Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Part III: Starting Rotations

Lets face it, pitching wins championships. The Yankees for the past few years have been plagued by the fact that their best pitcher by far can only pitch about 90 innings a year out of the bullpen. I neeed not mention further that Schilling and Pedro together (with strong work from DLowe) are why the Sox won in 2004, but never before.

Off the bat, there are question marks on both sides. Injuries for one, age for another, and for the Yankees (some inexperience)

Pitching is much harder then hitting to throw raw numbers at. I would submit that wins are not a very good source of a pitchers performance throughout the course of the year. So what are the best numbers to use. I love the splits in batting, so I have tried to come up with one for use in pitching. ERA is OK, but Run average might be better.

Anyone have an opinon on whether it is better to count the unearned runs for a pitchers performance. I am not sure but a two out error to the shortstop followed by two singles and a grand slam counts for 4 unearned runs??

I propose this as a split.


This will take a lot of the randomness out of a season Run Support, parks, errors,

WHIP is in a word pitchers OBP, how many people get on base each inning.

K9: The less an opponent puts it in play the less random events can happen to the piture

And with that away we go.

#1. Schiling V. Johnson

Gotta give it to these guys as the aces. Schiling is coming back from a lost season. His worst since 1989. He is aging so it is very difficult to say if he is declining or last season was due completley to the ankle injury. My guess is both.

Lets look at the career splits for Curt:


For RJ


very slight edge here to Johnson, not enough, in my mind to give a TANC either way. We have to consider other factors however. We can assume the breakdown factor applies equally to both taking in past years experience. Schilling is a few years younger, but we have to assume that both will turn in an equal number of healthy starts for their ball club, otherwise conjecture. However, once we get away from pure numbers we have to look at the intangibles and injury likelihood.

Agree also that both are at the end of their careers in a much tougher American League. Schilling, however, has the experience of 2004 for a recent (how they fair against a tougher lineup.)

So if we count 05 as lost for Schilling, which it was, lets compare Schilling most recent 2004 campaign in the AL with the 05 Johnson AL numbers, and we may get an indication that Johnson may be a bit further down the road then we thought. Keep in mind that this is all relative and the numbers are still good compared to the league.

Shcilling 2004 in BOS: 1.06/8.06/3.26. Amazingly Schill had a higher K9 in 2005
Johnson 2005 in NY: 1.13/8.42/3.79

These are the numbers we go by, down slightly for both in 2006. I love them both in a big game, Schilling a bit more. I think those few extra years in age make a big difference at this point in their careers and I think that Johnson is prone to breaking down on a regular basis, where Schilling could (with no major injuries) remain durable for reasons of pitching mechanics.

Johnson is constantly huring his back with his sling shot delivery. After so many innings and so many years that is exspected. Schilling comes from the Clemans ilk of using your legs to genetate a bulk of the power behind his pitches. The legs will break down less than the arms of back. (Yes, I remember the ankle) Again we assume GOING INTO the season both are healthy, who is more prone to miss starts? To me Johnson. Thats huge.

Schilling: +1

#2. Beckett v. Moose

Speaking of injury prone. Here we go again. Beckett loves getting blisters. Heres a stat that will certainly make you determine nothing. Since 2002, he has not yet thrown 200 innings BUT each year he throws more. Beckett is young, and his injuries are common but not serious. BUT we get reports of shoulder damage which added G Mota to a deal (no longer with team) So what can we exspect from Beckett. #1 Type Stuff for sure but how much of it?

National League for Beckett: 1.23/8.97/3.46 Again this is the National League. Couple of points non stats related to consider

1. Guy was nails in the 2003 series, great shut down the offense stuff, which is needed in the AL East.

2. He is not at his prime yet, and is finding ways to work through those problems he encounters. So I will assume that his numbers will elevate slightly in 2006 due to the AL, but not as much as usual beacuse he is getting better.

3. The shoulder in my mind almost gives Moose a +1 edge (all things equal) So, we have to consider how does Mussina stack up and can he keep this +1 edge for the "questionable shoulder"

"I hate you Mike Mussina, but I respect the hell out of you" (insert kiss on forehead) How many times will this guy throw 7 no-nit innings against the Red Sox??

All AL for Mussina (thank God) 1.18/7.17/3.64. Excellent numbers for the Moose. But again he has the disadvantage of being older than his competiton. his WHIP the last TWO seasons is up to 1.35+, ERA 4.50+, his Innings Pitched down to about 165+. In my opinion, Beckett has crossed his stats (upwards) with Mussinas (downward) in 2004 and 2005. Beckett is now the better pitcher. Period. But that shoulder bothers me. I reserve the right to make this as much as a plus +2 if Beckett is healthy but for now lets be conservative.

Red Sox +.5

Now the order is subjective and may not matter that much, I will try to stick with last year's rotation dreams as much as possible for these teams.

Here is what we have left to choose from:

Wells Pavano
Wakefield Small
Arroyo Wright
Clement Wang
Pappelbon Chicone

We can't say for certain who will make it into the rotation for either side. I pose this:

Red Sox: Wells, Clement, Wakefield
Yankees: Pavano, Wang, Wright

Clement makes to much to be in the bullpen, Arroyo is the only guy flexible enough of that list to swing, and Papelbon will start and will be great, but not right now. He will be in the bullpen or in Pawtucket

Pavano same as Clement, Small is elated to be in the Big Leagues and will service Papa Joe T. as he pleases. Wright is another free agent head case who I will tell you right now, I will compare to Matt Clement. Wang v Chicone is tough. Wang turned in some solid innings last year, first year success story for the Yanks, Chicone was brilliant down the stretch. I can't see either one being a huge factor in this thing, but I think that Chicone is the seasoned hand and will win the spot. Again this is a coin flip for me, but I look at Wang a bit like Papelbon.

#3. This one is easy for me even though I don't think they are #3 in the rotation, so I will give it here.

Clement v. Wright

They are so similar its scary. National League, no huge success in their carrer, both overpaid, both hit in head with line drives and collapsed after that. But Wright was bad all year. Clement was bad for a half of the year. So here is what I will do to be fair. Wright 2004 numbers with my ALF (American League Factor) and Clement for first half of 2005. This is as good as you are going to get from these guys, and you should not exspect it all year. Clement because he can't Wright becuase he can't and he'll get hurt.

Wright 2004 (NL)...Ok I just looked at the stats. I can't do this Wright had an adnormally great year in 2004. His last full season in the AL prior to 2004 was 1998. and his ERA was 4.50+.

His career ERA is over 5.00+, his WHIP is over 1.50 (even worst last year) and his K9 is 6.60 (4.5 last year)

The Yankees in my estimation would be making a huge mistake in putting him in this spot and not using Wang. (This is getting tough.) I pose this to readers: Will Wright be starting next year. It's him or Wang (they just paid to much to have him in the bullpen, and that is a factor in MLB like it or not.) Wright has to start for that reason and that reason alone, and as much as most Red Sox fans would like to see Clement out of town, Wright was far worse.

So with that tangent I will continue with my Clement numbers.

The guy has two AWFUL months. July 8.88 and Sept 6.00 (including playoffs in Oct.) ERAs

He was fine in August and All Star caliber in the first half, so in this case lets take last years numbers in the AL and move them out. (After trashing Wright I will not just use the first half numbers after all)

1.36/6.88/4.57. Peak of mediocrity all the way around for Clement. Wright is just dreadful though, I still can't get over how abnormal 2004 was. I will grant that 2006 can turn out great for Wright, just like you can grant me that all year Clement may be 1st half 2005 good. But all things being equal:

Red Sox: +1

Wells v. Pavano

I would like to say again how hard this is getting. I almost want to put a zero here, but I learned my lesson after my Clement Wright analysis so I will go through this with zeal and fervor.

Wells, despite his age, is amazingly durable. He will miss a start here and there with a bad back and a bad hangover, but all in all his numbers are consistently the same. He is pretty much the model for a controal pitcher. He makes most of us think that we could go out there and do the same thing he makes it look so easy.

So Wells analysis is easy for me. Lets take 2005, and move it up a bit for age, and the fact that he hates Boston fans and we will come up with what is a reasoable expectation of DWells.

Base on last years numbers and inflated slightly 4.55 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 5.5 K9 are OK.

Note on Wells his career BB9 is 1.87 and includes two years 03 and 04 UNDER 1 walk per 9 innings (unreal)

exspect that to continue certainly. He was great ERA under 4.00 After the AS Break last year and after his injury. He also knows how to pitch with a lead and will give up some runs that mean nothing to the game. He is all about the W. I still like him a lot. He is a Money Ball type pithcer in that he likes quick innings and not walking people. He lets his fielders do the work, but still can get a K with that nasty hook.

So can Pavano compete with this. Last year No, but injuries were a big problem and ruined his season. So, lets look at the 04 numbers (ALF them) and come up with something reasonable for Pavano. He is a lifetime NLer and has to be treated like Javier Vazquez until he can prove otherwise in my mind. He is not as good as Beckett or Burnette (former Marlin teammates)

2004 was his best year, and 2005 was his worst. He only pitched 100 innings in 2005, and had an ERA over 5.00 to boot. There is also talk in Spring Training about him being quite injured again and missing time at the start of the season.

2004 numbers: 1.17/5.63/3.00. I am a big propenent that the National League makes a huge difference. See Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. Their ERAs flipped last year from 2004.


2006: ALF and Injury 1.25/5.63/4.00. This to me is VERY generous and conservative from a Red Sox fan point of view.


#5. Wakefield v. Chicone

Right now if I had to put a figure on this if its Wang my analysis would not falter. Wang and Chicone bring the same thing to the table for me and the Xfactor is Wakefield. To me bothe Wang and Chicone are the "average" through and through. Chicone should not continue what he bought to the table last year for the Yanks.

Wang will level off to an average point too, and has the potential to be much better than that of course. But the league will adjust for this year certainly.

When you look at Wake I have to work hard to take the sentimentality out. In the end Wakefield will gvie you the following.

1. Innings at any point in a game
2. A lot of innings
3. Average ERA, WHIP, and K9
4. Nightmares if you are a cathcer
5. A suprisingly low walk total for a knuckle ball pitcher
6. Streaks of unhittable with streaks of 450 meatballs. Sometimes in the same game, sometimes over several games.
7. A very good back end rotation guy.

I can't put a lot of stock into Chacone and Wang right now.

Jeter is quoted as saying "To us Wakefield is their ace" He always seems to throw gems against the Yankees. Better than any other team.

Red Sox: +1

Red Sox +3.5 here but -3.5. We will get into a discusson in the conclusion about what this all means, and how important the pitching stat is.


At 3/08/2006 03:48:00 PM, Blogger Salinger said...

I think your Johnson vs. Schilling analysis is dead-wrong. I don't see how you can equate one vs. the other when Schilling was a wash last year on injuries, (and we still don't know how he'll bounce back) and both have had comparable careers. I think you have to call this one even, as well as Moose vs. Becket. Other than that, your analysis makes sense.

Red Sox +2

At 3/08/2006 05:48:00 PM, Blogger The Iconoclast said...

Have to disagree Sally. If you get the chance you should compare pics of Schilling this year and those from last year's spring training (Dirtdogs has the pics -- the link's on our sidebar). Because of the foot injury, Schill was more than a little paunchy last year and the extra weight fed into his foot problems. As Fat Bastard so eloquently put it, it's a vicious cycle.

I think Curt's relative youth, better conditioning, and pitching delivery give him a slight edge on this one. If I had to bet money on who would miss more starts this year, I wouldn't hesitate betting on Johnson. If he's healthy, I think it's probably a push. I just don't think that he can stay healthy. As a rule, fat guys are more durable. (trust the expert)

I like the rest of Oc's analysis, but I'd just like to add that I think that Beckett has the potential to blow just about everybody out of the water. The training staff has a history of getting guys through blister problems (D-Lo) and apparently they have this miracle goo that really helps (it's a different one than the one shared betweeen Jeter and A-Rod).

It's pretty funny though how we're all starting to sound like Peter Gammons. If X happens and Y can stay healthy and Z plays to his potential, we might be able to make a run at the playoffs.


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