11 February 2007

Braving the rapids -- the Royals' '07 pitching PECOTAs

I ran down KC's position PECOTA rankings Friday and figured I'd take the time now to go over the team PECOTA projections on the mound. Going by the starting pitching performances of the recent past in KC, I can't say the idea of looking at the projections is exactly appetizing but it needs to be done. It could be a pleasant surprise but it could also be like passing a brutal car wreck -- a feeling of horror but inability to look away. I'll break it down into starters, relievers and the current farm guys. Again, these are the weighted mean projections from Baseball Prospectus and PECOTA guru Nate Silver -- an average projection that could be low or could be high.


Gil Meche, predicted 25 starts, 7-10 record, 5.34 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 100 Ks, and a .315 BABIP (that's batting average on balls put into play by batters -- takes defensive support into consideration) in 140 IP. Wow, not pretty, especially if you have to write an $11 million check to that guy. The numbers don't get any better in the five-year projection. For '07, he compares most to the '90 Kevin Gross and the '00 James Baldwin. This isn't getting any better. I would think all Royals fans are hoping for more from Meche and I'm among those that think he'll do better. I don't think he'll be an ace type but I can see an ERA around 5 with a WHIP closer to 1.30 and a lower BABIP in more IP. Dayton Moore will be hearing it from the KC media if the projected numbers pan out.

Odalis Perez, predicted 34 games (only 17 starts for some reason), 6-8 record, 4.78 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 71 Ks and a .310 BABIP in 121 IP. Perez would have to pitch crappier than this to get bumped from the rotation, I figure. I don't see his WHIP number being that high but he is pitching in a tough AL. I surmise he can get back to what he showed in the seasons prior to '06 and post a WHIP more in the 1.20 range with an ERA closer to 4.00. Some of that, for the whole staff, may be getting some solid middle infield defense in place. Berroa's a liability and Grudzielanek isn't getting any younger.

Zack Greinke, predicted 19 starts, 6-9 record, 5.27 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 83 Ks and a .302 BABIP in 130 IP. This also factors in some relief appearances. I went ahead and lumped Greinke in with the MLB starters even though he may end up at Omaha for half the season. This looks like pre-'06 headtrip Zack. I can see better out of Greinke this season but I don't think I'll go as far as to lean that way. All Royals fans would like to see Greinke living up to his potential, and hopefully '07 is a step in that direction.

Luke Hudson, predicted 31 games (11 starts), 4-5 record, 5.10 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 48 Ks and a .301 BABIP in 78 IP. Hudson had his bright moments in '06 along with some bad ones (the 1/3 IP, 10 ER start vs. Cleveland springs to mind). I don't see him coming out of pretty much nowhere to suddenly turn into a worldbeater on the mound, so I wouldn't be surprised to see these numbers.

Jorge de la Rosa, predicted 28 games (7 starts), 3-4 record, 5.54 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 44 Ks and a .320 BABIP in 58 IP. Man, PECOTA's showing Coors Field type numbers for KC's starters. I forgot the renovation at Kauffman will complete the move to the moon's surface. Ticket prices will be steep. Unfortunately, I can see de la Rosa living up to these, although he could make strides if he gets more command on his pitches, as control was a problem for him in '06. I'm cautiously optimistic he can do better. If not, I doubt he's back in '08.

Brian Bannister, predicted 28 games (11 starts), 3-5 record, 5.46 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 42 Ks and a .308 BABIP in 74 IP. I'm hoping for numbers more like that of his dad, Floyd. Bannister was OK for the Mets prior to his hamstring injury last season but this ain't the NL. I don't expect a whole lot more than these projections, unfortunately.

Scott Elarton, predicted 28 games (18 starts), 5-9 record, 6.02 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 60 Ks and a .294 BABIP in 110 IP. The lowest BABIP with the highest ERA thus far. I'm not even sure when Elarton is supposed to be back from the arm problems that ended his '06 season. This performance wouldn't surprise me as it matches up pretty much with his past performance. Anything more than this from Elarton would be gravy to me.

Just as ugly as expected. I'm nauseous.


Octavio Dotel, predicted 39 games, 15 saves, 2-3 record, 4.79 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 42 Ks and a .301 BABIP in 41 IP. PECOTA doesn't do blown saves, so no numbers on that. Even if he does do this, he'll still be trade fodder mid-season. If he doesn't get traded, he may or may not come back in '08. I'd like to think he can do better than this projection but time will tell.

Todd Wellemeyer, predicted 32 games, 2-2 record, 4.56 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 34 Ks and a .295 BABIP in 44 IP. About in line with his past MLB performance. Could be better, could be worse.

Joakim Soria, predicted 29 games (6 starts), 3-4 record, 4.41 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 49 Ks and a .289 BABIP in 64 IP. I think the elements of surprise and novelty make these possible to improve on for Soria. I'd love if Soriamania could hit KC like Fernandomania hit LA in '81. I think he's the surprise of the season for the Royals staff.

David Riske, predicted 40 games, 2-2 record, 4.41 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 35 Ks and a .289 BABIP in 46 IP. Riske can do better than this and I think he likely will.

Ken Ray, predicted 34 games, 1-2 record, 5.97 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 25 Ks and a .315 BABIP in 39 IP. Ray is hard to guess on as he has relatively little MLB experience. You've gotta trust Dayton at this point, though, and he knows the Braves pitchers so I'll expect better out of Ray.

Joel Peralta, predicted 45 games, 2-2 record, 4.51 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 38 Ks and a .294 BABIP in 51 IP. I say Peralta's solid for KC this season. Better than this.

Leo Nunez, predicted 71 games, 2-3 record, 5.49 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 40 Ks and a .301 BABIP in 65 IP. He's only 23, so I can see Leo still in the minors for the bulk of the time. He could use the polish, as these numbers aren't totally out of line.

Joe Nelson, predicted 41 games, 2-2 record, 4.57 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 40 Ks and a .296 BABIP in 41 IP. Nelson pitched well enough to start '07 in KC's bullpen and I expect he'll do OK. Well enough to stay up.

Jimmy Gobble, predicted 43 games (6 starts), 4-5 record, 4.66 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 58 Ks and a .304 BABIP in 74 IP. Gobble's only 25 so I can see him continuing to improve. He can do better than these numbers. He's got the stuff.

Ryan Braun, predicted 57 games, 3-4 record, 5.25 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 47 Ks and a .323 BABIP in 62 IP. Not a pleasant projection for what could be the season that establishes Braun in the majors. He could use some time at AAA for beginners and, if Dotel fails, try his hand at closing for KC.

John Bale, predicted 37 games, 3-4 record, 5.06 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 45 Ks and a .319 BABIP in 56 IP. Bale's another one that's hard to gauge as he's been pitching in Japan. Novelty may be in KC's favor on this guy, too, so he could do better than this. He could also get torched. Let's be optimistic and go for the former.

I think the Royals bullpen will be solid once more in '07.

Minors (may truncate these a little)

Billy Buckner, predicted 36 games (24 starts), 6-11 record, 5.79 ERA, 1.72 WHIP and a .314 BABIP in 144 IP. He will probably end the season at Omaha, so he isn't reaching KC this season. He needs time to fine tune his stuff as he had a shutdown repertoire at times in '06.

Dan Christensen, predicted plus 6 ERA, etc. He's probably at Wilmington and/or Wichita in '07.

Erik Cordier, predicted plus 6 ERA. He'll be busy trying to stay healthy at Burlington/Wilmington in '07.

Luis Cota, predicted ditto to Christensen/Cordier. He'll be trying to get back on track in Wichita, I assume, as the former organization top pitching prospect.

Zach Day, predicted 4.75 ERA, 1.48 WHIP. He could be a nice addition if he can make the team out of ST.

Brandon Duckworth, predicted plus 6 ERA, plus 1.6 WHIP. Not expecting much more from Duckworth.

Luke Hochevar, predicted 5.24 ERA, 1.39 WHIP. He may get a September call-up as I expect he'll start at either Wichita or Omaha to begin '07. It'll be interesting to see how he can do in his first full season.

Tyler Lumsden, predicted 6 ERA, 1.7 WHIP. He'll be at Wichita, I figure. Maybe Omaha.

All in all, like I dreaded, a pretty underwhelming projection for KC's staff in 2007. This is definitely Dayton Moore's biggest area to work on.

No comments: