Welcome back to the Casual Sabermetrician. It’s hard to believe, but after this weekend we’ll be at the Quarter poll of the season with all teams playing around 40 games and most (healthy) starting pitchers having made 8 starts out of their 32-33 for the year. This affords us a great excuse to look back on our pre-season exercise of looking at tERA vs. ERA to find out which pitchers are pitching above their heads and which have been unlucky so far. For fantasy purposes this translates to who we can sell high on and conversely who we might be able to buy low on.
Again, our method involves extracting tERA and ERA stats from Fangraphs into a spreadsheet and creating a formula to view tERA-ERA. They already have this for ERA-FIP, I would imagine them adding ERA-xFIP and ERA-tERA in the near future as I believe these are a much more telling stat when evaluating who is do for regression.
“The Unlucky aka Buy Low”:
Note: I’ve left out pitchers whose tERAs are above 4.00 and focused on those whose other peripherals point to a 2nd half turnaround.
Jordan Zimmermann, 4.13/2.56/1.57
Daniel Hudson, 4.41/2.87/1.54
Matt Garza, 4.17/2.75/1.42
Cliff Lee, 3.78/2.90/0.88
Fausto Carmona, 3.83/2.96/0.87
Jason Vargas, 3.86/3.31/0.55
Derek Lowe, 3.73/3.23/0.50
“The Lucky aka Sell High”:
Note: I’ve left out most pitchers with ERA’s over 3.00 and focus on those off to hot starts that could be due for a negative regression over the course of the season.
Alexi Ogando, 2.17/5.03/-2.86
Josh Tomlin, 2.70/5.51/-2.81
Tyler Chatwood, 3.67/5.88/-2.21
Jhoulys Chacin, 2.68/4.75/-2.07
Trevor Cahill, 1.72/3.36/-1.64
Zach Britton, 2.42/3.71/-1.29
James Shields, 2.08/3.34/-1.26
Kyle Lohse, 2.24/3.41/-1.17
Josh Beckett, 1.99/3.15/-1.16
Interestingly there are far far more “Lucky” pitchers than “Unlucky” which speaks to the old notion that pitchers are ahead of hitters in the early part of the season but it also speaks to luck in a smaller sample size. There are 20 pitchers with a 0.50 or higher ERA-tERA while there are 44 with a -0.50 or lower.
Now let’s analyze the above starting with the “Unlucky.” The guys that pop out to me are Matt Garza and Cliff Lee – both of whom are pitching far better than their standard stats would indicate. Garza leads MLB in K/9 at 11.78, Lee isn’t far behind at 11.01. Both have incredibly high BABIPs (Garza: .382!, Lee: .348) that are obviously contributing to their early season bad luck as is Lee’s major lack of run support from the Phillies offense. Lee also leads MLB in K/BB at a ridiculous 9.14. Jordan Zimmermann tops our chart and might be the easiest to obtain either off the waiver wire or from a frustrated owner (I just did). He’s not inducing the GB% he has in the past and his K/9 rate of 6.56 is far below what he showed in the minors and his earlier MLB career. But they are starting to come now as evidenced by his 11 K outburst in his last start and 17 in his last 12IP. Daniel Hudson is yet another high K%, high BABIP guy that I like to come back strong over the rest of the season. He consistently K’d over 10/9 in the minors.
And now to the “Lucky” fellas. Ogando and Tomlin have been the hot names in young emerging SPs and if you own them you should be shopping them now for the best deal you can get. Here’s why; they both have sub .200 BABIPs (.179 and .183 respectively) and neither are striking enough guys out. Tomlin is not a big K guy for his career but Ogando showed he was capable of striking out over 1 per IP. Ogando’s velocity is a little down on his fastball and he relies on it far too much as he is basically a 2 pitch pitcher. Trevor Cahill is on our lucky list again – but he’s Irish so maybe it’s just in his blood. Cahill is 4th among starters in K/BB at 2.81 which isn’t a good place to be and his BABIP continues to be well below league average at .257. James Shields was among our unluckiest last year and he has regressed way past the mean to the lucky side. Besides his .245 WHIP, his peripherals look good as he is 13th in K/BB at 3.92 and is keeping the ball down upping his GB/FB to 1.33, he’ll regress but maybe not as much as the others.
Speaking of regression – Clay Bucholz was our poster child for it coming into the year and he certainly has to the tune of a 4.19 ERA that could get even worse when you look at his 5.05 tERA, ouch, hope you didn’t reach for him in your draft. Justin Masterson and Chris Narveson have bounced back positively this year as we expected.