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2013 Blind Resume: Starting Pitcher, Part 1

Yesterday I looked at two outfielders who had very similar numbers and wrapped up the hitting resumes. Today we move from the outfield and head to the mound. Because there are a lot of starters, I will be doing two starting pitching resumes and today is part one. As usual see if you can guess the identities of the players before they are revealed later in the article.

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(Stats are as of Wednesday, June 12; ADPs are from Mock Draft Central; % Owned are from Yahoo!)

While these two players have very close rate stats, the major difference here is the amount of innings pitched. Because Player B has thrown more than double the amount of innings as Player A, he has won more games and has also struck out more total batters. No matter how good you are, you need to stay on the field to put up good numbers and Player B has done a better job of that so far this season. But aside from the innings deficit, these two players have an almost identical skill set.

Coming into the season, there was a lot of speculation surrounding Player A. Despite putting up solid numbers from 2010-2012, people were concerned about the drop in strikeouts and wondered if he was really a true ace. While he hasn’t pitched that bad, Jered Weaver has seen a pretty big decline in his stats this year. Player B on the other hand, wasn’t really targeted in most leagues because he began the season in the bullpen. However finally given the chance to start, Andrew Cashner has put up some pretty good numbers.

A lot of people (including myself) weren’t very high on Weaver coming into the season, and so far he has proved the doubters right. However in his defense, Weaver missed significant time this year with an elbow injury and has only made five starts on the season. Five starts (28.2 innings) is a pretty small sample size and you can’t base too much on that little amount of data.  We can still look at how he has done so far in 2013 and what type of pitcher he has shown himself to be, but just make sure to take this analysis with a grain of salt.

After posting a career high 9.35 K/9 back in 2010, Weaver’s strikeouts have fallen off of the map. In the past three years he has posted a K/9 of 7.56, 6.77, and 6.59 respectively. A lot of that has to do with the speed of his pitches, and in those three years his fastball velocity (MPH) has been 90.1, 88.9, and 86.6.  While a 4 MPH decrease in velocity is huge, for Weaver it hasn’t been as big of an issue as it would be for most other pitchers. He has never relied on overpowering hitters with velocity, but instead by fooling them with his movement. Over the past three years Weaver has incorporated three pitches with an average vertical movement of over 10 inches. The velocity certainly helps, but when your pitches have that much movement, you don’t need the velocity to miss bats.

Weaver is an extreme fly ball pitcher and is always among the league leaders in FB%. However because his pitches move so much, that neutralizes a lot of the possible damage done by fly balls. Batters have had a hard time hitting home runs against him and have popped up more instead; throughout his career Weaver has constantly been above average in HR/FB% and IFFB%. He has also shown great control, and since the start of 2010 his BB/9 is a sharp 2.17.

Because he doesn’t strikeout batters, Weaver’s FIP will always be higher than it should be. His ERA has constantly been lower than his FIP throughout his career, so his current 4.00 FIP doesn’t really worry me. Weaver has gotten a bit unlucky with stranded runners this year (69.2%) and when that normalizes it should help his ERA. Even though the strikeouts are down and will likely stay down, Weaver is still a solid pitcher. Without the Ks, he is not an ace in my book, but he is a solid number two starter in any league.

Cashner on the other hand, doesn’t struggle with velocity like Weaver. This year his fastball has averaged 95.6 MPH, which is one of the fastest in the league. When batters swing at that pitch they only make contact 72% of the time, which is almost a whiff every three swing! But despite his overpower fastball, batters just aren’t swinging and missing on his other pitches. So far this year they have made contact with his secondary offerings 85% of the time. Also, batters have only swung at 24.5% of his pitches outside the strike zone, and that mark is the second lowest among all qualified pitchers this year.

Dominating with one pitch will work in the bullpen when you are only facing a few batters, but when you are facing a whole lineup multiple times you need to have more than just one successful pitch. This is evident by looking at Cashner’s K/9 splits as a starter and reliever over his career. When he is working out of the bullpen he averages an 8.8 K/9, but when starting his K/9 is just 6.9. This year his K/9 is at just 6.4 and while I think it will come up, Cashner will have a hard time striking out more than the league average unless he improves his secondary pitches.

Owned in just 32% of leagues, Cashner makes for a good add due to his upside. His ERA and WHIP have both been solid so far this year, and even without the strikeouts he is an effective fantasy starter. Pitching at PETCO Park every other start is also a plus, and he has a 2.65 ERA when pitching there. Right now Cashner is just a guy where you want to play the matchups; start him only at home or against a bad team. But if he can improve his secondary pitches, that will not only boost his strikeouts, but help his ERA and WHIP as well. A guy who has a lot of great streaming matchups with the upside to be an must-start guy sound like a pretty good add to me.

Bonus Resume

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 (Stats are as of Wednesday, June 12; ADPs are from Mock Draft Central; % Owned are from Yahoo!)

For the answer (sans the analysis) to this starting pitcher bonus resume, tune in tomorrow when I take on another pair of starting pitchers!

Yesterday’s answer:

Player A: Josh Hamilton

Player B: Brandon Moss

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About the author: Zach is an Intelligence Analyst in the US Air Force where he researches/analyzes military data and creates summarized reports to inform others of their recommended course of action. Here at Baseball Professor, he does essentially the same thing by researching/analyzing the stats and putting them in a summarized article to inform you of a recommended course of action for your fantasy team. Zach has a huge passion for baseball and has been adamantly following the sport since he was nine years old and managing fantasy teams since he was thirteen. Right now a small town in New Hampshire is where he calls home, and like the majority of this writing staff, he is a fervent (unbiased!) Red Sox fan. Also, he probably thinks Mike Trout should win the MVP every year until 2031.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jimit Shah

    R.A. Dickey & Jarrod Parker..

    • http://www.baseballprof.com/author/zpincince/ Zach Pincince

      Correct! I knew Dickey was going to regress this year, but I didn’t think it would be to that degree!