We might be in the "Era of the Pitcher," but does that mean that the league is teeming with top-shelf arms?
Early last week, I reintroduced the concept of the Holy Trinity and outlined the 19 starting pitchers who qualified for the elite status. Furthermore, I argued that Holy Trinity pitchers, on average, significantly outperform the league-average pitcher. While that’s not a groundbreaking discovery, the estimated margin of 1.00 ERA for any HT pitcher over the league-average starter is remarkable enough to perhaps persuade fantasy owners to specifically alter their draft board in order to target them.
However, the HT list from 2014 is merely a piece of the puzzle. It begs the question: Are HT pitchers increasing in frequency as pitching continues to dominate across Major League Baseball?
In their recent “position paper” on preventing elbow injuries in Major League (and Minor League and College and High School and Little League) Baseball, Drs. James Andrews and Glen Fleisig had an interesting recommendation for young pitchers: Don’t throw with 100 percent effort on every pitch. The arm, particularly the elbow, isn’t made to take that much stress all the time.
How do we know which hurlers will have long careers?
In the recent past, we’ve seen the rise of a generation of young and highly talented pitchers. From Corey Kluber to Chris Sale, from international acquisitions like Masahiro Tanaka to the sadly injured Jose Fernandez, young hurlers occupy an increasing share of the game’s best pitching matchups. Indeed, of the leaders in this year’s Cy Young race, only four of the top 10 are over 30. It’s easy to forget that even veteran aces Felix Hernandez and Johnny Cueto are still only 28. With the exception of some old stalwarts like Adam Wainwright and Mark Buerhle, the game’s best and brightest seem to be tilting toward youth.
If it seems to be the case, that’s only because it is. Younger pitchers are piling up the WAR(P) at an accelerated rate relative to the past couple of decades.
Can we detect signs of impending injury in the start BEFORE a pitcher's fateful outing?
Last week, I wrote about Jose Fernandez, his attorney’s comments about the cause of his season-ending injury, and warning signs that preceded his exit from his final start of 2014. After I wrote that article, I began to think more about the righty’s second-to-last start. Could this injury have been prevented a week earlier? I also took to heart a popular criticism of the “injury zone” research supporting that article. Some argue that it doesn’t identify injury risk in time to actually prevent a ligament from tearing, and that it instead picks up on injuries that have already occurred.
Are recent Tommy John surgery victims about to become a new kind of contract extension candidate?
About a year ago, Sam Millerspeculated about the future of contract extensions, which had by then been embraced by big-market teams after years of mostly being the province of small-market clubs. “When that happens,” Sam wrote, “the market inefficiency might as well be gone.” To regain an edge, teams would have to get more creative with the kind of extensions they offered.
One of Sam’s suggestions was that we might start to see much longer extensions—contracts that would pay a player for 15 years or more. That hasn’t happened yet. However, Sam made two more predictions that have come to pass. First, he suggested that a team might offer a player an extension before his big-league debut, which has since occurred in the cases of George Springer and the Astros and Gregory Polanco and the Pirates. And second, he proposed that teams that lock up more marginal players than had previously been considered extendable. “Of the 20 players who have signed extensions longer than four years since the start of last season, all are, if not stars, something close to it,” Sam wrote. Since then, non-stars Jedd Gyorko, Yan Gomes (debatable), and Jose Quintana have signed five-year deals, not to mention Michael Brantley and Sean Doolittle, who’ve inked four-year pacts.
These five top-100 arms could help your fantasy team in the near future.
As the spring builds up and draws to a close, there is a lot to pay attention to. One of said things is the impression that prospects make in camp that can either win them an unexpected spot on a team’s roster or put them in better position for a call-up once the season gets going. Here are five players with prospect eligibility (for fantasy purposes, we don’t care about service time) who are making a positive impression this spring that could lead to heightened fantasy value in 2014.
Carlos Martinez, P, St. Louis Cardinals
The recipient of far too many Pedro Martinez comps in the minor leagues (he’s a vertically-challenged Dominican starter with great raw stuff, so of course Pedro, duh), Martinez is being given a legitimate shot to beat out Joe Kelly for the final spot in the Cardinals’ rotation this spring. This opportunity was made possible by yet another Jaime Garcia shoulder setback, but if it happens, it could vault Martinez’ fantasy star through the roof.
Over the past few weeks, I've been taking an in-depth look at a single decision made by a manager: Tim Lincecum's 148-pitch no-hitter from a few weeks ago. Bruce Bochy left Lincecum in well past the usual 100-pitch limit to give him a chance at baseball immortality. But at what cost? We've seen that if a pitcher makes his next start on regular rest, there is a small carry-over effect of throwing a lot of pitches, but it's not all that big and it might even just be a methodological quirk anyway. We've seen some evidence that taking a pitcher out of a shutout (not necessarily a no-hitter) doesn't seem to affect him for good or for ill. But what about the obvious question. Are marathon pitching sessions penny-wise and pound-foolish?