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Some pitchers stink. I'm thinking of you Kevin Correia. Some pitchers are operating over their head. I'm staring you down Mark Buehrle. But what about those hurlers we expected to excel who have failed to do much of anything other than disappoint in 2014? Let's explore those guys and see if we can find out what's going on.


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Some pitchers stink. I'm thinking of you Kevin Correia. Some pitchers are operating over their head. I'm staring you down Mark Buehrle. But what about those hurlers we expected to excel who have failed to do much of anything other than disappoint in 2014? Let's explore those guys and see if we can find out what's going on.

A.J. Burnett has a 3.79 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 7.82 K/9 mark. Those are all junk for a guy who was at 3.30, 1.21 and 9.85 last year. There's 15 years of innings on this arm and that's always a concern, as is the fact that he's lost a mph from his fastball last year and 2.5 off his career rate. One result has been a walk explosion. Currently saddled with a 4.52 per nine mark, his rate the past two years was 2.95. There's also a concerning set of facts that include his lowest first pitch strike rate since 2003 and a career worst swinging strike percentage (it's 7.6 this season and is 10.0 for his career). He's also not getting any batters to chase pitches outside the zone as his 23 percent swing rate on balls this year is way off the 30 percent mark he sported the past three years. Buy only on the cheap. Warning signs abound if you're hoping for a repeat of last year, but this could still be a serviceable arm in mixed leagues.

Gerrit Cole has a 3.80 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. In 2014 those are, brace for it, league average numbers (3.79 and 1.30 are the major league numbers as of this writing). His K/9 rate is 7.99. The league average of 7.78. His walk rate per nine is 2.92. The league average is 3.09. His HR/9 mark is 1.01. The league average is 0.90. Is Cole a league average talent? Absolutely not, he's vastly superior to an average hurler, but the fact is that right now his performance mirrors league average type of stuff. His redeeming qualities are elite talent, an impressive 52.2 ground ball ratio, and a strong 1.86 GB/FB rate. The truth? Through 30 career starts Cole has been good, but right now his name is a bit bigger than his game.

Justin Masterson tossed seven scoreless innings with 10 Ks Monday night against the Red Sox. Even with that outing his ERA and WHIP sit at unpalatable levels (4.72 and 1.49). The most obvious place to start to explain the struggles is the explosion in his walk rate. He issued 3.54 per nine last year and it's 4.48 right now. His velocity is down as well, nearly three miles per hour from his career mark, and that's a concern. His first pitch strike percentage is a career best right now and his swinging strike rate is actually a six year high so there's still plenty of hope to hang your hat on if he can stop issuing the free passes. A solid, bottom of the rotation target in mixed leagues. I mean, who doesn't love the 8.23 K/9 and 2.74 GB/FB ratio which is fantastic.

David Price is 10th in baseball with a 9.60 K/9 mark. David Price is the AL leader with a 0.96 BB/9 mark. David Price leads baseball with an out of this world 10.00 K/BB ratio. In the history of baseball that mark has been bettered only twice by a pitcher who threw at least 162 innings (Bret Saberhagen at 11.00 in 1994 and Cliff Lee at 1028 in 2010). Twice. You can't do what he is doing and be as “bad” as he's been. Can't happen. He's really been bit by the long ball. He's allowed a 4-year high in the fly ball category (38.4 percent), but it's the career worst 12.9 HR/F ratio that has really bit him (9.4 for his career). The result is a 1.28 HR/9 mark. The last four seasons that mark hasn't even been 0.90 one time.  He's well worth adding in all formats from a disgruntled owner who will likely sell him at less than value. Just look at his xFIP (2.83) and SIERA (2.72) marks which are better than the level he's been at the past two years (xFIP 3.26 and 3.36 while his SIERA has been 3.12 and 3.27).

Chris Tillman won 16 games with a 3.71 ERA and 1.22 WHIP last year as he, finally, stepped up after years of failure. Two weeks ago he was fine as he had a 3.34 ERA. However, he's allowed 15 runs and 18 hits over his last 13.1 innings so now he's saddled with a 4.63 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. That's just not gonna get it done. Blame a few starts, OK we can do that, but there's a few other things going on here that aren't positive. Tillman has seen a big jump in his walk rate from 2.97 last year to 3.73 this year. He's also gave back a full batter from his 7.81 K/9 rate of last season. Perhaps that number is the outlier? He has a 6.88 mark for his career and has a 6.94 rate this season. His GB/FB rate of 0.97 is dead on last year, but it's worse than the league average. His 20.6 percent line drive rate is just off his 20.5 career mark. Both numbers are still slightly worse than league average. His 10.0 HR/F rate is actually down a bit from his 12.1 career mark. The league average is about nine percent. The truth is that Tillman if a very middling starting pitching option.     

Zack Wheeler has made 28 big league starts. He's the owner of a 3.76 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. As we saw above with Cole, those just aren't very good numbers. His 8.08 K/9 rate works, but his 4.04 BB/9 mark is often the cause of his woes. Until he does a better job throwing strikes his performance is likely to vacillate from start to start. It would also be nice if he tried to throw strike one more often, his 53.3 first pitch strike rate is solid but could improve. Oddly, for a guy with his stuff, his swinging strike rate is a bit lower than I would expect to see at 8.7 percent. I'm a huge fan of the significant increase in his ground ball rate this season as the mark has gone from 43 percent last year to 53 percent this year. If he keeps up his current pace it will go a long way to helping him to stabilize his performance. A great young arm who might be able to be had on the cheap.