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Pitching Under September’s Radar

This morning we took a look at some of the hitters who performed extremely well over the final month of the season, but went largely unnoticed for a variety of factors. Now, let’s take a similar look at the best under the radar pitchers. Again, we are using WPA/LI as our barometer. For starters, Roy Oswalt and Derek Lowe dominated the season’s final month, posting a 1.64 and 1.27 mark, respectively. In six starts, Oswalt pitched 44.1 innings, surrendering 24 hits, walking just six hitters, while striking out 30 of them. He allowed baserunners to the tune of a 0.68 WHIP, and allowed just 1.42 runs per nine innings. Lowe allowed even less hits and runs. In five starts and 30.1 innings, he managed a 0.59 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP. Other than these two, who performed well on the mound?

Jesse Litsch did, for sure. Formerly an intern for the Tampa Bay Rays (I honestly didn’t write Devil!) Litsch found himself a key component of baseball’s best rotation and he definitely had a September to remember. In six starts, he compiled a 1.13 WPA/LI thanks to a 2.18 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and just 27 hits surrendered in 41.1 innings. For the season, Litsch recorded a 3.58 ERA, 4.29 FIP, and a 2.54 K/BB. He may be one of the least intimidating pitchers, based on mound presence and appearance, but he throws all of his pitches at least 10% of the time and looks to have great control over his controllable skills.

I never thought I would ever get the chance to write anything positive about Kyle Davies, a guy I used to wish would face the Phillies when on the Braves, but he… wasn’t… that… bad… this year. His overall season saw him make 21 starts with a 4.05 ERA and 4.22 FIP. His K/BB was the highest it has ever been at just 1.65, but hey, at least it is some type of an improvement. In September he was 1.10 wins above average, with a 2.27 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP, walking 7 and fanning 24 in 31.2 innings.

Mark Buehrle seems to do the same thing every year. He isn’t a Cy Young Award contender, and he is above average, but he is in that area between being slightly above average and being well above average. This year was a typical Buehrle line with a 3.79 ERA and a 3.94 FIP. In September, he produced a 0.94 WPA/LI, posting a 2.29 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, while striking out 30 and walking ten.

Lastly, another Royal found his way into this article. Zack Greinke had a great September, posting a 2.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, resulting in a 0.92 WPA/LI. He walked just 7 while fanning 32 in his 33 innings of work. On the whole, he produced a 3.47 ERA, 3.56 FIP, and 3.27 K/BB. Zack also experienced the highest frequency of groundballs in his entire, but short, career. With a .318 BABIP I would normally call for some type of regression, but Zack has posted BABIPs of .318, .316, and .318 over the last three seasons, so perhaps this should be expected.

The headlines were dominated by Sabathia, Lee, Halladay, Lincecum, and Santana, but Oswalt and Lowe staked claim as September’s best, and the five players mentioned above were decent surprises.