FanPost

Peripheral Pitching Measures Hint at Hope

The Cleveland Indians' starting pitching rotation has been dealing with some bad luck in general that may too easily be included under the prevailing belief coming into this season that that the team was carrying a poor rotation. Mainly based on last year's horrible pitching performance, the hope was that some of the former proficient starters would turn things around and perhaps a new young starter would surprise and help improve upon last season's effort. I had kept noticing earlier in the season that a few of our guys were really racking up high strikeout totals, I mean really high numbers in comparison to past Cleveland Indians starters' performances, which were generally mediocre strikeout pitchers who looked to induce weak groundball contact (unfortunately to a poorly defensed infield). Below I'll show where things are standing right now with regards to FIP, xFIP, and ERA for the Indians' starting rotation. I'm curious about xFIP in particular, because of the normalization of HR/FB rate it provides and where I think we may be particularly unlucky thus far (with two guys in specific).

Name

ERA

FIP

xFIP

ERA-FIP

ERA-xFIP

Justin Masterson

3.52

3.52

3.59

0

-0.07

Ubaldo Jimenez

4.79

4.55

3.94

0.24

0.85

Zach McAllister

3.43

4.22

4.65

-0.79

-1.22

Scott Kazmir

5.89

5.26

4.13

0.63

1.76

Corey Kluber

3.73

3.27

2.98

0.46

0.75

HTML Tables

Justin Masterson is pretty spot-on with his performance and his peripherals, where we have actually been pretty lucky with Zach McAllister according to FIP and xFIP. Though I would also like to think that having possibly the best outfield defense in the game may help to suppress the cost of McAllister's fly-ball tendencies as a pitcher. The unluckiest pitcher thus far would be Scott Kazmir, who is striking out a hitter an inning but has given up too many homeruns at 1.96 per 9 innings pitched. xFIP takes into account what may be an exorbitant number of homeruns per fly ball for Kazmir and predicts an earned run average closer to 4. Corey Kluber's ERA is finally starting to match the way he has pitched lately, but both FIP and xFIP suggest it can go even lower at this pace.

Name

BABIP

LOB%

GB%

HR/FB

Justin Masterson

0.272

75.60%

55.40%

10.10%

Ubaldo Jimenez

0.278

70.00%

47.60%

15.90%

Zach McAllister

0.295

74.50%

38.40%

8.20%

Scott Kazmir

0.354

74.80%

38.80%

17.90%

Corey Kluber

0.325

73.20%

42.80%

13.50%

HTML Tables

Those BABIP numbers have me a bit concered about Ubaldo, though it isn't crazy low. What tempers this is the 15.9% HR/FB for Jimenez. This should be closer to 10% and is why xFIP sees him as a sub 4 ERA starter. On the other side we see Kazmir and Kluber who both have BABIPs higher than average. With Kluber we know that this has been consistent for him in the minors, so it may not move towards the league average, but with Kazmir it is a good 20-30 points above anything he was putting up during his hey-day in the mid-to-late 2000 seasons. His 17.9% HR/FB rate has also a lot of room to fall towards the league average and has been compounding with his low GB% (which is in-line with his career GB%). Where Carlos Carrasco fits into the rotation isn't as clear when McAllister returns. If Carrasco continues to pitch like yesterday against the Royals, arguments can be made for Kazmir or Ubaldo, but if they can see regression in their luck stats, it may not be an easy choice. It also brings some caution to previous evaluations of McAllister at this time. He may not be as good as he has looked thus far.

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