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View Full Version : What CincinnATI Needs to Compete: Starting Pitching



Scrap Irony
01-16-2009, 10:14 PM
Similar to the thread abou OPS+, I wanted to look at the starting rotation of the past 10 World Series winners by ERA+ and see if there were any commonalities and how the 09 Red staff stacks up.

Past 10 World Series winner starting rotations, by ERA+ (ranked by IP/ team, min. 10 GS):

08 Phillies
SP *Cole Hamels 142
SP *Jamie Moyer 118
SP Kyle Kendrick 80
SP Brett Myers 96
SP Adam Eaton 75
SP Joe Blanton 104

07 Red Sox
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka 108
SP Tim Wakefield 100
SP Josh Beckett 145
SP Curt Schilling 122
SP Julian Tavarez 92
SP *Jon Lester 104

06 Cardinals
SP Jason Marquis 74
SP Chris Carpenter 144
SP Jeff Suppan 108
SP *Mark Mulder ]62
SP Anthony Reyes 88
SP Jeff Weaver 86
SP Sidney Ponson 85

05 White Sox
SP *Mark Buehrle 144
SP Freddy Garcia 116
SP Jose Contreras 125
SP Jon Garland 128
SP Orlando Hernandez 88
SP Brandon McCarthy 111

04 Red Sox
SP Derek Lowe 90
SP Pedro Martinez 125
SP Curt Schilling 150
SP Tim Wakefield 100
SP Bronson Arroyo 121

03 Marlins
SP Carl Pavano 98
SP Brad Penny 102
SP *Mark Redman 117
SP *Dontrelle Willis 127
SP Josh Beckett 138

02 Angels
SP Kevin Appier 113
SP Ramon Ortiz 117
SP *Jarrod Washburn 141
SP Aaron Sele 90
SP John Lackey 121

01 Diamondbacks
SP Curt Schilling 157
SP *Randy Johnson 188
SP *Brian Anderson 90
SP Robert Ellis 81
SP Albie Lopez 117

00 Yankees
SP Roger Clemens 130
SP *Andy Pettitte 111
SP David Cone 70
SP Orlando Hernandez 107
SP *Denny Neagle 83

99 Yankees
SP Orlando Hernandez 115
SP David Cone 137
SP *Andy Pettitte 101
SP Roger Clemens 103
SP Hideki Irabu 98

Some observations:
Kicking Ace
No team of the past decade has won the World Series without a starter posting a 130 ERA+. In fact, aces seem to be the one absolute throughout baseball history, from Cy Young to Cole Hamels. Good teams require aces.

Take the helm, Number Two
Almost all WS winners (two exceptions) have a solid #2 starter, posting at least a 115 ERA+. That tells me you need at least two possible All Star level starters in order to be ultimately successful.

Depth Charge
On average, a team needs at least one other pitchers tossing above league average innings. Often, these innings come from either an unexpected source late in the year. This source may be a fifth starter candidate or perhaps a late-season trade target. Seven of 10 teams won the World Series with a boost from an unsung helper.

Don't Suck
Most World Champs not only have a few very successful pitchers, they avoid really bad ones. The worst starter ERA+ posted over the past decade was a 70. Only five starters were below 85.

Cincinnati's 08 ERA+:
SP Bronson Arroyo 95
SP Edinson Volquez 140
SP Johnny Cueto 94
SP Aaron Harang 94
SP Josh Fogg 59

Comments: You've got some work to do, Scooby Doo. But, at second glance, maybe not that much.

The ace is taken care of, assuming Volquez progresses and doesn't take a step backward.

History suggests both Harang and Arroyo are capable of being #2 starters, ERA+ing 125 or better. (Both enjoyed two seasons of 120+ ERA+, with Arroyo at a career ERA+ of 108, while Harang's is 105.)

Cueto is close to league average now, 22, and has some serious talent. Most prognosticators and Redszone pundits peg him as likely to be at least league average with a good chance to break out and be really good at some point soon.

The fifth starter spot in 08 was truly horrific. (Question for someone smarter than I: if you replace the Reds' three most garing weaknesses from 08-- Bako, Patterson, and the fifth starter spot-- with league average numbers, what would the pythag of the team have been? Would they have been at .500? Seems possible to me, as all three were dead-cat-on-the-road ugly last season.) A key to the 2009 season may very well be Micah Owings. In 2007, he posted an ERA+ of 109. Last season, he was hurt and ineffective, but there's hope for a pretty sizeable rebound here.

In fact, there's some real hope that all five starters could post ERA+ numbers well over 100, making this the best Red starting staff since... Well, the best Cincinnati starting staff since RFS was in short pants anyway.

As always, comments are appreciated. What say you, Redszone? Does this starting staff have the right stuff?

mth123
01-16-2009, 10:23 PM
Good enough to win. Probably not good enough to be the main reason.

SteelSD
01-16-2009, 11:09 PM
Good enough to win. Probably not good enough to be the main reason.

Decent enough to support a really good offense. But the 2009 offense, as it currently projects, isn't anything resembling that.

At this point, the Reds look to have a decent rotation and a volatile bullpen supporting a substandard offense coupled with a mediocre or worse defense.

Good luck getting that team to anything resembling truly competitive.

AmarilloRed
01-16-2009, 11:53 PM
Ramon A. Ramirez had a ERA+ of 169 in his 5 Red starts last year. I expect that to come down quite a bit, but I expect him to have an ERA+ of at least 100 if he is the fifth starter.

mth123
01-17-2009, 07:31 AM
Decent enough to support a really good offense. But the 2009 offense, as it currently projects, isn't anything resembling that.

At this point, the Reds look to have a decent rotation and a volatile bullpen supporting a substandard offense coupled with a mediocre or worse defense.

Good luck getting that team to anything resembling truly competitive.

Agreed. In past years the pitching was not good enough no matter what else happened. This year, if the offense is good, the pitching gives them a chance. The pitching is not good enough to overcome other shortcomings IMO.

Of course we know that the offense and defense are about 2 to 3 players short of acceptability. The team needs at least one big corner bat and one superior IF glove (who contributes on offense) to play SS to give it a sniff at contention. If that would push Dickerson to CF and Willy T to the Mexican League, this team would have a chance. If it pushes Dickerson to the bench and Willy leads off, it may still not be enough.

GADawg
01-17-2009, 07:31 AM
I've been saying this all along...go get Lowe(too late) or Sheets(and pray)and pitch 'em to death. The freakin' braves did it.

GAC
01-17-2009, 08:03 AM
Decent enough to support a really good offense. But the 2009 offense, as it currently projects, isn't anything resembling that.

At this point, the Reds look to have a decent rotation and a volatile bullpen supporting a substandard offense coupled with a mediocre or worse defense.

Good luck getting that team to anything resembling truly competitive.


Short, sweet, and accurate analysis.

buckeyenut
01-17-2009, 09:13 AM
I would argue that if you stick a decent defense behind the pitching staff as currently constructed, you should reasonably be able to expect a WS caliber rotation by these metrics. Our defense has been absolutely putrid the last couple of years so the OPS+, which I assume doesnt adjust for defense, that we have already put up is pretty amazing.

With Griffey and Dunn gone and Taveras and Dickerson replacing them for now, our OF defense is dramatically improved. SS is improved with AGon over Kepp, but that is going from really awful to pretty darn bad, so we really need to get Janish time or bring in a SS. I think we have upgraded our catcher defense and I can live with Phillips, Votto and even EE, counting on Votto and EE to continue to improve with experience.

I truly believe that a ++ defender at SS with a league average stick is far and away this team's biggest need and would set us up nicely for 2010 if it was a young kid providing that.

GADawg
01-17-2009, 09:26 AM
I would argue that if you stick a decent defense behind the pitching staff as currently constructed, you should reasonably be able to expect a WS caliber rotation by these metrics. Our defense has been absolutely putrid the last couple of years so the OPS+, which I assume doesnt adjust for defense, that we have already put up is pretty amazing.

With Griffey and Dunn gone and Taveras and Dickerson replacing them for now, our OF defense is dramatically improved. SS is improved with AGon over Kepp, but that is going from really awful to pretty darn bad, so we really need to get Janish time or bring in a SS. I think we have upgraded our catcher defense and I can live with Phillips, Votto and even EE, counting on Votto and EE to continue to improve with experience.

I truly believe that a ++ defender at SS with a league average stick is far and away this team's biggest need and would set us up nicely for 2010 if it was a young kid providing that.


you can "live" with Phillips?...or did you mean Phillips, Votto, and E.E. as a group?

As for Janish I'll admit he's the best defensive option currently but considering the suspect and inconsistent offense could they really afford that anemic stick?(realizing this has been beaten to death)At what point does his lack of pop cancel out his glove? At what point does a healthy combo of Kepp/Hairston cancel out their offensive production with their "legendary" defensive liabilities?

In my perfect little world "we'd" go get O. Hudson and move BP to short and live happily ever after....candies and nuts for us all!

Falls City Beer
01-17-2009, 09:29 AM
The Reds pitching is as mediocre as its offense and probably its defense. Though I think the offense and defense are much more likely to surprise than the pitching.

If Arroyo and Harang can avoid sucking (be league average) and Cueto can step to the fore, things might change, but that's just too much uncertainty, and zero depth.

OnBaseMachine
01-17-2009, 09:20 PM
It's hard to believe the 2006 Cardinals and 2008 Phillies were able to win a World Series with those awful rotations. Two starters and then pray for rain.

*BaseClogger*
01-17-2009, 10:37 PM
It's hard to believe the 2006 Cardinals and 2008 Phillies were able to win a World Series with those awful rotations. Two starters and then pray for rain.

It's all about run differential; balance is a myth IMO...

OnBaseMachine
01-17-2009, 10:44 PM
It's all about run differential; balance is a myth IMO...

The Phillies finished with a strong +119 run differential but the 2006 Cardinals finished at just +19. They were helped out by a very weak NL Central and then they caught a break in the playoffs when Pedro Martinez got injured and was unable to pitch.

*BaseClogger*
01-17-2009, 10:47 PM
The Phillies finished with a strong +119 run differential but the 2006 Cardinals finished at just +19. They were helped out by a very weak NL Central and then they caught a break in the playoffs when Pedro Martinez got injured and was unable to pitch.

Yeah, they were not one of the stronger teams that season but benefited from the current playoff system...

I(heart)Freel
01-17-2009, 11:08 PM
I honestly don't understand the pessimism for this year's club.... most certainly its pitching, which has to be considered a team strength.

Dude listed the stats the 08 stats...

Cincinnati's 08 ERA+:
SP Bronson Arroyo 95
SP Edinson Volquez 140
SP Johnny Cueto 94
SP Aaron Harang 94
SP Josh Fogg 59

Arroyo stunk like old fish for half the season. Harang wasn't close to himself (and the numbers bear that out). Cueto has the makings of something special, and age will get him there. Edinson is the only one from whom I expect a regression, but I think it will be slight. The closest Josh Fogg will come to Great American Ballpark in 2009 will be the Let It Ride table at the Argosy. And for once, there are viable, young and up-and-coming starters ready in Louisville for in-season depth. What's not to like?

Seriously... what fuels all the Debbie Downer talk around here?

*BaseClogger*
01-17-2009, 11:15 PM
I honestly don't understand the pessimism for this year's club.... most certainly its pitching, which has to be considered a team strength.

Dude listed the stats the 08 stats...

Cincinnati's 08 ERA+:
SP Bronson Arroyo 95
SP Edinson Volquez 140
SP Johnny Cueto 94
SP Aaron Harang 94
SP Josh Fogg 59

Arroyo stunk like old fish for half the season. Harang wasn't close to himself (and the numbers bear that out). Cueto has the makings of something special, and age will get him there. Edinson is the only one from whom I expect a regression, but I think it will be slight. The closest Josh Fogg will come to Great American Ballpark in 2009 will be the Let It Ride table at the Argosy. And for once, there are viable, young and up-and-coming starters ready in Louisville for in-season depth. What's not to like?

Seriously... what fuels all the Debbie Downer talk around here?

A poor offense and a fair defense?

But seriously, you can't just throw out Bronson's first half. His end of season numbers are pretty much what I expect out of him at this point in his career. I think we will see better performances out of Harang, Cueto, and the fifth spot, but this team has to close a 96 run gap just to draw even. They need another 100 runs to be legitimate contenders. Pitching can only take us so far...

Scrap Irony
01-17-2009, 11:35 PM
Why would you expect that out of Arroyo? He's still fairly young (31), his stuff is still solid, and he's pitched well (ERA+ above 100) four years prior to that, with two seasons of 120+ ERA+.

Harang admittedly has been more consistent than Arroyo in their time with the Reds, but Arroyo's had the best single season and the better ERA+ for his career.

Both are good pitchers. Both should rebound nicely.

*BaseClogger*
01-17-2009, 11:56 PM
Why would you expect that out of Arroyo? He's still fairly young (31), his stuff is still solid, and he's pitched well (ERA+ above 100) four years prior to that, with two seasons of 120+ ERA+.

Harang admittedly has been more consistent than Arroyo in their time with the Reds, but Arroyo's had the best single season and the better ERA+ for his career.

Both are good pitchers. Both should rebound nicely.

Rebound from what?

xFIP's from the last five seasons: 4.52, 5.38, 4.40, 4.77, and 4.34. It looks like he's just an average pitcher. And he is a flyball pitcher pitching in GABP...

Scrap Irony
01-18-2009, 10:18 AM
Arroyo's season in 2008 was fairly pedestrian. I expect him to better his numbers. An ERA+ of 100-110 is probable and one over that is possible. That would be a rebound and certainly a significant number of those 100 runs needed for .500.

*BaseClogger*
01-18-2009, 10:44 AM
Arroyo's season in 2008 was fairly pedestrian. I expect him to better his numbers. An ERA+ of 100-110 is probable and one over that is possible. That would be a rebound and certainly a significant number of those 100 runs needed for .500.

What kind of ERA are you talking about? If he improved his ERA from 4.77 to his career average of 4.31 it would only save 10 runs over 200 innings. That's a nice start, but I don't think it's the kind of dent you envision...

nate
01-18-2009, 11:17 AM
What kind of ERA are you talking about? If he improved his ERA from 4.77 to his career average of 4.31 it would only save 10 runs over 200 innings. That's a nice start, but I don't think it's the kind of dent you envision...

I was thinking the same thing. Even if he had 2006 all over again, it's an 18 run swing. That's nice, but unlikely.

ERA+ isn't indicative of runs allowed either. It's indicative of what he'll do versus the league.

I wouldn't look to guys who are already living up to their potential for run improvement. I'd look for guys who aren't to do so. I think Cueto and Harang will improve while Volquez might stay the same or be a bit worse. The 5th-spot will likely improve because it seems hard to be any worse. Maybe that's 20-30 runs improvement right there...a good start, but only a chip in the 100 run difference we need just to break even.

Caveat Emperor
01-18-2009, 02:23 PM
Defense remains a concern. Most of the teams you listed off as past WS champions had great defenders on their roster to help make the aces better and keep the back ends of the rotation in the mediocre range.

The Reds have just 1 player on their roster (Phillips) that plays great (top-5 at his position in the league) defense. Bruce profiles to plus-defense, Votto plays league average defense, and then it's a "Whoa nelly...." ride to the basement with guys like Taveras, Hairston, Hernandez, and Encarnacion.

You can't look at pitching in a vacuum. The Reds look to have a very solid rotation, but one that will be betrayed on a nightly basis by poor defensive construction.

*BaseClogger*
01-18-2009, 02:54 PM
Here's what ERAs I expect from the rotation:

Volquez - 4.00
Harang - 4.00
Arroyo 4.50
Cueto - 4.50
Owings - 5.00

Highlifeman21
01-18-2009, 10:00 PM
Here's what ERAs I expect from the rotation:

Volquez - 4.00
Harang - 4.00
Arroyo 4.50
Cueto - 4.50
Owings - 5.00

One of them will be under 4, but it won't be by much.

My guess is Harang

AmarilloRed
01-18-2009, 11:47 PM
Here's what ERAs I expect from the rotation:

Volquez - 4.00
Harang - 4.00
Arroyo 4.50
Cueto - 4.50
Owings - 5.00

I still think Ramirez will get the fifth starter spot over Owings. He actually performed in the month of September as the fifth starter.

*BaseClogger*
01-19-2009, 05:32 PM
I still think Ramirez will get the fifth starter spot over Owings. He actually performed in the month of September as the fifth starter.

I think the Reds want to find out how good Owings is. Ramirez is probably their backup plan as I think they are comfortable with him starting in AAA...