SP Skills Decliners

Last week, I decided to compare the SIERA marks of starting pitchers over the last 30 days with what they posted in April. The idea here was to identify potential RoS breakout candidates whose ERAs still might be hiding major improvement over the last month. Today I will look at the opposite side of the coin, those starters whose skills have declined over the last month. These pitchers might still have good ERAs and may still command a nice return in trade.

Name Team Last 30 Days K/9 Last 30 Days BB/9 Last 30 Days ERA Last 30 Days SIERA April SIERA Last 30 – April SIERA
Kyle Drabek Blue Jays 3.2 6.8 7.20 6.51 4.10 2.41
Mike Minor Braves 5.8 4.6 3.86 5.26 3.31 1.95
Edwin Jackson Nationals 5.9 3.2 2.21 4.39 2.86 1.53
Anthony Bass Padres 7.0 4.7 7.79 4.61 3.11 1.50
Edinson Volquez Padres 6.4 6.1 4.30 5.34 4.08 1.26

Well, so much for Kyle Drabek, who now may undergo Tommy John surgery. I wonder how long his elbow has bothered him and how much it could be blamed for his control issues.

Only a couple of weeks ago, Mike Minor‘s SIERA made him look like the unluckiest pitcher in baseball. While his ERA has dropped recently, it has come along with a rising SIERA, which is not want you want to see. He has managed to allow just two runs over his last two starts, but that came with a weak 8/6 K/BB ratio, so it was really just some good luck for a change offsetting all the bad he had experienced. While his ERA will undoubtedly continue to drop from above 6.00, his chances of delivering any mixed league value this year are getting slimmer and slimmer.

Edwin Jackson really hasn’t pitched all that differently since 2010, yet his ERA has come down significantly each season. Given his checkered history, it is doubtful you could successfully sell high on him given his low 3.00 ERA. His SwStk% and F-Strike% are both at career bests, so he would seem to have some additional strikeout rate upside, while the control improvement appears to be for real. We don’t have monthly splits for those metrics unfortunately, but it does appear both of them were down a bit over the last 30 days compared with April. I would view him exactly the same way you did before the season.

I always become suspicious when a pitcher posts peripherals much better than they did in the minors, and this was the case for Anthony Bass in April. Now they look normal and sustainable after an expected regression over the last month, but the luck Gods overcompensated and now his ERA sits a full run above his season SIERA. As evidenced by his 2-7 record, the measly Padres offense won’t do him any favors in the run support column. But he does have a solid strikeout rate and PETCO Park should help lead to some better luck. He’s best left to NL-Only or very deep mixed leagues and should generate some value in those the rest of the way.

Do I really have to talk about Edinson Volquez again? Is it just me, or does it seem like when he’s on the mound and walking hitters as usual that he’s smiling/laughing and just think it’s all a fun game? It’s as if he knows his control is terrible and it’s just so darn hilarious how he just has no command to speak of. You can get away with walking five batters per nine when you’re also striking out nearly a batter per inning, but when that bad control becomes even worse and suddenly your strikeout rate falls to just above 6.0, suddenly you’re not even a Major League quality pitcher. As expected, PETCO Park has helped so far, as he has posted a 3.17 ERA at home, but a poor 4.46 mark away. I stubbornly continue to hold onto him in a number of leagues, but I’m losing my patience.

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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: 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.

7 Responses to “SP Skills Decliners”

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  1. yes. says:

    more of this please!

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  2. lester bangs says:

    Another interesting piece and this stuff is always worth discussing, though it will be hard to get much in trade for any of these guys. Maybe Jackson, though he’s leveled off in his career and it’s almost like everyone in your league has been burned by him once. Minor’s front-door numbers will scare everyone away. Drabek is obviously broken. Bass doesn’t have enough of a pedigree.

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  3. lester bangs says:

    What Minor really needs to be sold – maybe Volquez too – is some stat-pretty performance to sell, big game score, PQ5, etc. Maybe a double-digit effort will come out and it will give us a window.

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    • Stan Gable says:

      I can’t imagine either are rostered in anything other than a transient manner in all but very deep &/or league specific formats.

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    • Unfortunately, Minor faces the Yankees and Red Sox over his next two starts, so his short-term outlook is quite unfavorable. Of course, I’m suddenly desperate for pitching depth in LABR after injuries and trades, and so I’m bidding on him anyway this week. If I win, I’ll be hiding my eyes for his starts.

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  4. Paul says:

    Again looking at pitch values, they’ve all earned where SIERA has them now. Unless Jackson was just outperforming his true talent, he should be slightly better but in the range. I think it’s right not to expect that he’s a different guy now. Same with all the others, except to note that a few teams’ pitchers have dramatically outperformed SIERA over time. They are the Giants and A’s by very wide margins, and Padres by a significant margin as well. Volquez’s sinker in that park could lead him to outperform, and Bass’s dominant cutter/slider combo could also look a lot better in that park than if he was in smaller park in the BBL.

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  5. Dingbat says:

    It’s strange that we can’t see plate discipline numbers by month, because the new game logs do have these figures on a game-by-game basis. Taking an unweighted average of Edwin Jackson’s last 5 starts gives you a 59.95% F-Strike% and a 9.98% SwStr%, vs. his season averages of 63.3% and 11.5%. His SwStr% is still above league average (8.8%) for the past month, but his F-Strike% is not (59.7%). Both, however, are still a bit better than his career averages (56.1% and 9.2%).

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