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2019 STARTING PITCHER INDEX
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STARTING PITCHER PROFILES WITH STATISTICAL ANALYSIS & RANKINGS FROM BLUE CHIPS TO EMERGING MARKETS AND EVEN THE OBSCURE
Last season Anderson finished fifth in earned run average among starting pitchers with minimum 100 innings pitched but sixty-third in expected fielding independent pitching.
What cause and effect created Chase's solid season?
An increase in fastball velocity and the redistribution of his repertoire resulted in career highs for both strikeout and swinging strike percentages.
Also of note, an unsustainable left on base percentage accompanied by depressed batted balls in play and career low home run to fly ball ratio, buoyed this perfect storm of a season.
Is Anderson's evolution complete with the addition of swing and miss combined with control or is his expected fielding independent pitching the guide to observe here with this fly ball pitcher who calls Miller Park home?
Over the last four years Chase has posted an earned run average north of four in three different seasons, he's never pitched one hundred and sixty innings in a season and prior to last year his career batting average on balls in play .299, left on base percentage 74.0% and home run to fly ball 13.2% versus last season numbers.
2017 Season April 6th - September 29th
25 GS 12-4 141.1 IP 133 K (8.47 K/9) 41 BB (2.61 BB/9) .265 BABIP 80.6 LOB% 42.9 FB% 8.6 HR/FB 2.74 ERA 4.33 xFIP 1.09 WHIP
Post All-Star Break July 20th 2016 - September 29th 2017
38 GS 17-5 207.0 IP 186 K (8.09 K/9) 61 BB (2.65 BB/9) .276 BABIP 82.5 LOB% 41.8 FB% 10.1 HR/FB 2.83 ERA 3.85 xFIP 1.16 WHIP
2016: Fourseam 35.86% Sinker 20.87% Cutter 5.06% Curve 13.54% Change 24.03%
2017: Fourseam 33.49% Sinker 19.38% Cutter 12.81% Curve 18.28% Change 16.05%
2016: Fourseam 8.59% Sinker 5.10% Cutter 5.26% Curve 5.90% Change 16.61%
2017: Fourseam 11.70% Sinker 6.96% Cutter 9.21% Curve 13.13% Change 16.27%
When do we believe change is real? I have put forth various arguments to justify or question past versus present performance but acquisition cost is everything and Anderson is currently the 42nd starting pitcher off the board with an average draft position of 162.27 since January 1st.
ARCHER, CHRIS - TAMPA BAY RAYS (January 23rd)
How awesome is Archer? Over his last three seasons he has an expected fielding independent pitching of 3.25 spanning six hundred & fourteen innings with three straight seasons of two hundred innings pitched and only Max Scherzer, Chris Sale & Corey Kluber have struck out more batters than Archer's seven hundred & thirty-four.
Unfortunately, Chris has delivered consecutive seasons of an earned run average above four, despite his impressive peripherals.
Last season Chris recorded career highs in strikeout percentage, swinging strike percentage and strikeout to walk percentage (29.2 - 7.0 = 22.2%) .
One hiccup is the long ball with fifty-seven combined in 2016 (30) + 2017 (27) and back to back seasons of home run to fly ball percentage greater than fourteen percent. And last year he posted a career worst ground ball percentage.
Archer's major issue is his stark Home versus Away splits over the past two seasons. He is a victim of his surroundings, living in the American League East with a career earned run average circa five in both Camden Yards and Fenway Park.
Tropicana Field 2017 105.0 IP 32.7 K% 6.5 BB% 10.5 HR/FB 3.26 ERA 2.99 xFIP 1.13 WHIP
Away 2017 96.0 IP 25.7 K% 7.6 BB% 17.5 HR/FB 4.97 ERA 3.75 xFIP 1.40 WHIP
Tropicana Field 2016 102.0 IP 29.6 K% 8.2 BB% 11.0 HR/FB 2.65 ERA 3.25 xFIP 1.13 WHIP
Away 2016 99.1 IP 25.4 K% 7.6 BB% 21.3 HR/FB 5.44 ERA 3.57 xFIP 1.36 WHIP
2015: Fourseam 54.19% Slider 39.22% Change 6.59%
2016: Fourseam 48.45% Slider 40.22% Change 11.29%
2017: Fourseam 47.73% Slider 44.12% Change 8.15%
Archer has finished first or second among qualified starting pitchers in slider utilization over the last three years (Tyson Ross 2015 & Michael Pineda 2016) and that pitch has generated a whiff percentage north of twenty percent for three consecutive seasons.
Dinelson Lamet was the only other starter last year to throw the slide piece more than forty percent with minimum one hundred innings pitched.
Is this the season Chris pitches to his indicators and returns or exceeds his draft day value?
He is currently the fifteenth starting pitcher off the board with an average draft position of 56.53 in the nfbc because two hundred innings pitched and two hundred strikeout seasons are rare commodities in this current market.
ARRIETA, JAKE - FREE AGENT (January 24th)
Sometimes numbers speak louder then words.
2015-2017 IP 229.0 197.1 & 168.1 K 236 190 & 163 K% 27.1 23.9 & 23.1 GB% 56.2 52.6 & 45.1 HR/FB 7.8 11.1 & 14.0
ERA 1.77 3.10 & 3.53 xFIP 2.61 3.68 & 4.11 WHIP 0.86 1.08 & 1.22 FPK% 60.2 59.0 & 58.0 SWK% 11.1 10.5 & 8.7
FB% 50.7 % 65.4% & 63.9% FBv 94.6 93.7 & 92.1 "CT"% 29.1% 17.8% & 14.1% "CT"v 90.3 89.2 & 87.8
If you drink this data in, it becomes apparent that another component to focus on is the decline of Jake's chase rate over his last three seasons 34.2% 29.6% & 27.9%
Where Arrieta's signs is a curious case and has significance, ie: Anaheim would be an ideal landing spot versus Milwaukee which would be miserable.
Arrieta currently resides inside the Top One Hundred @ 98.52 since January 1st, just ahead of Gerrit Cole which I cannot condone because when the Cole train leaves the station it ain't stopping this season.
TREVOR BAUER - CLEVELAND INDIANS (January 25th)
Breaking bad, the deconstruction of Trevor Bauer.
The classification of pitches on Bauer's brooksbasell.net page are Fourseam, Sinker, Cutter, Curve, Slider, Change, Spilt and Screwball.
Last season he threw the fastball fifty percent of the time, relying heavily on the Fourseam and committed to the Curve as his number two option, throwing it thirty percent of time.
I want to buy Bauer but I still have hesitations because some red flags still exist starting with his WHIP. Also of importance is The Father, The Son and Holy Spirit which were less than encouraging Chase Rate 25.1%, First Pitch Strike 56.9% and Swinging Strike 9.2%.
Here is my optimistic outlook, last season among qualified starting pitchers Trevor finished with the fourth highest Batting Average Balls In Play, Sixteenth in Strikeout Percentage and seventeenth in expected Fielding Independent Pitching.
Bauer recently turned twenty-seven years old (January 17th) and seemed to take that step forward or at least mature on the mound if you watched him pitch, especially in the second half of the season.
Did my eyes deceive me?
Post All-Star Break
73.1 IP 26.7 K% 7.5 BB% .338 BABIP 87.1 LOB% 45.4 GB% 15.1 HR/FB 3.01 ERA 3.53 xFIP 1.31 WHIP 27.3 O-SWG% 57.6 FPK% 10.0 SWK%
Second half surge is not fully confirmed but what stood out was the Slide Piece pitchability 12.21% with Whiff Percentage of 21.14%.
I will have exposure as he is priced for profit, how much is to be determined.
JOSE BERRIOS - MINNESOTA TWINS (January 26th)
Putting the breaks on Berrios breakout?
Judging Jose's 2017 season through the looking glass.
Home versus Away (H) 67.1 IP 25 K% 6.0 BB% .197 BAA .262 BABIP 78.2 LOB% 42.1 GB% 4.6 HR/FB 2.41 ERA 3.89 xFIP 0.95 WHIP
(A) 78.1 IP 20.1 K% 9.2 BB% .267 BAA .310 BABIP 65.9 LOB% 36.8 GB% 12.1 HR/FB 5.17 ERA 5.04 xFIP 1.47 WHIP
First Eight Game Starts (1-8) 54.0 IP 25.2 K% 7.1 BB% .180 BAA .227 BABIP 79.0 LOB% 44.8 GB% 6.9 HR/FB 2.67 ERA 4.27 xFIP 0.91 WHIP
Next Eight Game Starts (9-16) 41.2 IP 18.6 K% 6.9 BB% .287 BAA .326 BABIP 62.3 LOB% 35.1 GB% 13.5 HR/FB 5.40 ERA 4.92 xFIP 1.49 WHIP
Final Nine Game Starts (17-25) 48.2 IP 23.6 K% 9.4 BB% .243 BAA .311 BABIP 71.0 LOB% 37.2 GB% 7.7 HR/FB 4.07 ERA 4.42 xFIP 1.36 WHIP
2016: Fourseam 50.62% Sinker 13.34% Curve 21.29% Change 14.75%
2017: Fourseam 35.01% Sinker 26.10% Curve 30.42% Change 8.47%
Berrios was boosted by the Curve and its Whiff Percentage bounce from 9.34 to 14.19 last season. And improvements occurred in chase rate, first pitch strike and swinging strike percentages.
Jose is currently starting pitcher number twenty-eight off the board with an average draft position of 105.53 and for good reason but is this the season it all comes together?
MADISON BUMGARNER - SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (January 27th)
I am willing to give Madison a mulligan for last season because he is a proud athlete and one of the games best competitors who I believe rushed back from non baseball related injuries. Moral of the story is you never go full country.
Prior to last season, Bumgarner was one of the most bankable pitchers with regards to Return On Investment. If your confidence is somewhat shaken or some small level of doubt has creeped in, that is understandable but is it prudent?
2014-2016 662.1 IP 26.5 K% 5.1 BB% 21.4 K-BB% 34.0 O-SWG% 65.4 FPK% 11.7 SWK%
2017 April 27.0 IP 25.0 K% 3.6 BB% 21.4 K-BB% 38.6 O-SWG% 65.2 FPK% 11.1 SWK%
July 25.1 IP 20.6 K% 4.9 BB% 15.7 K-BB% 33.0 O-SWG% 60.8 FPK% 5.3 SWK%
August 33.0 IP 24.2 K% 4.6 BB% 19.7 K-BB% 34.9 O-SWG% 72.7 FPK% 11.3 SWK%
September 25.2 IP 19.2 K% 4.8 BB% 14.4 K-BB% 31.0 O-SWG% 66.4 FPK% 13.0 SWK%
At this point I have the Big Four+ Strasburg ahead of Bumgarner and I'm content with one of deGrom, Carrasco or Severino as my anchor if I missed out. That said, I am still confident in Madison's abilities and if healthy he'll be atop the innings pitched leaderboard once again.Also, maybe last season is more of a positive than negative in the long run.
DYLAN BUNDY - BALTIMORE ORIOLES (January 28th)
In deconstructing Dylan, what popped off the page was his fastball usage, its decline and the implementation of the slide piece or "the sickness" which was a whiff percentage wonder.
One can make arguments for and against Bundy because of talent and prodigious potential that still exists versus pitching profile, park or the animal that is the American League East.
2016: Fourseam 57.46% Sinker 4.23% Curve 18.39% Slider 0.00% Change 19.91%
2017: Fourseam 53.83% Sinker 0.00% Curve 10.43% Slider 22.06% Change 13.67%
2016: Fourseam 10.95% Sinker 2.56% Curve 7.37% Slider 0.00% Change 22.62%
2017: Fourseam 7.83% Sinker 0.00% Curve 6.62% Slider 25.21% Change 13.56%
Dylan's Fourseam did decrease a couple of ticks but when you have weapons such as his Slider and Change with a delta of 10 mph off the Fastball that can be devastating.
I have told you the good but now here's the bad, circa 50% fly ball percentage in Camden Yards is not a fantastic formula, especially when factoring in his hard hit percentage. And can he consistently take the ball every fifth day?
Bundy is the very definition of risk versus reward and why you build diverse portfolios. He is currently just inside the top two hundred according to nfbc adp since January 1st, perfectly priced.
CARLOS CARRASCO - CLEVELAND INDIANS (January 29th)
Since August 1oth 2014, Carrasco has resided in rarified air among the games elite.
97 GS 599.0 IP 28.1 K% 5.6 BB% 35.7 O-SWG% 64.7 FPK% 13.3 SWK%
.295 BABIP 76.2 LOB% 48.3 GB% 12.9 HR/FB 29.8 HARD%
3.17 ERA 3.01 FIP 2.96 xFIP 1.07 WHIP
Chris Sale's last three seasons 2015-2017
95 GS 649.2 IP 31.2 K% 5.0 BB% 34.8 O-SWG% 65.4 FPK% 13.6 SWK%
.300 BABIP 75.9 LOB% 40.9 GB% 12.1 HR/FB 29.0 HARD%
3.21 ERA 2.89 FIP 2.96 xFIP 1.03 WHIP
Carlos is armed with mid Nineties Fastball but also is equipped three with solid secondary pitches Curve, Slider & Change that provide substantial swing and miss.
2015: Fourseam 40.60% Sinker 15.08% Curve 7.92% Slider 22.38% Change 13.99%
2016: Fourseam 41.02% Sinker 12.28% Curve 15.38% Slider 15.20% Change 16.12%
2017: Fourseam 35.23% Sinker 13.25% Curve 13.73% Slider 21.50% Change 16.30%
2015: Fourseam 6.50% Sinker 10.79% Curve 19.12% Slider 25.69% Change 28.31%
2016: Fourseam 6.28% Sinker 9.96% Curve 17.34% Slider 24.71% Change 20.74%
2017: Fourseam 6.75% Sinker 6.70% Curve 18.29% Slider 26.70% Change 18.01%
Carrasco reached the two hundred innings plateau last season and has pitched at least 180 innings or more in two of the last three years.
Three Year Average
29 GS 14-9 177 IP 197 K 3.41 ERA 1.10 WHIP
Consider that last season only Eighteen Starters pitched at least 150 innings with 150 strikeouts & sub 3.50 ERA
LUIS CASTILLO - CINCINNATI REDS (January 29th)
In retrospect the Reds rolled the Marlins on January 17th 2017 when they acquired Luis Castillo, Austin Brice and Isaiah White for Dan Straily. Cincinnati received the crown jewel and an emerging ace in Castillo.
Last season, Luis pitched a total of 169.2 innings between AA (80.1) & MLB (89.1) and raised his game once arriving to the Show.
Among starters who pitched minimum of eighty innings last year, Luis Castillo was sixth in Ground Ball Percentage 58.8%, sixteenth with 3.12 Earned Run Average, tied for sixteenth in Strikeout Percentage 27.3% and nineteenth with 3.41 Expected Fielding Independent Pitching.
June and July 48.0 IP 26.2 K% 9.2 BB% 57.6 GB% 51.8 FPK% 11.7% SWK%
August and Sept 41.1 IP 28.7 K% 8.5 BB% 60.4 GB% 63.4 FPK% 13.8 SWK%
June & July Fourseam 59.40% Sinker 5.14% Slider 13.66% Change 21.68%
August & Sept Fourseam 37.78% Sinker 21.20% Slider 17.78% Change 23.25%
June & July Fourseam 9.49% Sinker 2.44% Slider 14.68% Change 21.39%
August & Sept Fourseam 11.76% Sinker 6.45% Slider 17.31% Change 26.47%
Fourseam 97.85 Sinker 97.53 Slider 85.55 Change 88.06
The maturation on the mound and the transformation of Castillo can be detailed in terms of fastball usage, fourseam versus his sinking fastball when combined with studly secondary pitches such as the slide piece or slurve and that crazy good change.
Even with a pull back in terms of his strand rate or an increase with batted balls in play, his skill set is extremely solid and promising with an elite ground ball percentage plus stout swing & miss.
Castillo is currently rising up draft boards as the 26th starting pitcher with an adp of 107.21 just ahead of other helium hurlers, Luke Weaver and Jose Berrios in the nfbc since January 15th.
TYLER CHATWOOD - CHICAGO CUBS (January 30th)
The Cubs surprised some people with their free agent signing of Tyler Chatwood on December 7th for three years and $38M.
Lets do an autopsy on this former Rockies pitcher.
Step One: Coors versus Away
Coors Field 2016 78.0 IP 16.0 K% 9.7 BB% .337 BABIP 64.9 LOB% 59.0 GB% 19.6 HR/FB 6.12 ERA 4.33 xFIP 1.64 WHIP
Away 2016 80.0 IP 19.1 K% 11.3 BB% .227 BABIP 84.3 LOB% 55.1 GB% 6.2 HR/FB 1.69 ERA 4.40 xFIP 1.11 WHIP
Coors Field 2017 70.1 IP 18.6 K% 11.9 BB% .350 BABIP 69.4 LOB% 57.6 GB% 28.6 HR/FB 6.01 ERA 4.14 xFIP 1.68 WHIP
Away 2017 77.1 IP 19.4 K% 12.5 BB% .217 BABIP 77.8 LOB% 58.6 GB% 17.9 HR/FB 3.49 ERA 4.39 xFIP 1.23 WHIP
Step Two: Fastball Usage (Velo) + Cutter/Slider & Curve
2016 Fastball Percentage 70.7% (92.2) Velo + Cutter/Slider 22.0% & Curve 4.8%
2017 Fastball Percentage 63.5% (94.7) Velo + Cutter/Slider 20.8% & Curve 11.2%
Step Three: Ground Ball, First Pitch Strike & Swinging Strike Percentages
2016 Ground Ball Percentage 57.2% First Pitch Strike Percentage 54.7% & Swinging Strike Percentage 7.8%
2017 Ground Ball Percentage 58.1% First Pitch Strike Percentage 53.6% & Swinging Strike Percentage 9.9%
Chatwood's numbers away from Coors are encouraging and an uptick in fastball velocity combined with two secondary pitches plus an elite ground ball percentage are the obvious reasons for optimism. But his first strike percentage has been abysmal coupled with a chase rate that is below average and Cy still needs to suppress the long ball.
Eno Sarris wrote an interesting article about "What the Cubs Might See in Tyler Chatwood" over at Fangraphs and I highly recommend you read it.
Tyler has an average draft position of 270.81 in the nfbc since January 15th, so an 18th round flyer to find out who Chatwood really is and if the Cubs have the cure is the current cost.
MIKE CLEVINGER - CLEVELAND INDIANS (January 31th)
Last season Mike Clevinger pitched 121.2 innings with 114.0 innings coming as starting pitcher.
Among Starters with minimum 100 innings pitched.,
2.84 Earned Run Average (6th)
80.4% Left On Base Percentage (10th)
12.4% Swinging Strike Percentage (14th)
27.3% Strikeout Percentage (17th)
64.5% First Pitch Strike Percentage (21st)
1.21 Walks + Hits / Innings Pitched (29th)
4.05 Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (41st)
.269 Batted Balls In Play (104th)
11.6% Walk Percentage (120th)
In Mike's final seven starts between August 6th through September 19th the combination of some luck and solid skills based stats provides for a potentially profitable pitcher.
7 GS 6-1 44.1 IP 29.4 K% 10.6 BB% .200 BAA .272 BABIP 84.3 LOB% 2.22 ERA 3.60 xFIP 1.14 WHIP 68.9 FPK% 11.6 SWK%
2017 Fourseam 53.37% Curve 11.40% Slider 19.21% Change 16.02%
2017 Fourseam 5.64% Curve 20.87% Slider 22.90 Change 18.49%
The Whiffing, triple threat of swing and miss pitches is tantalizing and improved control could catapult him. But remember expectations are everything and price points produce profitability, his current nfbc average draft position is 218.06 since January 15th.
Can Clevinger crack the Indians rotation come opening day or is he slated for stint in the minors to start the season because he still has options available?
GERRIT COLE - HOUSTON ASTROS (FEBRURARY 2nd)
Over the last three seasons, twenty-one pitchers have thrown two hundred innings with at least one hundred & ninety strikeouts. Eleven pitchers have accomplished this multiple times with four of them achieving this in all three seasons (Archer, Kluber, Sale & Scherzer) and seven others obtaining this criteria twice (Bumgarner, Cole, Greinke, Hamels, Lester, Price & Verlander).
2015 208.0 IP 202 K (24.3 K%) 44 BB (5.3 BB%) .304 BABIP 74.9 LOB% 48.0 GB% 6.5 HR/FB 2.60 ERA 3.16 xFIP 1.09 WHIP 31.1 O-SWG% 61.5 FPK% 10.2 SWK%
2017 203.0 IP 196 K (23.1 K%) 55 BB (6.5 BB%) .298 BABIP 74.6 LOB% 45.6 GB% 15.9 HR/FB 4.26 ERA 3.81 xFIP 1.25 WHIP 27.9 O-SWG% 63.5 FPK% 9.5 SWK%
Post * ASB 95.1 IP 26.0 K% 7.1 BB% 63.9 FPK% 10.3 SWK% 28.1 HARD%
While Cole's statistics seem similar, his pitch usage has undergone a transformation with career low sixty percent fastball usage and that percentage could possibly be heading further south with the trade to Houston.
2015: Fourseam 51.05% Sinker 16.17% Curve 7.84% Slider 21.13% Change 3.78%
2016: Fourseam 50.16% Sinker 16.63% Curve 9.94% Slider 17.89% Change 5.39%
2017: Fourseam 43.23% Sinker 16.48% Curve 12.05% Slider 17.43% Change 10.69%
Leaving PNC Park and the National League is usually not a favorable outcome but Minute Maid Park just might result in an optimal outcome for Gerrit's game when considering park factors such as strikeouts, runs and home runs.
Cole is climbing up draft boards as the 21st starting pitcher selected in nfbc drafts since January 15th with an average draft position of 87.25 and going just ahead of Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani and free agent Jake Arrieta.
PATRICK CORBIN - ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (FEBRURARY 3rd)
The problem with projecting Patrick... Is Patrick Corbin.
His positive attributes outweigh the negatives but exhibiting it over the course of a full season instead of intervals is necessary.
An eleven start stretch over two months last summer, amplified an extremely impressive skill set.
July & August 68.1 IP 26.5 K% 6.3 BB% 20.2 K-BB% .332 BABIP 82.0 LOB% 50.3 GB% 15.1 HR/FB 28.7 HARD% 36.0 O-SWG% 63.1 FPK% 13.7 SWK%
Pre versus Post All-Star Break
Pre*ASB 101.1 IP 20.8 K% 6.6 BB% .346 BABIP 71.9 LOB% 50.9 GB% 16.8 HR./FB 4.71 ERA 3.87 xFIP 1.53 WHIP 30.7 O-SWG% 65.7 FPK% 10.7 SWK%
Post*ASB 88.1 IP 22.5 K% 8.4 BB% .300 BABIP 77.5 LOB% 49.8 GB% 13.3 HR/FB 2.61 ERA 3.91 xFIP 1.29 WHIP 33.1 O-SWG% 58.5 FPK% 11.5 SWK%
Among qualified starters only Archer hurled his slide piece more than Corbin did @ 44% versus 37% last season.
2016: Fourseam 40.26% Sinker 23.89% Slider 25.65% Change 10.20%
2017: Fourseam 32.11% Sinker 21.79% Slider 37.38% Change 8.65%
2016: Fourseam 5.38% Sinker 4.61% Slider 23.32% Change 10.43%
2017: Fourseam 7.21% Sinker 3.39% Slider 21.75% Change 7.81%
The key question with regards to all Diamondbacks pitchers this season is, will the humidor be installed and its expected impact if implemented?
Corbin's cost is currently @ 253.27 since January 24th in fifteen team drafts (11), that is seventeenth round speculation.
JOHNNY CUETO - SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (FEBRURARY 18TH)
What happened? Cueto crashed last year, battled blisters and arm injury that interrupted six weeks of his sunk cost campaign, ending a streak of three straight seasons with two hundred innings pitched (675.1), in which only David Price (698.2) and Max Scherzer (677.1) had thrown more innings over that time span.
Last year, Johnny posted his first expected fielding independent pitching season north of four since 2010. The main culprits were a walk rate that went the wrong way combined with an uncharacteristically high home run to fly ball ratio.
On the positive side, Cueto showcased strong chase rate, first pitch strike and swing & miss percentages.
Cueto just celebrated his thirty-second birthday, is pitching his home games @ AT&T park on a team I expect to be vastly improved and his priced for profit.
YU DARVISH - CHICAGO CUBS (FEBRURARY 18TH)
*Baseball-Reference, Brooksbaseball & Fangraphs