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Thread: The Pitchers - Pittsburgh Pirates 2010 Predictions

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    Default The Pitchers - Pittsburgh Pirates 2010 Predictions

    Predicting the 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates Pitchers
    by Kipper

    [IMGL][/IMGL]Some will tell you that pitching is the most important part to a Baseball team. It is the equivalent of "defense" in Football. Pitching is your biggest and best ways to prevent runs. Here I'm going to try and take a stab at the Pitching Staff with some predictions that should be used more for fun than anything else.

    As it is with making Predictions, so many things come into affect that Statistics don't figure for and are even more difficult for us fans to figure for too. Each person when they figure out predictions have specific things that they rely on heavily, or favorite more than others. Some people will look a wide array of numbers, some will concentrate on a few. Your Bob Smizik's will put in about 2 minutes worth of research and work ... It goes on and on. the bottom line is that there's no good answer but it's always fun to take a look and see what results we can all figure out.

    The Starting Rotation

    1. Maholm - 4.07 ERA | 1.36 WHIP | 5.8 K/9 | 2.8 BB/9

    One of the biggest problems to me that fans and media guys have with predictions is that they often look at a small sampling size and use that as the majority of their basis for their predictions. With players that don't have a lot of experience and statistical evidence to pull from, this is fine, when it comes to guys like Paul Maholm, you have 4 full seasons worth of Starting Pitching statistics to sift through. You also have varying defensive teams that have played behind him as well.

    To me, Paul hasn't shown that he's ever been as good as he was in 2008 at any other point in his career. Too many people are using those numbers as an expectation for Maholm and I think they are far too high. His numbers through his career suggest that those 2008 stats are on the Fluke side for whatever reason. Paul had some issues last year that contributed to the numbers he put up but I don't think we should expect a lot more out of Maholm than what his career averages are.

    Now, another factor I place on Maholm was his age. He is 28 years old at the prime of his career and things click at this age. There's the possibility he could string out a 2008 type season. To figure out Maholm I used a combination of his 2008 and 2009 seasons because they used more of his prime years where he had matured more and gained more experience to determine my predictions.

    Paul Maholm also appears to be a pitcher that isn't as affected by the defense behind him as others. He put up his best career stats behind a bad Pirates defense (2008 defense) and struggled last year in May and June while the Pirates defense still had Nyjer Morgan, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez and Adam Laroche.

    2. Duke - 4.40 ERA | 1.42 WHIP | 4.4 K/9 | 2.2 BB/9

    Zach Duke is too defensively reliant. That's the main problem with Zach Duke. You look at his numbers last season when he put up strong first half numbers and he was getting excellent Outfield Defensive numbers with Moss in RF and Morgan in LF and even an improved McLouth over 2008 (using UZR). Jack Wilson was playing the best defense of his career when he was in the lineup. The 2009 first half Pirates was perhaps one of the better defensive teams we've seen in a while and a pure contact pitcher like Zack Duke ate that up. His numbers show it. His numbers slipped in the 2nd half last season basically because of the trades and the defense behind him got worse.

    I am not suggesting that the Pirates defense now resembles the poor 2008 Pirates defense, just that Zach Duke really needs an exceptionally strong defense behind him and one that is merely slightly above average as a whole like the 2010 defense predicts to be isn't going to be a big aid to Duke's numbers.

    When you look at the 2nd half numbers for Duke his BABIP and H/9 really increase which take the toll on his ERA and WHIP. His BB and K numbers never really changed which suggests that the big difference with Duke's first and second half splits was the defense behind him. Perhaps some bad luck can be throw in there, perhaps Duke was more hittable, but to me a higher H/9 with BB and K numbers remaining similar suggests a defense letting more balls through.

    I don't expect as poor of a showing as his 2nd half numbers from last year showed but I don't see Duke achieving some of those 2009 Final season result numbers simply because I don't see him having a string of months like he did to start off 2009 in 2010.

    I used too many things to explain how I came to my conclusions for Duke. He is a guy hitting the Prime of his career like Paul Maholm and a big thing with Duke is command as well. He could easily eclipse my prediction, I just don't see him hitting the 1.31 WHIP and a sub 4 ERA

    3. Ohlendorf - 3.10 ERA | 1.30 WHIP | 6.4 K/9 | 3.1 BB/9

    The first thing people are saying is "There's no chance in hell of Ross Ohlendorf achieving those numbers". When I figured them out, I said the same thing. Amazingly I took into account slumps and those occasional awful performances that bloat stats and make numbers look worse than the pitcher actually performed.

    Ross Ohlendorf is intriguing. I've read ZIPS and Pecota etc.. and the biggest issue I see with pretty much everyone predicting Ohlendorf's numbers is that his earlier season numbers are used too much for my liking. Ross really went through a full developmental season last year. Pitching Coach Joe Kerrigan really worked closely with Ohlendorf and had him alter a lot through periods of the season. Ohlendorf's velocity slipped earlier in the season as Kerrigan stressed control and command. By the 2nd half of the season, a new wind up brought back the velocity with the command and control being maintained. This is far too critical in evaluating Ross in my opinion to the point where I really focused mainly on his July-Sept numbers since he'll be using this mentality and windup for 2010.

    Ohlendorf also improved across the board pitching last season as the defense went from great to good. His individual numbers improved (K/9 BB/9) while his H/9 stayed down low and his HR/9 remained the same. Ross's K/9 really went up in August and September which cut down his reliance on the defense for outs which logically leads to a lower Batting Average Against.

    The great thing about stats is that there are so many stats in general and they all give you an end result. Many people analyze stats too much, staring at them until their eyes force the brain to turn them into what they want them to say. When it comes to pitching, there's really only so many important numbers ; Hits, Strike Outs, Bases On Balls, Earned Run Average and Defense. Stats like FIP, BABIP, BAA etc.. all come from the basic numbers indicated. It's really surprised me how I've seen Ohlendorf's BABIP over analyzed to the point where his basic numbers and splits were completely ignored.

    4. Morton - 3.65 ERA | 1.37 WHIP | 6.2 K/9 | 3.6 BB/9

    Charlie Morton is tough to figure out. Basically I eliminated his 10 run game against the Chicago Cubs last August to determine guesstimates for him. His numbers could be better than this if Kerrigan comes through like he did with Ohlendorf in 2009. The K/9 should increase while the BB/9 should decrease with experience and comfort. A lower BB/9 will help out the WHIP numbers and of course better BB and K numbers will help out stats such as FIP too.

    The most difficult thing with Charlie Morton is really his lack of MLB experience. I don't want to look much at his Minor League numbers. Those give you an idea of potential and most know that Charlie Morton has #2 potential. His "stuff" has been talked about since he came over in the Nate McLouth trade. It might be generic but my prediction for Morton was simply going on his numbers once that 10 run cubs game was eliminated and making slight adjustments overall. At this point, Morton could exceed my fairly safe prediction. Morton could bomb too.

    5. Daniel McCutchen - 4.02 ERA | 1.33 WHIP | 5.2 K/9 | 2.1 BB/9

    Daniel McCutchen is very similar in predicting as Charlie Morton is. There's not really enough to go by and you can only use Minor League numbers as a guide and idea for potential. The trick is figuring out how it translates to the Big Leagues. Unlike Morton however, I don't see the Pirates altering much of anything with Daniel McCutchen because there's not much to work on. McCutchen is already a good control pitcher and eh showcased that in his short September stint last season with the Pirates. Out of Ohlendorf, Morton and McCutchen, McCutchen has the far superior command while lacking in overall "stuff". However as we have all seen sometimes strong "command" is better than someone with "stuff" that they can't control.

    Daniel McCutchen on paper looks like a right handed Paul Maholm at the top of the numbers list. Below Average K/9, strong command/low BB/9 numbers and a H/9 in the 9's. If you want to look at McCutchen's Minor League numbers, they aren't too far off predictions.

    What we can expect for Daniel McCutchen is a guy that doesn't walk many batters, has the potential for a K/9 in the 6's who gives up a lot of hits. The key however is that McCutchen doesn't give batters free bases and he is near 50/50 GB/FB pitcher. SS and 1B are question marks defensively for the Pirates but the OF should be pretty sound above average all together (If Jones can put up better UZR numbers this year in RF). That could help out McCutchen more than say Zach Duke who is more of a Ground Ball pitcher (although that number slid last year).

    To figure out Daniel McCutchen I simply looked at his numbers last year, figured his H/9 to be about the same (slightly more), decreased his BB/9 which I think was a little higher due to the inexperience than what we should expect. I raised the K/9 slightly to offset the lowered BB/9. Daniel McCutchen throughout his entire Minor League career had very low WHIP numbers. I see no reason for that not to translate to the MLB especially with a strong 1.34 showing last season. As with Charlie Morton, I'm playing it safe with McCutchen. He could exceed, he could bomb. However he does have the potential in my opinion to reach these numbers. Those are fairly good #5 numbers for the Pirates standards.

    The Relief Pitchers / Bullpen

    1. Octavio Dotel - 3.66 ERA | 1.33 WHIP | 11.74 K/9 | 3.50 BB/9

    After spending the past few seasons in more of a set up role, Dotel is returning full time as a closer late in his career )36 years old. In 2007 he made 11 saves and prior to that you have to go back 6 years to 2004 where Dotel saved an impressive 36 games. He was also around 30-31 of age at the time.

    What Dotel brings is basically the complete opposite pedigree of Matt Capps. Dotel has a very high K/9 rate and he also has a lack of command. What works for Dotel is that his high K/9 rate allows for Dotel to bail himself out. Something an erratic Matt Capps couldn't do with his below average K/9 numbers. With a guy like Dotel, it is really difficult to make predictions because his career is quite extensive, he's old and he's been used in various ways.

    To figure out numbers for Dotel I focused in on his past 3 years. The guy is older, it's tough to really compare him to when he was in his 20's and expect that type of production. With that said, I also looked at his numbers on a game by game basis in 2004 and 2007 to get results from when he was closing or in a closers position. I put it all in a blender where the results are a piece of scratch paper that would look like scribble to most. I want to point out that Dotel could easier exceed these numbers. It's been a good while since he's been the main closer and closing is mentally different than setting up.

    2. Brenden Donnelly - 3.71 ERA | 1.30 WHIP | 7.92 K/9 | 2.99 BB/9

    If we thought Octavio Dotel was old, Brenden Donnelly is even older. It appears that he's brought some nice veteran type leadership to the locker room listening to his interviews and such. Still, the guy is old and despite a nice line of numbers last season, he only pitched 25.1 Innings. That's not really a large sample size. 2008 and 2007 Donnelly bounced from the minors to majors.

    What you can expect from Brendan Donelly is an average K/9 rate and an average K/9 rate. He's not completely dependent on defense He doesn't give up the long ball and his Fly Ball, Ground Ball and Line Drive numbers are fairly even. The issue with Donnelly is going to be his health more than his production. We should expect good results from Donnelly but if he gets hurt he'll likely turn into a liability.

    3. Evan Meek - 3.04 ERA | 1.42 WHIP | 8.71 K/9 | 4.02 BB/9

    Meek is an intriguing guy. The guy has a strong arm, he claims he can touch 99mph, he's young, has a nice K/9 rate and most importantly is that whether he is healthy or is hurting, teams didn't hit much off of him at all in 2009. The issue with Meek is his control. He's a guy that is he could shave that albatross of a BB/9 down in half, the kid could be really dangerous. He has above average K/9 ability, he's just someone that is learning how to control his pitches.

    It was really a lot of guessing and hoping to figure out Meek. I looked at his numbers, looked at them earlier on in the season, looked at them riding up to when he went down with an injury. I looked at his improvements from 2008 to 2009 and figure that the kid is likely to improve this year as well. I like Evan Meek personally, so there's the hope part shining through.

    4. Javier Lopez - 3.01 ERA | 1.36 WHIP | 5.8 K/9 | 4.1 BB/9

    Lopez had a troubling season in 2009. He had an injury, spent time in the minors. It was real easy to want to throw out Lopez's 2009 numbers since he appears healthy and really focus on hias 2008 and 2007 numbers where he was at least putting up 40 IP.

    What's interesting about Lopez is that his K/9 is below average, his BB/9 is high, he has perhaps the highest GB/FB ratio on the team but he keeps his ERA down. We're talking about a guy that knows how to get out of jams, possibly force Double Plays. The guy is a Ground Ball pitcher and has good H/9 rates (hits per 9 Innings Pitched) which keeps his WHIP down. Teams don't hit off of him.

    Like I explained, I focused heavily on Lopez's 2007 and 2008 numbers. I sprinkled in some of 2009 but didn't want to go back too much further since he hadn't produced a healthy season since 2004 (40 IP or more was the criteria I used for Lopez). Lopez unfortunately spent some of his prime years injured. 2007-2008's results were in his prime years surrounded by injury.

    5. Joel Hanrahan - 4.09 ERA | 1.48 WHIP | 10.1 K/9 | 5.3 BB/9

    Hanrahan is a tale of the splits. His splits from when he was in Washington and when he was in Pittsburgh last year are astonishing. So astonishing that it really makes you question what is real and what isn't. He pitched nearly the same amount of innings between the 2 teams, same amount of games and registered a split of 7.71 ERA with Washington to 1.72 ERA with the Pirates. The goal is to really find a happy medium and try to make sense out of splits like that, although that's probably unlikely.

    Hanrahan's control actually got worse in Pittsburgh. He went from a 3.9 BB/9 to a 5.7 BB/9. Hanrahan has always had the pitches and ability to get guys out on his own if need be as evidenced by his high K/9 rate. That's valuable. When Hanrahan gets hit though, the ball flies off the bat with authority. Hanrahan is a guy that needs good defense behind him because he has a slightly high Line Drive Rate. It also helps to have a good coach making the position adjustments on the field too. That can help a guy like Hanrahan.Having a better defense behind him in Pittsburgh likely helped but this is where some other stats can come in handy.

    One thing that sticks out with Hanrahan is that his ERA was very low, his control wasn't great, his BABIP was high and his Bating Average Against numbers were low. There was either some luck coming into play with Joel or he found a way to master pitching with runners on and in scoring position.

    6. D.J. Carrasco - 3.80 ERA | 1.34 WHIP | 6.2 K/9 | 3.1 BB/9

    If you look quickly at D.J. Carrasco's numbers, and look at his career averages you'd probably think "eh, whatever". A closer look at his numbers shows a pitcher that actually appears to have gotten better his past 2 seasons as he entered his 30's age wise. the main difference I see with Carrasco is that his control and command have improved. His K/9 numbers have never been great enough to be a difference maker and his H/9 numbers while be respectable are pretty similar for his career outside of a very low 7.0 H/9 result in 2008). Carrasco simply seems to have learned the one important thing that age and experience provides for pitchers in that he's learned how to strategically pitch and get the most out of his abilities.

    I checked out Carrasco's RISP splits to see how he did with runners in scoring position and it wasn't great. Actually his numbers with runners on base weren't great outside of how he performed with RISP with 2 outs but somehow manages to get it done when it is needed. Get that 1 out when he allows a baser runner or 2 on. It's easy to inflate RISP and Runners On Base numbers and maintain a decent ERA.

    For D.J. Carrasco I focused in on his 2008 and 2009 seasons. As you've been able to tell, I like to focus on recent seasons if possible because age and experience and injuries and a lot of variables can alter results. I also won't throw away other numbers either. I definitely look for trends over a career and will dive into game logs and look at situational results and other variables. I did all of these things but the end results for D.J. Carrasco really reflected more on his past 2 seasons which hopefully happens.

    7. Jack Taschner - 4.89 ERA | 1.82 WHIP | 6.5 K/9 | 4.8 BB/9

    Taschner is an example of someone being brought in along with others for a wide open spot and getting the results in Spring Training at a time when cuts were made to make the team. Jack Taschner really isn't that good though. He has poor control, gives up a ton of hits, he has average at best K/9 rates.. I don't expect much from Taschner. Like most consider #5 starters, these last Bullpen guys are generally interchangeable types. Generally fringe players.

    Looking at Taschner's numbers, the goal for him is to keep his BB/9 numbers as low as he can. His H/9 numbers will remain high, so will his BB/9 numbers but his end result numbers (ERA) seem to be their best when his BB numbers are low and his H/9 numbers stay at their norm in the 10 range. I'm not sure if a high 4 ERA is desirable but the Pirates have a lot of guys for this position and like I said, it could be a revolving door like it usually is.


    I'm not going to to discuss any of the other pitchers and really wasn't considering doing Jack Taschner either. this could be a revolving door of guys by the season ends for a spot or 2. With Hanrahan starting the season out on the DL that means someone else is going to have his spot for a week or 2 and then go down to the minors.
    Last edited by Kipper; Apr-16-2010 at 12:55 AM.
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