Pitchers Primed For a Better Second Half

Michael Simione  | July 11th, 2019

Max Fried

Max Fried started the year off hot with a 2.43 ERA in May. He has since cooled off putting up an ERA of 4.11 in May and 5.68 ERA in June. I wouldn’t shy away from him though; in fact, I would be buying anywhere I can.

Overall in the season, his underlying numbers show improvement with a 4.29 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 3.42 xFIP, and 3.93 SIERA. He has a solid 5.5 pVAL on his slider, his velocity is up from last year, and he is in the top 4% in barrels. Nonetheless, he seems to be getting slightly unlucky with a .330 wOBA and .320 xwOBA.

Since June 1st Fried has only cemented as to why improvement is coming. He has a 4.16 FIP, 3.10 xFIP, 3.83 SIERA, to go with a solid 16.0 K-BB%. While his overall season numbers show improvement coming his 30-45 days show even more improvement! He also has recently lowered his usage of his fastball while increasing the usage of both of his breaking pitches (see below). This bodes well because both his slider and curve have above a 28.0 Whiff%.  

Slider and changeup usage have increased throughout the months.

Shane Bieber

Everyone knows by now that Shane Bieber is legit. All the analysts were right and called for a 2019 breakout campaign. So far this season he has a 3.45 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 3.04 xFIP, and 3.20 SIERA. He is posting four positive pVAL’s while having elite numbers in O-Swing% (34.9), SwStr% (14.5), and K-BB% (26.3). Why is Bieber on this list? Because I think he will get even better.

Since June 1st Bieber has a 3.09 ERA, 2.31 FIP, 2.19 xFIP, and 2.58 SIERA. Those numbers are just out of this world. I saw on another sports website an analyst points out that Bieber is sacrificing accuracy for strikeouts. While he did make some amazing points, I decided to see for myself how his accuracy has looked since the start of June. Yea, Bieber has improved his accuracy as you can see in the heat map below. If you own Bieber, I would be ecstatic because if he is learning to control his breaking pitches more and gets those home run numbers down, you are looking at a CY Young pitcher right here.

Heat map on the left is since June 1st. You can see he is hitting the corner a lot more compared to the month prior on the right.

Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish has been hurting his owners this entire season so far. He has a measly 5.01 ERA to go with a sub-par 5.29 FIP, 4.21 xFIP, and 4.48 SIERA. I am here to tell you to breathe! Darvish has had some misfortune as he seems to be getting unlucky on two (fastball and slider) out of three of his main pitches in terms on wOBA and xwOBA.

In a smaller, more recent scale is where I see some improvement coming. Since June 1st he does have an ERA of 5.00 with a 5.29 FIP. The good thing is that comes with a 3.83 xFIP and 3.81 SIERA. Not only that but Yu has been smart about pitch selection. Yu has the number one cutter in all of baseball. It is ranked first in terms of pVAL at an astounding 15.0. In 2018 he used it only 13.5% of the time and so far in 2019 he has used it 32.7% of the time! Not only that, in the past month he has upped its usage even more as you can see below! I like where he is going with this and it makes sense to utilize the best pitch in your arsenal. I honestly can see a 3.70-3.85 ERA pitcher going forward with high strikeout upside.

Notice the increase in usage of his Cutter through the months.

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