We’re Going Streaking: AL SP Surgers

I will never recommend chasing after a hot streak or benching a player until he “shows signs of life”. But sometimes, especially when it comes to pitchers, players do make real changes that have a positive effect on their performance. While I have no idea if these particularly pitchers have, it’s always interesting to identify who the best pitchers have been over the last 30 days from a skills perspective.

These 10 American League starting pitchers have posted the lowest SIERA marks over the last 30 days:

Name K% BB% ERA SIERA
Joe Blanton 28.5% 2.2% 3.71 2.50
Chris Sale 30.7% 5.7% 3.15 2.53
Yu Darvish 31.3% 6.6% 3.15 2.64
Rick Porcello 24.0% 4.0% 4.10 2.66
Max Scherzer 30.8% 6.0% 2.31 2.79
Felix Hernandez 23.3% 5.3% 3.15 3.01
Doug Fister 19.1% 3.7% 3.67 3.18
Dallas Keuchel 20.0% 3.9% 2.59 3.26
Ervin Santana 20.1% 5.7% 2.14 3.28
CC Sabathia 21.0% 4.9% 4.34 3.35

Surprise, surprise, Joe Blanton has actually been a damn good pitcher over these past 30 days! That’s a 39:3 K/BB ratio over that time span. Wowzers. And even though he has managed to to post a .256 BABIP and a respectable LOB%, home runs have been a problem as usual. A 22.9% mark is crazy even for him though. Blanton remains an enigma and he’s going on his fourth straight year of significant SIERA underpeformance. Amazingly, even with that .256 BABIP in the last 30 days, his season mark still stands at .355!

Chris Sale just doing his thang. And after last year’s ominous velocity trend, he’s now averaging a full mile per hour more. Too bad the White Sox offense stinks, leaving him with a sub-.500 record and causing his awesome season to fly under the radar.

Yu Darvish keeps on chugging along, though the home run ball bit him. He now has a surprising 16.5% HR/FB ratio on the season. That’s not going to last, though the .258 BABIP and 81% LOB won’t either. He leads baseball in season SIERA.

For all of Rick Porcello‘s skills improvements, his ERA doesn’t seem to want to decline. He’s either the best sneaky buy low or a tease.

Dallas Keuchel?! And here I was stacking righties against him in my daily fantasy contests. He’s an extreme ground ball pitcher and he has always exhibited excellent control. But the strikeout rate is a surprise. Keep in mind these metrics also include his Tuesday relief outing when he struck out 6 batters in just 2.2 innings. I’m extremely hesitant to recommend him in leagues, but even if his strikeout rate does decline, his other skills are good enough that maybe he’ll earn some positive value in AL-Only leagues.

Has decreased velocity led to C.C. Sabathia‘s inflated HR/FB rate? His strikeout rate is down a bit, but everything else looks good. Seems to me it’s just a bit of bad luck so far with the long ball. His velocity has also trended upward. In his first outing of the season, he averaged just 89.7 mph with his fastball. He has now averaged over 91 mph in his last two outings, which is still down slightly from last year, but no longer a degree to panic about. There are a lot of interesting buy low names from the preseason top pitchers group and I think Sabathia is a good one.




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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.

12 Responses to “We’re Going Streaking: AL SP Surgers”

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  1. Feeding the Abscess says:

    Sale averaged 95.6 MPH in his last start, and a little over 94 two starts before that one. Perhaps not surprisingly, he struck out 27 batters in those two starts.

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    • Huisj says:

      Sale seems to pitch best when he gives up a dumb run or two early or when the defense craps the bed behind him (as is frequently the case this year). It’s like he gets angry and just starts throwing like a crazy man and then whips out sliders that look like they’re headed toward Midway but then still end up in the catcher’s mitt.

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  2. Pops says:

    Had to bail on Porcello. I wanted to believe in his resurgence, but he let me down. I just can’t trust him on a start by start basis. Maybe he pitches well for the rest of the year… but the possibility for an implosion is always there.

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  3. Fool Me Once... says:

    I dropped and added Porcello across two different leagues in the past two weeks. I got burned like the devil at the beach both damn times. I want to believe the underlying numbers, I really do. But no more. I remember the last time I rode down this road, when it was called “Dave Bush Drive.” So many potholes, so many alternate routes.

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    • Wobatus says:

      This is an issue when a pitcher has a breakthrough. After that run, every blow-up gets taken as a sign of reversion. well, now he’s had 2 in a row. But that happens to even good pitchers. King Felix gave up 5 earned runs 2 games in a row in May, and gave up 6 his next to last start, and gave up 4 or more in 4 games out of 7. Then last night he twirls a gem.

      Admittedly Porcello hasn’t earned a leash yet, but just having 2 bad starts in a row doesn’t wipe out the peripheral improvements over the last month (even with those 2 starts).

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      • Well stated and I completely agree. It’s just hard to know whether the peripheral improvements are sustainable.

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      • Wobatus says:

        Yeah, that’s true. For me he’s more a 6th starter type in a 12 man mixed league. In fact I have 4 of the guys on this list: Scherzer, Hernandez, Santana and Porcello. Just picked Porcello up. But I stuck with Ervin Santana over Porcello for his last start. But say Porcello is facing the Twins in Minnesota I’d call him up.

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      • buddyglass says:

        Not sure if Porcello is especially notable in this regard, but his SIERA and xFIP have both been significantly lower than his ERA in most of his major league seasons. Maybe there’s something about his game that causes him to underperform (in terms of ERA) what you’d expect based on SIERA & xFIP.

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      • theobvious says:

        Yeah it’s called the Detroit infield “Defence”

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  4. John M says:

    Keuchel has been a pleasant surprise for me while I wait for David Price to return. And his low ownership rate means he can probably be hidden on the waiver wire when Price does reappear.

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  5. shibboleth says:

    I’ll roll the dice on Blanton as part of my “i just discovered Siera” experiment. They say it’s more accurate than xFIP, so I’ll take it for a spin.

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    • It is, but Blanton has consistently underperformed his SIERA, every season his 2009. So either Blanton is missing something that SIERA isn’t picking up or he’s just been the unluckiest pitcher in baseball.

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