News and notes from around the league for April 18, 2013.
Thanks to Jason Martinez and Clint Chisam of MLB Depth Charts, we'll now be bringing you daily news, notes, transactions, injury updates, and notable performances from the previous day's games...throughout the entire season! And if you like what you see here, don't forget to check out MLBDC's Insider subscription, which also includes starting pitcher rankings and matchups, top 25 batter vs. pitcher stat rankings, lineup tracker (includes lineups from past seven games), rotation report, stat tracker, and more!
Probable Pitchers for April 18, 2013
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Having a great pitch doesn't make you a great pitcher, as the PITCHf/x leaderboards show.
If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for PITCHf/x leaderboards filled with info from Brooks Baseball for a while. And now that you have them—again, if you’re like me—you’re compelled to keep sorting columns in descending order, in every possible permutation, just to see what will rise to the top. Sometimes what rises to the top is a name you don’t expect to see. This is an article about a few of those names, and the pitches that plucked them out of obscurity and took them to the top of a leaderboard where no one would have expected them to be.
There are many ways to gauge the effectiveness of a particular pitch. One way is to see how often batters fail to hit the pitch when they attempt to. This leaves out a lot of information—how often they attempt to hit it, how well they do when they succeed, how well the pitch sets up a subsequent offering—but it is a quick-and-dirty way to assess unhittability. The most unhittable pitches—by this definition of “unhittable”—are pretty predictable. Cole Hamels has the most unhittable changeup. Zack Greinke (or Edwin Jackson, depending on your minimums) has the most unhittable slider. A.J. Burnett has the most unhittable curve. (That one might seem slightly less predictable, but even during his disappointing seasons, Burnett’s curve was always hard to hit.) Among relievers, if you set the thresholds low enough, Aroldis Chapman has the most unhittable fastball and the most unhittable slider. Aroldis Chapman is really hard to hit.
A.J. Burnett, Jake Arrieta, and Alex Cobb for the crux of this week's VP rotation
Last Chance: Time to get on board with these arms before they are snapped up in your league. These entries are becoming less available with each passing start and find themselves on rosters in 30-plus percent of the leagues at two of the three outlets and over 50 percent at one or more of them. We won’t necessarily have options in this field each week.
While Tim Wakefield limped to his 200th win, Mariano Rivera continued his string of excellence.
Tuesday night was a momentous one as far as forty-something pitchers earning round-numbered career milestones of questionable significance go. In Boston, Tim Wakefieldwobbled but didn't fall down, earning career win number 200. Hours later and about 2,500 miles away in Seattle, Mariano Rivera earned his 600th career save. Wakefield labored to become the 108th pitcher to reach his plateau, while Rivera looked almost effortless in becoming just the second pitcher to reach his, but neither accomplishment changes how those venerable hurlers should be viewed in the context of history.
Brandon Belt and Andrew Oliver get second shots at launching their MLB careers, Jordan Lyles arrives ahead of schedule, and Chris Stewart and Brandon Crawford become the latest Giants offensive filler.
Since health is a skill, we can't call the Astros completely untalented.
The Team Injury Projections are here, driven by our brand new injury forecasting system, the Comprehensive Health Index [of] Pitchers [and] Players [with] Evaluative Results—or, more succinctly, CHIPPER. Thanks to work by Colin Wyers and Dan Turkenkopf and a database loaded with injuries dating back to the 2002 season—that's nearly 4,600 players and well over 400,000 days lost to injury—we now have a system that produces injury-risk assessments to three different degrees. CHIPPER projects ratings for players based on their injury history—these ratings measure the probability of a player missing one or more games, 15 or more games, or 30 or more games. CHIPPER will have additional features added to it throughout the spring and early season that will enhance the accuracy of our injury coverage.
These ratings are also available in the Player Forecast Manager (pfm.baseballprospectus.com), where they'll be sortable by league or position—you won’t have to wait for us to finish writing this series in order to see the health ratings for all of the players.
J.A. Happ has pitched well since joining the Astros--is he someone you should be paying attention to?
When J.A. Happ was dealt to the Houston Astros earlier this season as one of the centerpieces in the Roy Oswalt deal, it was leaked that there were those in the Astros organization who thought Happ was a Cliff Lee type pitcher. Lee has been a dominating force and one of the most productive pitchers in baseball for the past three seasons, so it seemed an odd comparison to make, given Happ's track record in terms of his peripherals--he whiffs opponents around an average rate and walks too many hitters to post a quality K/BB like Lee does. Despite this, Happ has pitched well since the deal, posting an ERA of 3.21 while winning five of his eight starts for the 'Stros.
It seems there are two camps when it comes to Happ--the one that thinks he's a high quality pitcher as evidenced by his ERAs, and the one that thinks he is a league average hurler who has been lucky in terms of ERA. He has certainly given the former some ammunition this season, with a 2.86 ERA across 63 innings, but it's that number at the back that's important to remember--it's just 63 innings, and his peripherals do not support this ERA. Happ is striking out 6.9 hitters per nine, right at the league average for starting pitchers, while giving out unintentional free passes to 4.7 per nine. His K/BB is 1.4, well below the league average of 2.2, as well as nowhere near the realm of being able to support that ERA.