On April 22nd, I wrote about 5 pitchers who had big splits in their FIP and ERA. The idea is that these are good buy-low candidates because they had been the victim of bad luck or bad defense, and that they could see improvement as the season goes on.
Its not a perfect science by any means. It's not a science at all, really. It's just looking at the data and seeing imperfections in the imperfect statistic known as ERA. Flaws that could be eradicated and pitchers that could see improvement as long as they keep doing what they are doing.
So let's review what's happened in the last 3 weeks and also take a look at a few other pitchers who have large splits going into today's games.
Kyle Davies - Same
Davies had the largest difference in the league (3.79 Runs) What has he done since? 0-4, 6.97 ERA. Let's make it clear that Davies is a borderline major league starter to begin with. Imagine if he was still on the Braves and that stud-laden rotation. However he's on the Royals, which helped him to start this year, but won't help him as the year goes on. If Eric Hosmer started the youth movement, Danny Duffy or Mike Montgomery will keep it going. Davies could find himself designated for assignment or in the bullpen.
Travis Wood - Slightly better
Wood had the 19th best FIP in baseball after 3 weeks, but a high BABIP against and a low LOB% left his ERA in the dust. Over his last 4 starts he is 1-1, 4.84 ERA, 22.1 innings, 21 K's, 8 bb's. Woods LOB% is going in the right direction but the BABIP is going in the wrong direction. He had 1 bad start against Florida, but the other 3 starts were very solid, including 1 against St Louis. Wood still has an excellent FIP of 2.96
Chris Tillman - Same
Tillman, like others on this list, seems to suffer from Inconsistent Starter Syndrome. He's got 4 starts you could consider good to very good, and 3 starts that are just very bad. His 2 wins over the last 3 starts came against anemic offenses Chicago and Seattle, and in the other start he got blasted by the Royals. Tillman still has a FIP of 3.44, but he's not someone you can start on a consistent basis.
Daniel Hudson - Much better
Hudson could be the poster child for what can go right when you look deeper at a pitchers numbers than just ERA. In his last 4 starts he is 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA, 22 K's, 4 bb's in 26.2 innings. He's still giving up more hits than you'd like to see, but the other numbers are pretty good and he should be started in the right situations.
Bud Norris - Much better
I suggested at the time that Norris was making himself a must-own pitcher. At the time he was only 12% owned in Yahoo leagues. For some reason he is still only 54% owned, but any smart owner would jump on the wagon immediately. He's limiting walks while still getting strikeouts. In his last 4 starts he is 1-1, 2.12 ERA, 28 innings, 34 K's, 10 bb's, and a .218 BAA. His 14% swinging strikeout rate over that time is really, really good. Go get him if you can.
Others to Watch
Jordan Zimmerman (Run differential: 1.42)
Zimmerman is basically that "other" guy in Washington. He's the "other" Zimmerman. He's the "other" future anchor of the starting rotation. And he's had a tough time fighting back from his devastating injury but he might be on the right track now.
He doesn't suffer from an abnormally high BABIP against (.301) but only 58.7% of batters are being stranded, an extremely low rate (2nd worst in the majors amongst qualified pitchers.) Owners have been wary of his inconsistency this year (only 49% owned) but he's strung together 3 nice starts which have resulted in a 1-0 record, 3.44 ERA, 21 K's, 6 bb's in 18.1 innings. Zimmerman struck out 11 batters in 6.1 innings in his last start, so now would be a good time to pounce.
Derek Holland (Run differential: 1.19)
Thanks to Fangraphs Dave Cameron, I have been firmly on the Derek Holland bandwagon. We are all still waiting for those excellent results he was supposed to deliver. I thought the main thing holding him back was injuries, but truthfully he just hasn't been able to replicate that high strikeout, low walk numbers he had in the minors. The worst number holding him back right now is a .349 BABIP against, but there's a lot left to be desired in the K and BB numbers. Over his last 35.2 innings, he has allowed 44 hits, struck out 28, walked 17 and has an ERA of 5.80.
His FIP and xFIP are both below 4, but maybe somethings just not right with Holland at the moment. I could deal with the high ERA, but the strikeout and walk numbers are concerning. Holland is currently 23% owned in Yahoo.
Ervin Santana (Run differential: 1.19)
Santana currently has a 1-4 record and a 4.81 ERA while pitching in the same rotation as perhaps the 2 leading AL Cy Young candidates. However, Santana shouldn't get too down on himself. He hasn't come back to his breakout season of 2008 after injury, but there are positive signs. His 8.32 K/9 is the highest its been since '08 and he doesn't walk a lot of batters. His FIP of 3.62 would be the 2nd best of his career.
The surprising thing is that he's doing this with 2.3 MPH lost off of his fastball for 2008, which is impressive considering he only has two pitches. Santana is currently 58% owned and a good candidate to pick up some wins as the season goes along and he gets a bit luckier. Why shouldn't he? Every other Angel does.