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Daily Notes: Most Improved Pitchers So Far, Per Steamer

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. Most Improved Pitchers So Far, Per Steamer
2. Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Most Improved Pitchers So Far, Per Steamer
In May, the author examined those hitters and pitchers whose projections had most improved, up till that point, according to the Steamer and ZiPS systems. This week, in the Notes, we’re revisiting that effort.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we looked at the most improved hitters according to Steamer and ZiPS, respectively. Below are the most improved pitchers according to Steamer — where “most improved” is defined as “greatest decrease in projected ERA.”

Note: pitchers who (a) are projected to make starts in fewer than 50% of their remaining appearances or (b) are absent currently from a major-league roster have been omitted from consideration.

5. John Lackey, RHP, Boston
Steamer (Pre): 143.0 IP, 5.89 K/9, 2.98 BB/9, 0.98 HR/9, 4.42 ERA
Steamer (RoS): 43.0 IP, 7.47 K/9, 2.55 BB/9, 0.85 HR/9, 3.77 ERA
Notes: Lackey’s present strikeout rate of 22.2% is the highest such figure he’s recorded since 2005, when he posted a 22.3% mark. His current 81 xFIP- would be the lowest of his career by that measure.

4. Taylor Jordan, RHP, Washington
Steamer (Pre): 30.0 IP, 4.74 K/9, 3.02 BB/9, 0.99 HR/9, 4.81 ERA
Steamer (RoS): 15.0 IP, 5.96 K/9, 2.48 BB/9, 0.74 HR/9, 4.09 ERA
Notes: Jordan is one of three pitchers on this list — along with Lackey (above) and Salazar (below) — whose 2013 season represents a return from Tommy John surgery. A rather hard thrower, Jordan has used his arm speed thus far to induce more ground balls, proportionately, than strikeouts.

3. Matt Harvey, RHP, New York NL
Steamer (Pre): 147.0 IP, 9.03 K/9, 3.99 BB/9, 0.88 HR/9, 3.91 ERA
Steamer (RoS): 42.0 IP, 9.86 K/9, 2.95 BB/9, 0.75 HR/9, 3.14 ERA
Notes: Presently the WAR leader among all pitchers, the 24-year-old Harvey had only made four major-league starts by this same date last season. While his strikeout rate is precisely the same this season as last (28.6%), both his walk rate (10.6% to 4.9%) and ground-ball rate (38.1% to 48.0%) have improved over last year’s marks.

2. Scott Kazmir, LHP, Cleveland
Steamer (Pre): 89.0 IP, 5.94 K/9, 4.32 BB/9, 1.19 HR/9, 5.20 ERA
Steamer (RoS): 24.0 IP, 7.98 K/9, 3.57 BB/9, 0.99 HR/9, 4.18 ERA
Notes: The Indians signed Kazmir, one of two Clevelanders on this list, this past winter after the left-hander showed a dramatic increase in velocity. PITCHf/x bears this out: Kazmir’s fastball has an average velocity of 91.8 mph — this, after failing to top 87 mph in 2011.

1. Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland
Steamer (Pre): 50.0 IP, 5.23 K/9, 3.63 BB/9, 1.11 HR/9, 5.11 ERA
Steamer (RoS): 36.0 IP, 9.56 K/9, 3.38 BB/9, 0.88 HR/9, 3.48 ERA
Notes: Salazar’s return from Tommy John surgery has been of the “rousing success” variety. Among the best pitchers this season at both Double- and Triple-A, Salazar has now recorded a 22:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 64 xFIP- through three starts and 17.2 innings in the majors.

Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
Cincinnati at Milwaukee | 20:10 ET
Tony Cingrani (87.2 IP, 92 xFIP-, 1.4 WAR) faces Kyle Lohse (146.1 IP, 105 xFIP-, 1.3 WAR). Our Eno Sarris discussed with the latter his repertoire, and its evolution, in a piece that appeared in these electronic pages yesterday. Of note: Lohse’s comments about how he uses the slider to left-handed batters, and the importance of the curveball as a first-pitch strike.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Milwaukee Radio.

Today’s Complete Schedule
Here’s the complete schedule for all of today’s games, with our very proprietary watchability (NERD) scores for each one. Pitching probables and game times aggregated from MLB.com and RotoWire. The average NERD Game Score for today is 5.1.

Note: the following table is entirely sortable.

Away   SP Tm. Gm. Tm. SP   Home Time
C.J. Wilson LAA 5 7 5 2 5 NYA Phil Hughes 13:05
A.J. Burnett PIT 8 7 7 3 6 STL Lance Lynn 13:45
Erik Bedard HOU 1 4 5 6 8 OAK Sonny Gray* 15:35
Ryan Vogelsong SF 2 5 4 2 7 WAS Dan Haren 16:05
Jake Peavy BOS 6 8 6 6 4 TOR Mark Buehrle 19:07
Jeremy Guthrie KC 2 7 6 7 9 DET Anibal Sanchez 19:08
Joe Saunders SEA 3 4 6 10 8 TB Alex Cobb 19:10
Andre Rienzo* CHA 5 1 2 3 0 MIN Mike Pelfrey 20:10
Tony Cingrani CIN 7 3 5 4 5 MIL Kyle Lohse 20:10
Zack Wheeler NYN 4 6 5 6 6 SD Tyson Ross 22:10

To learn how Pitcher and Team NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
To learn how Game NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
* = Fewer than 20 IP, NERD at discretion of very handsome author.