These are some of the biggest starting pitcher ERA differentials from the first month of baseball compared to the second month. I love looking at these things for two reasons. First is how amazing it is that underlying metrics really can work/predict how a pitcher’s performance will be in the future. Second is to realize you should never react harshly when baseball season starts. Just because a pitcher starts the year off poorly like Noah Syndergaard doesn’t mean you should be trading him right away. I am going to discuss each pitcher below to help determine if their ERA increase or decrease seems justified going forward.
As of 5/29/2019
Zach Davies started the year off hot with a 1.38 ERA. As you can see by the end of the first month there was a clear regression coming. Not only did his ERA jump from 1.38 to 3.10 but it looks like it will keep rising. He currently has an 83.3 LOB% when his average is about ten points lower at 73.7%. His K-BB% is below league average and his velocity has dipped nearly two ticks from last year. Plus, his main pitch only has an 8.5 Whiff% and he leaves it in the zone way too often. I don’t see much here and with a SIERA of 5.02 and current xFIP of 4.85 on the year, he looks like a 4-4.50 ERA pitcher to me.
Marcus Stroman jumped from an ERA of 1.43 to 4.31. To start the year, he was using his slider a lot compared to last year. He went from using is 30.4% of the time to 36.4% of the time. The problem is his slider has been erratic. When he has command of it and it clicks, he has a great outing (which he was able to do the first month). But when he loses control he gets hit and hit hard. His stats aren’t bad as he does create swings and misses but with his control issues and having the worst BB/9 of his career I think we are seeing a 4-4.50 ERA pitcher.
Aaron Sanchez plummeted in the month of May. His current ERA is at 3.75 and I expect that to rise into the 4-4.50 area. I do like that he has upped the usage of his best pitch (curve) seeing as how it has a 44.6 Whiff%. But he only has three pitches and only one is currently posting a decent pitch value. Just like Stroman, I see around a 4-4.5 ERA here.
Max Fried did have a jump in ERA but I expect him to stay in the 3.50-3.75 area. His LOB% and BABIP are around career averages and he has a solid K-BB% to back it up. His curve is filthy and his current SIERA of 3.86, FIP of 3.70 and xFIP of 3.49 all back up a pitcher who should produce solid production. I wouldn’t worry about the rough month he had as he should rebound just fine.
Trevor Bauer – please read this awesome article from our very own Frank Ammirante. https://thescorecrow.com/2019/05/29/deep-dive-trevor-bauer/
Brandon Woodruff had a much better second month of baseball and is here to stay. His stuff kind of reminds me of Matt Harvey’s when he first came up. Woodruff is displaying so much potential putting out a 22.5 K-BB% with a 30.3 O-Swing% and 11.9 SwStr%. He is 82nd percentile in K% and has a 30 Whiff% on two pitches. This guy is legit and will continue to produce, but the only question is how many innings will they let him pitch this year?
Eduardo Rodriguez is kind of like Pablo Lopez for me. His metrics are so good, and I just keep waiting for him to put it all together. All his numbers suggest a 3.50-4 ERA with high K potential. His xWOBA and xBA are both better than league average and he sort of figured it out in May. His problem has been against lefties. He has let up more home runs to them this year compared to all of last year. If he can tame lefty bats and learn to pitch better against them, he should be successful.
I am putting Aaron Nola, Noah Syndergaard, and Chris Sale all together. They are all aces and as you can see have all rebounded nicely. The difference with these guys and the others is that they are all so good that you know they will figure it out and it looks like they have. All three are must starts and will be the rest of the year.
Questions and comments?
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