross debuted last season, making 13 starts and three relief appearances, after just 24.2 innings at Triple-A. In those 13 starts, he was excellent, striking out 22.5% of the batters he faced, while walking just 6.6% of them. He also induced grounders at a strong 49.5% clip, which paired with his strikeout and walk rates, resulted in a 3.61 SIERA. The showing has unsurprisingly already led to some preseason sleeper love. As I continue to work through my Pod Projections, I have come to the realization that I both love and hate Ross, similar to how I felt about Carlos Martinez last preseason.

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The Starting Pitcher Clusterbomb

We released our composite starting pitcher rankings yesterday. Presently, I’m going to offer my thoughts about the ace-heavy draft pool. If that part doesn’t interest you, skip down to my early mock observations. That part has important strategic implications.

It turns out we all agree on one thing – Clayton Kershaw is the ace of aces. We couldn’t even agree on Mike Trout as the top outfielder. Kershaw’s ranking isn’t a surprise, but it is a testament to his dominance of the field.

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Where to Rank the Young Aces?

Let’s throw some hyped names into the equation. After each name, I listed their NESN NFBC Average Draft Position (ADP) as of 1.15.16 followed by where I have them ranked without a position adjustment according to Rotochamp composite projections (1.12.16):

Rotochamp and Steamer grounds our expectations. If you adhere to their projections/these rankings, you might not land Severino, Ross or Nola. ADP on the other hand will make you reach at times. Eno provided a KPU-BB leaderboard (K% + Pop-up% – BB%) this past Tuesday. Here is another approach to ranking starters in addition to our Pitch Repertoire Scores.

Look to their peripherals and rank them by skills. Here is one subjective approach. I z-score the following skills and weigh each one by it’s correlation to expected ERA):

  • zGB/FB+zIFFB%
  • Average z-score between Ct% and SwStr%
  • zK-BB%
  • Average z-score between Soft% and Hard%

Summing up these four z-scores, we’re left with the following leader board (50 IP Qualifier):

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Rotographs Rankings First Run – Starting Pitchers

Some of this is being repeated from the Primer piece that went up this morning. 

We’re bringing them to you earlier this year, but that also means that they’re far from set in stone so take that into consideration as you peruse them. There are still strong arms on the free agent market, let alone all the moving and shaking that happens once players start reporting to camp.

  • Outfielder (Jan. 18)
  • Starting Pitcher (Jan. 20-today)
  • Shortstop (Jan. 22)
  • First Base (Jan. 25)
  • Catcher (Jan. 26)
  • Second Base (Jan. 27)
  • Third Base (Jan. 28)
  • DH (Jan. 29)
  • Reliever (Jan. 29 courtesy of the Bullpen Report crew)

We’re using Yahoo! eligibility requirements which is 5 starts or 10 appearances. These rankings assume the standard 5×5 categories and a re-draft league.  If we forgot someone, please let us know in the comments and we’ll make sure he’s added for the updates. If you have questions for a specific ranker on something he did, let us know in the comments.

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