Need Arms?

We are officially halfway through the 2022 season. All of the teams have played approximately 81 games, so we can say we are headed for home now. Every pitcher alive thinks this season will be his best, and they can’t all be right. I wanted to look at a guy from each team who isn’t having the season he would have hoped. It could be due to injury or just being bad so far this year. National League East: The New York Mets have to be concerned about Carlos Carrasco. He has outpitched his 4.64 ERA, as evidenced by his 3.67 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), but he has to hope the .339 BABIP comes back down in order to be truly effective. For Ian Anderson of the Atlanta Braves, it is really down to improving his 11.0% walk rate. Combine this with a 13.0% home run per fly ball rate and it isn’t hard to see how he has a 4.58 FIP. Another victim of the walks and homers combination is Trevor Rogers of the Miami Marlins. 11.0 walk rate and a 12.7% home run to fly ball rate equal a FIP of 5.56. Bring back the rookie magic. Patrick Corbin isn’t walking anyone, but his 14.1% home run to fly ball rate has to give the Washington Nationals reasons to regret giving him the ball each time through the rotation. I am not sure what the Philadelphia Phillies thought was going to happen when they entrusted a high leverage role to Jeurys Familia. For a guy with a power sinker, a 20.0% home run rate is a problem; it is crazy to see his 4.94 ERA is better than his 5.20 FIP. He has actually been a bit lucky. National League Central: 15 starts for Adrian Houser should be enough to convince the Milwaukee Brewers to reconsider the back of the rotation. his 4.72 ERA is a bit worse than his 4.20 FIP, so he has been a bit unfortunate, but a 17.0% strikeout rate means this will always be a bit of a highwire act. Steven Matz has been hurt and bad for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. His 6.03 ERA is largely due to a 21.1% home run to fly ball ratio. Giving up nearly two homers per nine innings (1.93) won’t work. For the Chicago Cubs, Kyle Hendricks might be drifting into the danger zone. He sports a 4.82 ERA, which is virtually identical to his 4.80 FIP, so is performing as expected. The one thing he can say is he hasn’t gotten hurt, but heaters that average 86.7 MPH become far too hittable. I had high hopes for Mitch Keller of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He shows in glimpses that he could be a quality major league arm. His 4.04 FIP is better than his 5.14 ERA, so the defense hasn’t helped. His stuff should net more than 7.59 strikeouts per nine. Mike Minor has also fallen into the bad and hurt trap for the Cincinnati Reds. He was supposed to bring stability, but a 6.82 ERA based partially on a 20.0% home run rate in only 31.2 innings is far from that. National League West: The Arizona Diamondbacks needed something more from Mark Melancon. The 3.68 FIP means the 5.08 ERA is a bit inflated, not to say the former number is great either. He has a .330 BABIP and only a 13.7% strikeout rate, so all the balls in play allow for too many things to go wrong. Los Angeles Dodgers fans have not loved the Craig Kimbrel roller coaster ride. His 1.98 FIP gives hope that his 4.78 ERA will come down. The .415 BABIP (!) will positively regress, so there will be less angst in LA as the season goes along. Alex Cobb has outpitched his peripherals for the San Francisco Giants to the tune of a 3.13 against a 4.59 ERA. The 61.8% groundball rate is as expected, but the 16.7% home run rate means there is damage once the ball goes into the air. The San Diego Padres have the conundrum named Blake Snell taking the ball every fifth day. His 3.71 FIP suggests the 5.13 ERA will positively regress. The problem with him is a fastball that has been below average. In his 2018 Cy Young season, the fastball had a value of 8.9 runs above average; this year it is -5.8. It is hard to pitch when the fastball is the problem. German Marquez is far from the ace the Colorado Rockies needed. A 5.90 ERA in front of a 5.09 FIP shows this is not by accident. A 19.1% home run rate and .320 BABIP are further proof it is hard to pitch and call Denver home. American League West: I hate to pick on rookies, but the Los Angeles Angels gave Reid Detmers 12 starts, and outside of a fluke no-hitter, he wasn’t ready. The 5.36 FIP shows his 4.66 ERA to be quite lucky. 1.71 homers per nine is too many when he is walking 3.26 over those same frames. Jose Urquidy is one of those pitchers who looks better on the other team. The Houston Astros know his 4.15 ERA is outpacing his 4.76 FIP. his 1.68 homers per nine makes him just about the right-handed version of Reid Detmers. On a rebuilding team, one can pick a problem guy. For the Oakland Athletics, I am going with James Kaprielian for sheer volume. He averages under five innings in his dozen starts. A 5.43 and 5.75 FIP are a good reason why; the 10.4% walk rate compounds the problem. Diego Castillo of the Seattle Mariners has not been the lockdown closer they envisioned when he was acquired. When he has a strand rate of 54.2% it is easy to see why he lost the closer gig. For comparison, Paul Sewald is leaving 88.2% of runners on base. Next man up. The Taylor Hearn project might not be working for the Texas Rangers. The lefty has a 5.86 ERA; a 4.80 FIP; a 10.3% walk rate, and a .338 BABIP. This potent cocktail of wildness combined with bad hit luck has to have the club close to pulling the plug on the experiment. American League Central: How did Aaron Civale get ten starts out of the Cleveland Guardians? His 7.02 ERA compared to a 4.72 FIP is about as wide of a split as I have seen. The .353 will have to regress some, but he is only stranding 55.6% of runners; when they get on, they are scoring. I might have found Civale’s doppelganger on the Kansas City Royals in the form of Kris Bubic. It’s a 7.06 ERA; a 5.31 FIP; a .353 BABAIP, and a 61.8% strand rate. Similar numbers are yielding similar results. The big difference is his 12.6% walk rate. No defense for those. The Detroit Tigers have a unique problem. Their big free agent pitching acquisition simply stopped showing up to work. Eduardo Rodriguez was mediocre this season before picking up a knock in May. He hasn’t come back to the team since. He finds himself on the restricted list and has the club contemplating terminating his contract. Dylan Bundy has been serviceable for the Minnesota Twins, but they need a bit more than that out of a frontline starter. A 4.50 ERA in front of a 4.29 FIP works in the back of the rotation; not the front. He has a low strikeout rate, but other than that he isn’t bad at anything, but he doesn’t have anything to hang his hat on either. Another underperforming number one starter is Lucas Giolito of the Chicago White Sox. He hasn’t kept the ball in the park. A 17.0% homer rate is the foundation of his 4.90 ERA and 4.54 FIP. He is also getting hit hard to the tune of a .349 BABAIP. If he can get his homers allowed under control then he might return to his former level performance. American League East: Jose Berrios has been broken for the Toronto Blue Jays all season. His 5.72 ERA and 5.17 FIP show it isn’t bad luck. 1.84 homers per nine. A .314 BABIP, with a career-low of 7.24  strikeouts per nine due to a fastball being -10.4 above average might mean 2022 is a lost season for him. The Baltimore Orioles have a light at the end of the rebuilding tunnel, but Bruce Zimmerman likely won’t be with the club on the other side. He is the owner of a 5.94 ERA and 5.83 FIP. He is allowing 2.43 homers per nine and a .325 BABIP. The new ball dimensions in Camden Yards couldn’t help him. The Tampa Bay Rays are built on pitching, but even they have a guy having a hard time. Ryan Yarbrough strikes out 12.7% of opposing batters, so a .319 BABIP is especially troubling. Compounding his problem is the fact he is only keeping 34.2% of those balls in play on the ground. This is the main cause of his 5.82 ERA and 5.32 FIP. Matt Barnes has been underwhelmed for the Boston Red Sox this season. The expected closer was bad and then hurt. The 7.94 ERA strains the bounds of credulity, but the 5.29 FIP shows it’s real. A strikeout rate of 17.3% and a walk rate of 14.8% doesn’t work. He has always trended towards being a flyball pitcher, so his career-low 9.1% homer rate will be worth monitoring going forward. The juggernaut that is the New York Yankees have a back-of-the-bullpen concern. Aroldis Champman is another member of the bad and hurt team. His 4.80 ERA is better than his 5.45 FIP, so he has been a bit lucky to only be this bad. He is the rare pitcher who has negative values for all of his pitches: -0.4 on fastballs, -2.0 on sliders, and -0.5 on splitters. What do you throw when this happens? Some of the guys I mentioned might turn things around over the remaining 81 or so games, but some might be lost until 2023. What do you think about the guy from your team?  

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