Indians 2014 preview and predictions: Zach McAllister

Mike Ehrmann

Zach McAllister was overshadowed by fellow pitchers Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar last year, but quietly had a very successful second season. What can we expect from the right-hander in 2014?

This post is part of a contest in which you could win a free Let's Go Tribe t-shirt. In order to enter, just copy and paste the template at the bottom of this post into the comments, then fill in each category with your own prediction for how this player will do in 2014. Position players and pitchers will be featured as two separate contests. You need not submit predictions for every single player in either contest in order to win, but doing so will increase your chances, as points will be awarded separately for each player.

For pitchers, you'll be asked to predict each player's innings (IP), wins (W), ERA, WHIP, strikeout rate (K/9), and walk rate (BB/9). For relief pitchers there will be saves instead of wins.

Find every previous entry in the series here.

The comments on each post in this series will remain open through Saturday, March 29.

Zach McAllister

2013 Recap:

Zach McAllister had a very solid 2013 season, his second complete campaign in the big leagues, and arguably didn't get the credit he deserved. He finished the year with a 3.75 ERA and a league-average 100 ERA+, becoming a reliable presence at the back of the Tribe's rotation. McAllister blossomed into a valuable number four starter for the Indians, despite missing two months during the middle of the season with a finger injury. McAllister's K/9 dropped from 7.9 in 2012 to 6.8 in 2013, and his BB/9 climbed from 2.7 in 2012 to 3.3 in 2013. McAllister's overall performance didn't suffer at all though, and he was much better at keeping the ball in the park: He posted a 1.4 HR/9 in 2012 but managed to drop it to 0.9 in 2013. Zach's raw ability doesn't blow you away like Corey Kluber and he doesn't have overpowering stuff like Danny Salazar, but McAllister still proved to be an effective and successful pitcher, who could potentially contribute to this Indians team for another decade.

Recent stats for McAllister:
Year Age Tm W L ERA GS IP ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2011 23 CLE 0 1 6.11 4 17.2 66 1.868 13.2 0.5 3.6 7.1
2012 24 CLE 6 8 4.24 22 125.1 92 1.364 9.6 1.4 2.7 7.9
2013 25 CLE 9 9 3.75 24 134.1 100 1.362 9.0 0.9 3.3 6.8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com

2014 Preview and Projections:

The 26 year-old right-hander is another year older and another year wiser. Ideally McAllister can take the experience of last year and convert it into an improved 2014. If McAllister can avoid any significant injuries, his total innings should see a significant bump. It's doubtful he'll reach the heights of 200 innings but I'm hopeful he can reach somewhere in the range of 160-180. The projections for McAllister all indicate a degree of decline for his ERA, with Steamer being particularly bearish. However they all predict Zach to drop his BB/9 rate, and his K/9 and WHIP numbers both maintain similar levels to his 2013 output. In that respect I feel McAllister's ERA shouldn't bloat as high as Steamer predicts and will probably settle somewhere in between Oliver and ZiPS's estimates.

Here are a variety of projections for McAllister's 2014 season, all of which are available on his player page at FanGraphs, where you can find more detail, if you're so inclined:

System IP W ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
Steamer 163.0 9 4.62 1.38 6.8 2.9
Oliver 162.0 9 4.12 1.34 6.8 2.8
ZiPS 153.3 8 4.05 1.33 6.6 2.6

My Two Cents:

McAllister doesn't become eligible for free-agency until 2019, so if he can come close to replicating his stats from 2013, the Indians could have a very reliable and steady pitcher to shore up the rear of the rotation for years to come. I would be over the moon if he can stay healthy and pitch 170+ innings but something in my gut tells me he might fall short. I know it's ridiculous to pay too much attention to Spring Training numbers but McAllister's struggles lately are causing me some concern (especially after his 3IP, 9H, 6ER, 3HR performance on Tuesday night against the Giants). I hate to be a pessimist but I'm doubtful his 2014 numbers will top last year's production. I still think Zach will keep up his league-average levels of performance, retaining his value as a number four starter, but I think it's unlikely he'll go another step up the ladder and progress like Kluber and Salazar are scheduled to. Put me down for 170 innings, 10 wins, a 4.18 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6.8 K/9 and a 2.9 BB/9.

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