1) Brian Wilson
2 wins, 3 saves, 7 K’s, 5 IP, 0 R (9 Straight shutout apps)
2) Tom Gorzelanny
2 wins, 15 IP, 10 K’s, 1.20 ERA(2.87 ERA, 0.90 WHIP)
3) Jaime Garcia
1 win, 9 IP, 8 K’s, 0 R, 0.33 WHIP (4-0, 1.99 ERA)
4) David Price
1 win, 8.2 IP, 10 K’s, 0 R, 0.46 WHIP (3.26 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)
5) Tim Hudson
1 win, 9 IP, 6 K’s, 0 R, 0.22 WHIP (2.86 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)
As far as the historic performances, have some more confidence in Francisco Liriano and Yovani Gallardo, they are good pitchers off to bad starts. Justin Verlander is an absolute star and that’s why he was often my top pitcher in fantasy drafts.
by Eno Sarris //
The science surrounding young pitchers has never been set in stone. It’s come a long way since Rany Jazayerli first debuted Pitcher Abuse Points in 1998. The “discovery” that there was such a thing as too many pitches for a young pitcher then led to some new ways of thinking about young pitchers, pitch counts, and innings limits. Tom Verducci furthered the research with his own findings, called the Verducci Effect, that young starters that jumped more than 30 innings from year to year were more likely to end up injured.
Of course it’s not really that easy to just slap the 30-inning-increase limit on a young starter, especially when a team is in contention and under to pressure to win now. Plus, more rigorous research has not found such a hard cap to be completely useful for all pitchers. All innings are not created equal. More advanced studies look into pitches per inning and what types of pitches are more responsible for arm stress than others. The soft cap that many use in baseball is about 125% of the previous year’s innings total, but that number is more of a general benchmark than one that has the power of multiple research findings behind it.
The case of Stephen Strasburg offers a teaching moment. The upside of a pitcher like Strasburg made him a mid-round fantasy pick with the potential to return early-round value…provided he could put together enough major league innings. That was up for debate as his innings limits were reported to be around 140 to 150 IP – but no hard cap was reported in the media. Then this weekend, Strasburg grabbed his elbow and called the trainer to the mound, and his owners joined Nationals fans in a collective gasp.
What Strasburg teaches us is not necessarily that young pitchers are more likely to hit the disabled list with elbow injuries. Rather, it’s
that young pitchers are less likely to amass critical innings in the latter half of the season. Whether from a cap or from injury, they are just more likely to have their rotation spot skipped late in the year, or to be shut down completely.
Consider all the pitchers that have had the shutdown rumor associated into their name so far this year. Jaime Garcia, Mat Latos, Jonathon Niese, Mike Leake, Mike Minor and Strasburg himself have all been the object of innings-limits speculation from their front offices and the media alike. All of these men are good young pitchers that are vital to their fantasy teams. Jeremy Hellickson dominated in his first four big league starts. For his efforts, he got sent back to A-ball. The best-case scenario for fantasy owners the rest of this season is that he get recalled for a few September innings of middle relief.
Garcia has 141.1 innings already, and his career high came in A-ball with 155 innings. He might be good for another 25 innings by that measure, but it’s complicated by his Tommy John surgery last year, and subsequent 33.2 innings pitched. His manager specifically said that the team was not going to limit its excellent young starter, but he also used 175 innings in his statement. With the Cards in the race (52% chance of making the playoffs according to Baseball Prospectus and their playoff odds), they’ll probably push the limit with Garcia.
Latos, on the other hand, is on a Padres team that is 95% likely to make the postseason, and they’ll need him in October. At 142.2 IP, he’s already well past last year’s 123 IP total and just a couple starts away from a soft cap situation. Since the Padres are far enough ahead, expect to see his starts skipped often down the stretch. Minor, on a Braves team with a 92% chance of making the playoffs, has already had his starts skipped. His 138.1 innings so far this year are well beyond the 110.2 innings he accumulated at Vanderbilt in 2009.
Leake and Niese are more likely to be shut down. Leake racked up 161 IP between Arizona State and the Arizona Fall League last year, but with his recent struggles the team demoted him to the bullpen at 138 innings anyway. The Mets have already openly contemplated shutting him down. They also have a 0.5% chance of making the playoffs, meaning there’s no point risking it with their young right-hander.
Innings caps are no reason to avoid young pitchers altogether, but they do represent another risk that isn’t inherent with veteran pitchers. Next year, when it comes time to decide between two pitchers of similar ilk, it’s worth giving the veteran a slight nudge forward if late-year innings will be crucial for your team. And if you reach the All-Star break with a hot hand like Strasburg or Leake in your fantasy rotation, start aggressively shopping him for a trade.
For more on Stephen Strasburg, Jaime Garcia, Mat Latos and other young pitchers, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.
By Tommy Rancel //
We continue to put the emphasis on understanding small sample sizes
in the early stages for the season. This is especially true for a
veteran player who has a career worth of data suggesting otherwise. On
the other hand, for a younger player the small sample could be a
prequel of things to come, most notably in situations in which the
young player is exhibiting skills carried over from the minor leagues.
One young pitcher hoping to continue his small sample size success is Jaime Garcia of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 22nd-round draft pick of the Cardinals in the 2005 draft, Garcia
cracked the team’s rotation this spring. After missing most of 2008 and
2009 with Tommy John surgery, the 23-year-old lefty is 1-0 with an 0.69
ERA after two turns through the rotation. Garcia’s performance will
surely normalize. Still, there is a lot about Garcia’s game and the
situation he is in with the Cardinals.
The most notable skill
Garcia possesses in the ability to get groundballs. In nearly 400
cumulative innings in the minor leagues, Garcia’s ground ball rate was
a fantastic 58.7%. In fact, 60% of the balls hit by right-hander
hitters off Garcia in the minors stayed on the ground. Groundballs are
great – especially for a starting pitcher – because at worst they
surrender a single, and never go for a home run.
In his brief
major league career, Garcia has carried over this ability. On the young
season, he has a 69.7% groundball rate. Working with Dave Duncan, one
of the game’s best pitching coaches and noted groundball enthusiast,
should only help Garcia maintain an above-average ground ball rate. To
date, the Duncan-led staff has the highest GB% (50.9) of any team in
the majors. We recently profiled Duncan’s effect on Brad Penny.
Thanks to his groundball ways, Garcia has been able to keep the ball
in the park. In 394.1 innings in the minor leagues, he allowed just 29
balls to leave the park. That translates into a wonderful home run per
nine (HR/9) rate of 0.63. He has not allowed a home run in 13 innings
so far this year, and his groundball tendency should limit the amount
of home runs given up over the course of the year.
addition to the stellar groundball and home run rates, Garcia has
exhibited good control throughout his professional career. In the minor
leagues his strikeouts per nine (K/9) was a healthy 8.3, while
maintaining a manageable 3.0 walks per nine (BB/9). Those numbers have
regressed slightly at the highest level, but nothing considered drastic.
to sound like a broken record, but understanding small sample sizes
can’t be stressed enough. However, in certain cases, and even more so
for younger players, they shouldn’t be ignored completely. For example,
Garcia is a much better choice than Livan Hernandez.
Despite the small sample on both, Hernandez has proven below average
for the past few years and likely will regress towards the same level
Currently, Garcia is an unknown commodity. But if he adds another
win in his next start he will start to gain notoriety. That said, feel
free to add Garcia right now in deeper mixed league or NL-only formats.
For more on Jaime Garcia and young players off to hot starts check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.