SIERA Overperformers: Starting Pitcher Regressers

Yesterday, I shared which starting pitchers have suffered from the most rotten luck so far this season by comparing their ERAs to their SIERA marks. Naturally, today it’s time to look at the opposite side of the coin — those whose ERAs are not supporting by their underlying peripherals and have significantly higher SIERA marks. Let’s take a gander.

Name K% BB% BABIP LOB% HR/FB ERA SIERA Diff
Tom Koehler 16.2% 10.5% 0.213 85.9% 7.0% 2.25 4.65 -2.40
Mark Buehrle 14.3% 7.4% 0.293 80.4% 1.8% 2.11 4.44 -2.33
Shelby Miller 18.2% 13.2% 0.255 90.9% 15.4% 2.79 4.84 -2.05
Jeff Samardzija 20.7% 7.7% 0.273 80.4% 4.2% 1.62 3.61 -1.99
Alfredo Simon 14.6% 6.3% 0.216 88.7% 12.5% 2.45 4.35 -1.90
Julio Teheran 19.4% 6.8% 0.211 84.0% 11.3% 2.20 3.93 -1.73
Dillon Gee 15.6% 7.1% 0.226 84.7% 9.5% 2.73 4.41 -1.68
Johnny Cueto 28.8% 6.8% 0.160 99.5% 13.0% 1.25 2.70 -1.45
Wily Peralta 18.1% 4.6% 0.263 83.0% 13.3% 2.05 3.50 -1.45
Sonny Gray 21.3% 8.6% 0.261 83.9% 9.5% 2.10 3.51 -1.41
Adam Wainwright 22.6% 6.1% 0.254 81.6% 5.4% 2.11 3.37 -1.26
Justin Verlander 18.4% 9.4% 0.295 71.2% 2.7% 3.15 4.33 -1.18

I highly doubt anyone will be duped into buying Tom Koehler, but in my shallow 12-team mixed league, he’s been on a team and active for a couple of weeks now. The funny thing is that this is the exact same pitcher that was terrible last year. Actually, he may just be a bit worse — his SIERA is actually higher and sits at an ugly 4.65. He has benefited from the holy trinity of luck and there’s zero chance this continues. He’ll be the most dropped pitcher in CBS leagues soon.

We have enough of a history to know what Mark Buehrle is. His fantastic early season results are entirely the result of just one homer allowed over nine starts. That has led to a high LOB%. Again, I highly doubt anyone is actually buying the veteran, but if you’re an owner, beware that regression often comes quick. Don’t be surprised if one of those three inning, three homer, eight runs allowed affairs occurs. The luck dragons sometimes tend to even things out in a hurry.

Welcome to your first strong sell high candidate — Shelby Miller. If you haven’t glanced at the peripherals and simply looked at his ERA, you’d think this was a young budding star taking another step forward. Instead, we find red flags galore. His SwStk% has dropped to below the league average and his overall strike percentage has fallen precipitously. His velocity has been fine, but rather than continue to mix in more of his secondary pitches, he’s throwing his fastball even more this year. Every one of his pitches sports a SwStk% below 10%. That’s not good. I’m not sure if there’s any more of an explanation than the fact that you can’t throw your fastball 75% of the time and expect long-term success.

Poor Jeff Samardzija. He’s this year’s exhibit #1 for why W-L record is a silly way to evaluate a pitcher. He has received the second lowest run support in baseball with just two runs a game.

Alfredo Simon, really? If you blindly picked him up, run before the clock strikes midnight.

Julio Teheran is making me look stupid for being bearish on him this preseason. Or is he? So far, I would actually take this as a win, as his peripherals have declined, but another round of superb fortune is making him look like one of the best young pitchers in baseball. The Braves do sport the third highest UZR/150 in baseball, suggesting that Teheran may very well manage to outperform his SIERA. But certainly not anywhere near to this degree.

Johnny Cueto, wow. Obviously no one has true sub-2.00 ERA skills. His 2.70 SIERA tells us that although he hasn’t pitched like the best pitcher in the history of the world, he’s still been freaking awesome. The injury risk is the only reason to sell here.

For a guy that averages 95 mph with his fastball, you would expect a better strikeout rate than what Wily Peralta has been able to muster. But, his control improvement represents real progress and it’s backed by a jump in strike percentage. His perceived value likely still isn’t all that high, so while he’ll obviously see his ERA rise, he’s probably a hold.

Because of the electric debut last year and all the preseason hype he has received, Sonny Gray‘s perceive value is likely sky high at the moment. Even though his peripherals have predictably taken a hit, his overall skill set is fantastic. Because you may very well get quite the bounty for his services, it’s probably worth shopping him around for a top hitter. But I wouldn’t argue if you decided to hold.

I purposely decided to end this list with Justin Verlander to point out what most probably hadn’t realized. His skills have deteriorated to the point that his SIERA has climbed above 4.00 for the first time since 2008. And his strikeout rate hasn’t slipped below 20% since that year either. His walk rate is on a three year uptrend as well. With his fastball velocity down another notch, you have to wonder when his surface results begin to catch up with the decline in his stuff. Only two homers allowed over nine starts have deceived us into thinking this is just another strong Verlander campaign, but don’t be fooled. There are some real concerns here.



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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.


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Mr baseball
Guest
Mr baseball

I actually think Verlander has learned how to pitch to the situation. Ease off at times and step up effort in others. These aren’t robots here, but highly skilled athletes.

frivoflava29
Member
frivoflava29

Does “pitching to the situation” also include walking more batters and striking out less? Because that’s what he’s doing.

Verlander has always been known to lay off his fastball in particular as needed — to a degree. But, that doesn’t explain any of his results thus far, and he’s still a prime candidate for regression. Just wait until he gives up four homers in consecutive games and tell me how much of a robot the dude is.

Ryan Brock
Member
Member

I’m wondering the same thing about Verlander. Watching him pitch, it seems like he’s figured out more of the “skill” of inducing weak contact since he can’t blow people away anymore. We see pitchers that have different levels of susceptibility to the longball all the time, so what’s to say that isn’t a skill that can be developed?

OBlock
Guest
OBlock

I can buy that he could develop that type of skill, but even if you believe that you’d have to accept that his command has declined as has his ability to miss bats. That’s not a good thing even if he has some type of wizard over weak contact.

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