I’m really, really worried about the NY Mets starting rotation. At it’s core, it is a collection of league average pitchers, none of whom are markedly above average, and several of whom are higher-than-normal risks for injury or collapse. As far as I can tell, six pitchers are going to get the brunt of the innings for the Mets this year:
- Mike Pelfrey
- R.A. Dickey
- Jon Niese
- Chris Young
- Chris Capuano
- Dillon Gee
Note: I’m cautiously pessimistic about Johan Santana’s return. Until I see him throw in a rehab start, I’m not pencilling him in for squat. We’ll talk again after the All-Star break.
It just so happens that I’ve listed these guys in how effective I expected them to be, just a few weeks ago. This is before I started to immerse myself in the knowledge available on the internet and in books. When I first heard about the Young / Capuano signings, I thought that they were low-risk, high-reward types of signings. In hindsight, I feel that Capuano might have been good, but Young is a worse bet than I originally thought. If it wasn’t for a lack of organizational depth, I’d actually argue that he shouldn’t be on the roster at all.
At any rate, I’ve looked at a set of projections for each of these starters – projections from FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus. I’d like to provide for you, my reader (maybe there are two of you) some of the “peripheral” numbers projected for Mets starters. So here you go:
- SO/9: PECOTA – 6.55 James – 7.69 Marcel – 7.73 Fans – 7.43
- BB/9: PECOTA – 3.61 James – 3.24 Marcel – 3.20 Fans – 3.08
- HR/9: PECOTA – 0.92 James – 0.87 Marcel – 0.97 Fans – 0.93
- SO/9: PECOTA – 4.61 James – 5.34 Marcel – 5.85 Fans – 5.48
- BB/9: PECOTA – 3.08 James – 2.97 Marcel – 2.96 Fans – 2.67
- HR/9: PECOTA – 0.85 James – 0.99 Marcel – 0.85 Fans – 0.81
- SO/9: PECOTA – 4.84 James – 5.44 Marcel – 5.65 Fans – 5.32
- BB/9: PECOTA – 3.42 James – 3.31 Marcel – 2.96 Fans – 2.67
- HR/9: PECOTA – 0.63 James – 0.65 Marcel – 0.65 Fans – 0.67
- SO/9: PECOTA – 6.92 James – 7.26 Marcel – 7.35
- BB/9: PECOTA – 2.83 James – 2.70 Marcel – 3.17
- HR/9: PECOTA – 1.26 James – 1.13 Marcel – 1.01
- SO/9: PECOTA – 7.55 James – 7.55 Marcel – 7.15 Fans – 6.73
- BB/9: PECOTA – 4.42 James – 3.54 Marcel – 3.92 Fans – 4.19
- HR/9: PECOTA – 1.04 James – 1.29 Marcel – 1.04 Fans – 0.96
- SO/9: PECOTA – 6.38 James – 8.09 Marcel – 6.78
- BB/9: PECOTA – 3.03 James – 2.73 Marcel – 3.39
- HR/9: PECOTA – 1.06 James – 1.18 Marcel – 0.82
Whew. That was a lot of stats. Here’s the last set I’ll give you.
National League in 2010: SO/9: 7.4 BB/9: 3.3 HR/9: 0.9
Major Leagues in 2010: SO/9: 7.1 BB/9: 3.3 HR/9: 1.0
What were my takeaways from this?
- Mike Pelfrey is not a #1 starter. In fact, he’s barely a #3. While he is GREAT at keeping the ball in the park, he is projected to strike out 2.3 hitters every nine innings less than last year’s NL average. I know, it’s not the best baseline, but it’s not even close either. His walk rate is about the league average. Big Pelf is a good pitcher, but NY fans may have completely unrealistic expectations for his season.
- Jon Niese is certainly projected to be the best starter in the rotation. To me, this is fascinating. He’s the only one in the rotation who looks to strike out hitters near the league average, and his other peripherals seem to be right at or just under the league average. Look for him to be very slightly above average…unless that curveball gets a lot better.
- R.A. Dickey is tough to project, given his single year of success and the zaniness of his knuckler…but these projections show him to walk the fewest batters in the rotation. With the knuckleball. That’s fascinating. They also project him to backslide from last year – no real surprise there.
- Chris Capuano looks like a steal, if he can remain healthy and effective. A left-handed, league-average starter for a little over a million dollars? I’ll take it. If only he could throw 200 innings this year – I expect something closer to 140.
- Oh man, does Chris Young’s walk rate look terrible or what? I’m going to be really worried every time he takes the bump.
- Dillon Gee’s projections make me much less nervous about him starting games for us this year. Before, I kind of viewed him as a swingman-type, even on this pitching-poor team, but every projection system finds a little to like about him. The trick will be striking out major league hitters. I guess that’s true for every starter, though.
Finally, and most importantly, we should NOT expect the same pitching performance we got out of the 2010 Mets this year. That team had a great ERA, this team doesn’t look to do the same. In order to outperform league-average (at best, even) the team will need more than a little luck, and some very solid defense. Here’s to hoping the team is up to that challenge.