We're back to take another look at pitchers whose ERA might not be quite indicative of their actual success by using FIP and xFIP instead. Who are some potential buy-kinda-low candidates? (Nobody is going to panic on a high ERA after just two or three starts, but it's never too early to poke the fire.)
Zack Greinke - 6.75 ERA, 0.94 FIP, 1.59 xFIP
Greinke currently sports a 6.75 ERA and also the second-best xFIP and number one FIP in baseball. It's doubtful that any owner is gonna trip and trade Greinke for pennies on the dollar because his ERA is a little inflated, but maybe you get lucky and he has one or two more "bad starts" and get him at like a 5% discount.
Last season, Greinke experienced a similar fate in terms of ERA-FIP and the same thing happened in 2010. Greinke has had a really hard time stranding runners, with only 65-70% of runners being left-on-base over 2010-2011. That number this year is 42.9% and hitters have a .419 BABIP against Zack.
Meanwhile, he's also only walked one batter in 10.2 innings with twelve strikeouts. Less hits will fall in, more batters will find themselves stuck at second base, and Greinke's ERA will settle into a range between 3 and 3.50. And there's always the possibility that he actually gets lucky and posts a sub-2.50 ERA again, because he's just that good.
At what point will you be able to get him and at one point will it be too late?
Luke Hochevar - 7.84 ERA, 2.42 FIP
Unless something really unexpected happens, Hochevar will always be considered a big draft bust. There's a certain aura around being the number one overall pick, no matter the circumstances of how you became the number one overall pick. Hochevar was the number one overall pick but he's no more than a #4 starter, at best.
That doesn't mean that he's completely useless or that he can't get slightly better. He'll just probably never be an ace but being a #4 starter has it's value too. He's a bust, but there are a lot worse busts out there, right Matt Bush?
Hochevar has made two starts this year and has an ERA of 7.84 in 10.1 innings with 14 hits allowed. That's not good but his 2.42 FIP would indicate that it's not that bad either. Hitters have a .400 BABIP against Hochevar and only 47.1% have been stranded.
When hit luck regresses to what it should be, Hochevar is still the exact same pitcher he's been the last two years: A 4.00 xFIP, 2-WAR pitcher. And that's not terrible.
Felix Doubront - 5.40 ERA, 2.81 FIP
The Red Sox rookie was solid for four innings against the Rays yesterday before getting into trouble in the fifth. He struck out seven batters and walked only one but also caught some fortunate breaks. The end result: 5 innings, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.
Doubront is not a "top prospect" but in Boston he could have some value in the Wins category. His xFIP of 3.03 is also very encouraging and he's definitely one to keep an eye on and maybe grab a hold of.
Francisco Liriano - 10.00 ERA, 6.13 FIP
An incredible rookie season can go a long ways towards giving people hope that you'll some day regain what you once had. Like Dontrelle Willis, maybe it's time we re-consider second chances for Liriano.
He's been "unlucky" to start the year, thanks to a .406 BABIP and 46.5% LOB, but he's also been bad: Only 6 K/9 with 5 BB/9. Last season, he was also bad. The year before that, he was great. But overall, Liriano has just been bad ever since he lost 2007 to injury.
When Liriano was great in 2010, it wasn't just craftiness. He had popped his fastball velocity back up to 93.7 MPH on average, but over the last two years it's been sitting at 91. Early pitchFX on his slider indicated a 3 MPH drop in velocity there too.
Just stay away.
Chris Volstad - 4.91 ERA, 2.82 FIP
Last season the Cubs acquired a starting pitcher from Florida and he turned out to be a great acquisition. This season, the Cubs did a similar thing, but this time they acquired Chris Volstad. He may not be as good as Matt Garza, but early season returns indicate that Chicago might be getting pretty good at identifying SP projects that they can get the most out of.
Garza posted career-best numbers last year and he's off to a fast start again in 2012. Volstad always seemed like he could be much better than his results ever indicated and he's been bright in the early going. Even though his ERA is the same as it was last year (4.91, 4.89 in 2011) he's posted 8.2 K/9 and only 1.6 BB/9.
Early-on, he's throwing more change-ups and less fastballs and it appears to be paying off. He's certainly one to watch from here on out. Maybe the Cubbies should acquire Liriano.
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