Oracle Report: Starting Pitchers
Who has excelled and struggled the past 30 days? Can guys like Buehrle keep it up? What about Mr. Wheeler and The Freak?
We've got a guy who threw a no-hitter. You know I have to mention him. Can an old timer like Mark Buehrle keep up his hot first half? Is Zack Wheeler ready to take the next step or not? It's not just Justin Verlander but it's also Max Scherzer who is struggling for the Tigers. Can guys like Cobb and Gray rebound from moderate recent work? That and more in the pitcher piece today.
Not gonna brag that Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter. That would be unseemly. It would also be unwise to do so given that he's sporting a poor set of ratios (4.42 ERA and 1.34 WHIP). The strikeouts are also regressing, down to 8.15 per nine, and that's a concern. Wednesday's outing though is a reminder that when locked in, when his mechanics are in check, Lincecum can still dominate big leaguers. I'd still look for the ERA to dip into the three's though the fact that his swinging strike percentage is at a career worst 9.6 percent (career 10.9) mitigates some of the upside.
IMPRESSIVE YET NOT?
Mark Buehrle has a 10-4 record, 2.52 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. This is his 15th season. He's never had an ERA under 3.12, and that was back in 2005. Since then he's not had one season within a run of where he's currently at. That's a run of seven years folks. His career xFIP is 4.21. This year the mark is 4.23. His career SIERA is 4.40. This year it's 4.48. His ERA is in line for a big surge. It's wise to sell now.
There are 22 pitchers in the AL that have seven wins. The only one with a WHIP above 1.30, one hundredth above the league average, is Jarred Cosart at 1.32. Cosart also has a basically league average 3.78 ERA (the league is at 3.81). Given that he's also struck out just 6.14 batters per nine, and walked 3.58 per nine – both marks below the league average – he's really nothing other than a streamer in mixed leagues. He does get an impressive 57 percent of batted balls sent toward the turf. At least he's got that working for him.
Zack Wheeler followed up a shutout with a total bomb like John Carter at the box office (to tell you the truth, I didn't think the movie was that bad. Oh, and I could look at Lynn Collins in that movie, probably for the rest of my life). Zack recorded six outs against the Athletics allowing six runs. Wheeler has good stuff. When he's locked in he can dominate. When he isn't... well, we just saw what happens. Fact is Wheeler is not Matt Harvey. Wheeler is still looking to find his game, to refine his game might be a better way to say it. The 91 Ks in 89 innings – we all love that. However, his ERA of 4.45 is terrible. His 1.38 WHIP is also terrible. Ditto his 3.74 BB/9 mark. To reiterate I love the strikeouts and that 53.5 percent ground ball rate, but until he does a better job of cutting down the free passes and locating his pitches, he's in the same area of hurlers like Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley (for more on him see below).
Are you finally listening about David Price? I tried to tell you all six weeks ago. Few listened. Well he's now rocking a 10.45 K/9 mark and a 1.02 walk rate (he leads baseball in strikeouts in June). He's issued 14 walks in 17 starts leading to a 10.29 K/BB mark. Only two pitchers have ever thrown 162 innings in a season with a mark of at least 10 (Cliff Lee and Bret Saberhagen). The WHIP is down to 1.09. That's better than his career mark by the way. Oh yeah, the K/9 and BB/9 are career bests too. The ERA is down to 3.63 as well. He's pitched much better than that. Check out his SIERA (2.48) and xFIP (2.55). Both numbers would be career bests, by a lot (3.23 and 3.12).
LAST 30 DAYS
Alex Cobb has a 6.15 ERA and five loses the last month. At least he's not Eric Stults (0-5, 6.32 ERA). I'd still be trying to buy low on Cobb. His 2-6 record and 4.10 ERA are not indicative of who he is. He's still striking out more than eight per nine, the WHIP is 1.21, and his ground ball rate is still a very impressive 55 percent.
Sonny Gray has a 2-2 record and 4.94 ERA over his last five starts. He's still been great on the year going 7-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Gotta love the 2.09 GB/FB ratio, but it would be nice for him to shave his league average walk rate a bit(3.09 BB/9). Given that he threw 182.1 innings last season he shouldn't be on an inning count this season.
Wade Miley has 44 strikeouts in his last 36.2 innings. How about that? Now he's also 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA so he's not exactly locked in, but the Ks and only nine walks the last 30 days suggest he's on the cusp of improvement.
Jeff Samardzija has a 4.82 ERA the past month with one win in five starts. The 2.53 ERA this year is fantastic. The 1.19 WHIP is impressive. So is the 2.71 BB/9 mark, half a batter below his mark from last season. The 8.48 K/9 mark is a tad low, the mark was better than nine the past two years, but that's quibbling. Impressively, his 52. percent ground ball rate would be a career best and the 4th straight season of improvement.
Justin Verlander has a 6.48 ERA over his last five starts. His struggles are well documented. Teammate Max Scherzer's struggles haven't been noted as frequently. Scherzer has a 5.63 ERA over his last six starts, and that's a concern. The struggles have brought his ERA up to 3.71. Given that his career ERA is 3.68 that 3.71 mark isn't all that surprising. However, after a 2.90 mark last season it's disappointing. Should be noted though that Scherzer has made 30 starts five times. Only one in those five seasons has his ERA been under 3.50.
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