NL Starting Pitchers: Carlos Zambrano, Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton

In today’s edition of NL Starting Pitchers, we look at three starters who aren’t as good as they seem to be.

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs
A polarizing figure for the last couple seasons, Zambrano looks to have established himself as part of the Cubs rotation, if only for the reason that he makes a ridiculous amount of money. A look at Zambrano’s 2011 stats may give owners confidence, but perhaps they shouldn’t. On the season, Zambrano has struck out 23 batters in a little under 26 innings of work, earning himself a K/BB of 2.30 and a GB% of 40.6%. Looking a little deeper, ten of those strikeouts came during his last start against the Padres, as did eleven of the ground balls. If we just look at the first three starts of Zambrano’s year, his K/BB is a mere 13/9. Zambrano’s velocity is down a touch, but he’s been throwing more cutters and two-seamers this year, so trading some MPH for movement could work out well in the end.

Kevin Correia, Pirates
If I would have told you Kevin Correia would have an ERA below 2.50 after four starts, you probably wouldn’t have slapped me silly, because crazy things can happen in small samples. Correia has a severely low BABIP this year, and his strikeouts are ridiculous scarce. Allowing an extreme amount of balls in play is a good way to get killed by a high BABIP, but Correia has been saved thus far, and he has three wins to prove it. Correia still isn’t worth much, as evidenced by ownership rates below 25% in both ESPN and Yahoo!. It’s good to see the general public staying away from wins and low rate stats, even if it only happens every once and awhile. If he played for a team other than the Pirates, he would be owned at a much higher rate.

Charlie Morton, Pirates
Another swashbuckler, Morton’s ERA is even more far fetched than Correia’s. Morton has actually walked twice as many batters as he’s struck out, but he’s somehow been able to get out of innings and keep runs off the board. Morton has done one good thing, though, posting a ground ball rate close to 70%. Morton’s been relying heavily on his sinker, which isn’t getting swing and misses, but is doing its job and getting grounders. In case you were even thinking about considering Morton, just stop, because he deserves and ERA closer to five.

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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

4 Responses to “NL Starting Pitchers: Carlos Zambrano, Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton”

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  1. Razor Ray says:

    I’m not sure I would totally discount Big Z’s performance so far this year. You have to take a little bit of damage as far as WHIP is concerned, but he should be a solid performer in W ERA and definitely K

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  2. smiley54663 says:

    You were dead on about Morton. I’m watching him pitch tonight and he is throwing fastball after fastball after fastball. Has any SP ever gone 100+ IP throwing a fastball 70+% of the time and still have an ERA under ~4.50?

    I would think MLB hitters expecting a low 90’s fastball can hit it at quite a good clip. They’re major league hitters!

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  3. Shoeless_Mike says:

    I think we will be surprised by Morton’s final line at year’s end. While I am not predicting anything spectacular, I love the GB% and the new mechanics he is touting. It would not shock me at all to see him post a season like Derek Lowe’s 2010 or 2007 years.

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