Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Pitching Profile - August Edition

Just like we did at the end of May, and at the end of June (sorry about the end of July) - Here is the latest extensive look at the Rangers starting rotation. The point of this exercise is to dig a bit deeper than the basic stats for each starting pitcher to see what they are good at - or what they are not good at.

In the 129 games that were played before the calendar turned to September, 9 pitchers have started games for the Rangers. Kevin Millwood (26), Scott Feldman (24), Derek Holland (16), Tommy Hunter (12), Matt Harrison (11), Brandon McCarthy (11), Dustin Nippert (7), Kris Benson (2), and Doug Mathis (2). This study will focus on the six pitchers who have made at least 10 starts. The other 3 run into sample size issues that might render verdicts a bit meaningless.

Proceed at your own risk - for stat nerds only:

Just so we are all up to speed with the different stats, IPS is Innings Per Start and PPS is Pitches Per Start. Everything else will be metrics that I am sure you are familiar with.

Before you start, we need to establish league averages for the stats so you understand what consitutes "league average". So, here you go:

ERA - AL Average is 4.46
AVG - AL Average is .265
OBP - AL Average is .333
SLG - AL Average is .426
K/9 - AL Average is 6.87
BB/9 - AL Average is 3.37
HR/9 - AL Average is 1.13
WHIP - AL Average is 1.40

Kevin Millwood Splits


Table Tutorial

Is your Millwood cup half-full or half-empty? If you are a positive person, you can say that he has easily been the Rangers most durable and dependable starter. If you are a negative person, you can easily suggest that July and August have been his two weakest months - and the results are not even close. With just 3 Quality starts since July 1, and the league slugging .475 off him in those two months, it is fair to say Millwood has gone from dominating early, to "below average" late.

Still, all in all, 32 starts - 200+ innings, and an ERA under 4? I think 2009 for Kevin Millwood has been absolutely acceptable.

Scott Feldman Splits


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You would lose a lot of money betting against Scott Feldman. He has been such a riduclous story of success that it is almost difficult to pour over the numbers. His Avg/OBP/Slug splits are all well below league averages. I cannot remember a Ranger pitcher that can say that in recent years. His WHIP has been low all season long and although his walks are slowly rising, they are still plenty low.

One curious point of Feldman is his K/9 rate in August. Given my obsession on the topic on July 29, it is amazing that he doubled his K rate in August. Is it a anamoly? Is it proof Feldman reads Inside Corner? Whatever the case, suddenly, he strikes guys out.

Since becoming a starter, Feldman has not had a month of fewer than 3 Quality Starts. Simply put, Scott Feldman has been unreal. All year.

Vicente Padilla Splits


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And so, the Vicente Padilla era ends in Texas. Moments of brilliance early in the season, but like Millwood, it appears that as the season developed, Padilla's best moments were fewer and further between. Only 24 innings since July 1, and in those games the league was hitting .320 off of him.

I believe they suggest that you can grow fungus on your shower shoes if you can win 20 in the show. But, if the league is hitting .320 off of you, you better be a good teammate.

Derek Holland As A Starter


Table Tutorial

Please keep in mind, all of these Holland numbers are as a starter-only. He has had a rough go of things, with 4 Quality Starts in 16 tries. His K/9 Rate is out of this world but so is his HR/9 Rate.

He clearly has learned some tough lessons this year. He has shown flashes, but to simply claim it is a young pitcher learning the ropes is partly true - but it also ignores Tommy Hunter's year.

Tommy Hunter Splits


Table Tutorial

The Tommy Hunter numbers do not include his first 2 starts in June, but the numbers are shocking all around. Hunter has simply exceeded expectations on every level and every stat. He allows no runners, no home runs, no extra base hits, no nothing. He works into the 7th inning. He has given the Rangers 70 innings already and has almost no disaster starts.

If Feldman has been the biggest surprise, then Hunter is right behind him. As Holland and Feliz steal the headlines, Tommy Hunter is knocking them dead without a ton of fanfare. He has really been good.

Brandon McCarthy Splits


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McCarthy's start last night did not make the August sample, so check back next month to see how his return went.

Matt Harrison Splits


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Harrison has been shut down for the year. His 2009 will not be long remembered.

Starting Rotation Totals


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In June, I wrote this:
Only 3 teams in the major leagues (Balt, Wash, Pitt) have fewer strikeouts from their rotations, but only 1 team is getting more pitches (Boston) per start from that same rotation. The Rangers starters are giving their team 6 innings and 99.3 pitcher per start and a Quality Start on 47% of their occasions. This is keeping the bullpen reasonably fresh, and the team is staying quite competitive.

The Rangers are ranked 12th in MLB and 6th in the American League right now in Innings Pitched by its Starting Rotation. The Rangers are getting Quality Starts on 45% of their opportunities. The Rangers are 21st in the MLB in this category. But, the most remarkable number on September 1st? With a Staff ERA of 4.40, only 3 American League teams have better starting rotation ERA; Seattle (4.04), Detroit (4.29), and Chicago (4.33). 4th in the American League? Believe it. It is true.

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