Thursday, March 28, 2013

Finding Optimism in the Astros Starting Rotation

The Astros starting rotation is set, and it doesn't scream for much optimism. Only one of the pitchers in the rotation had an ERA under 4 last year, Lucas Harrell at 3.76. Bedard had an ERA over 5, and Humber had an unsightly 6.44 ERA. Even Peacock had an ERA of over Triple A. In its organizational rankings, Fangraphs had ranked the Astros' pitching staff ranked dead last, and had this to say: "This might not be the worst rotation anyone has ever put together on purpose, but it’s in the conversation." Not cool, Fangraphs, not cool. 

Thing is, though, you don't have to look very far back to get a much rosier view of this group.  Here is this groups' ERA's in 2011.

Norris    3.77
Humber  3.75
Bedard   3.62
Harrell    2.63 (Triple A)
Peacock 3.19 (Triple A)

If the Astros were going into the 2012 season with this group of pitchers, I think our projections would be quite a bit more optimistic. Maybe some regression would be expected from Humber and Norris, and I don't think you could have expected much better from Harrell than what he actually produced, but overall, that is a solid, if unspectacular, group 1-5.

Now, we can't ignore what happened last year. Norris took a step back. Humber and Bedard took three or four. Peacock was awful in his repeat of Triple A. But, if you are looking for reasons for optimism, look no further than how this group performed 2011. And there is nothing wrong with a little optimism on March 28, even for Astros fans.


Imasalmon said...

There is reason to be optimistic with Peacock. Last year he was in the PCL, versus the IL before. The PCL is notoriously unfriendly to pitchers. Despite that, his rate stats last year were pretty similar to what he had done the year before.

ERA isn't everything, and can be a pretty terrible measure of a pitcher, truth be told. It relies on many factors that are outside of the pitchers control, such as the quality of the defense behind him and park factors. Looking at Fangraphs, his FIP in 2012 was a 4.26, and a 4.18 in AAA the year before, which was only 12 innings, so it is an almost worthless sample size.

I would expect that to increase a bit with the move to the majors, but I still would look for him to have a FIP less than 5, which in a perfect world would indicate an ERA of less than 5.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to Kyle Weiland?

Blinutne said...

I second anonymous' question. After Googling, I still can't figure it out. What happened to him following his surgery? It seems he totally fell off the map. Has the farm system just improved that much? Was he just that bad last April?

(Not Hank) Aaron said...

What happened to Kyle Weiland seems to be the million dollar question. I saw a discussion on it on twitter yesterday, and no one seems to know. It was very interesting he was listed in the Triple A tandem starters group.

(Not Hank) Aaron said...

sorry. Was NOT listed.