Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Are the Diamondbacks here to stay? Part 2

After a look at the hitters yesterday, let's take a peek at the starting rotation and see if we can find any potential future potholes in Arizona's road to success (I love metaphors):
  • Javier Vasquez, 67.0 innings pitched, 1.12 WHIP, 7.9:1 k/bb ratio, 8.46 k/9, opponents batting line: .258/.288/.396, 3.49 ERA - throwing out Vasquez' season with the New York Yankees last year is tantamount to looking at his season objectively. Just about every stat of his is in line with his years with the Expos, with the exception of two: that absolutely insane k/bb ratio of almost 8 to 1 (3.23 for his career), and his pitches per inning (currently at 14.4, career at 15.9). That k/bb ratio will fall back to the mean at some point, but Vasquez always runs a good k/bb ratio anyway, so it won't mean much when he proves he's human sometime later this year. The pitches per inning could indicate a more efficient pitcher, and isn't more than an interesting stat. Vasquez could keep these numbers dancing all season long.
  • Brandon Webb, 62.1 innings pitched, 1.28 WHIP, 2.8:1 k/bb ratio, 6.93 k/9, opponents batting line: .264/.314/.393, 3.32 ERA - like Vasquez, Webb is running the lowest walk rate of his career, but it isn't a glaring breakout, same as his k/bb ratio. He did have a problem with walks last season, but seems to have that corrected. All his other stats are in line with what he did in 2003 and 2004. Move along, nothing to see here!
  • Shawn Estes, 55.1 innings pitched, 1.29 WHIP, 2:1 k/bb ratio, 5.98 k/9, opponents batting line: .256/.316/.436 - now this is an interesting one. Knee-jerk reaction? Of course there's going to be a regression, this is Shawn Estes we're talking about! However, four words: Coors and Wrigley Fields. We all should've expected Estes' numbers to recede some, but how much? To find out if Estes' stats are in line with what he's capable of, going back a few years isn't quite going to do it -- we have to look at some his Giants years as well to get a perspective. And what did I find? Estes' walk rate is that cause of his good fortune. His career bb/9 is 4.68, his bb/9 this year is 2.94, so Estes is walking about one less batter per start. If one also sees that Estes is being a more efficient pitcher this year at 15.6 pitches per inning as opposed to his career average of 16.7, it's obvious Estes is exercising more control than in years past. It doesn't seem like much, but trust me -- Estes' continued good fortune is dependant on his ability to retain control of the strike zone. If his walk rate and pitches per inning rise, so will his ERA. I expect a small numbers decline as the season wears on.
  • Brad Halsey, 53.1 innings pitched, 1.29 WHIP, 2.73:1 k/bb ratio, 5.06 k/9, opponents batting line: .280/.320/.454 - are you noticing a trend with the k/bb ratios and how good they are? Halsey only has one small stint in the bigs to compare with, so it's a bit difficult to get a read on him at this point. I will say that similar to Estes, Halsey would be wise to keep that walk rate down, because that opponents SLG is getting a bit high. If he's not giving away free baserunners, he may be fine. I can't predict any regression, but I will say that at 24 years of age, Halsey may be a candidate to succumb to some growing pains (yep, I'm reaching a bit).

Notice anybody missing? You should be wondering about the fortunes of former Giant Russ Ortiz. Heh. As much control as the other Diamondback starters are displaying, Ortiz is making up for that with sloppy, sloppy pitching. He's always walked a tightrope with his walks, but whereas someone like Estes has paid for his control problems, Ortiz has seemed to regularly find a way around allowing runs to cross the plate. Not so this year.

Is Ortiz this bad? Well, no, not quite. His k rate is way down, and his opponents batting line is way up. Ortiz survived control problems in the past by simply not allowing a whole lot of hits, and doing a pretty good job at dampening power. That's the difference this year, is that he's getting hit hard in addition to his normal base on ball issues. So unfortunately for the Giants, it looks more like Russ is due a little good luck and see his numbers drop some. But D-Backs brass still won't recoup their investment on Ortiz, because he just isn't as good enough to make about the same salary as Jason Schmidt.

So like the hitters, it's hard to see any sort of overall anomalies in performance with the Arizona rotation. I would think Estes is due to fall back to Earth a bit, but that'll likely be cancelled out by Ortiz not being so terrible. The only thing that could slow the D-Backs rotation down is probably injury.

Next up: Diamondback bullpen.

1 comment:

Jim McLennan said...

Not much to comment on or argue with in this one, except to add that BOB is a strong hitter's park, not least because it's the second highest park in the majors. Okay, Coors it isn't, but it definitely has an effect.