*If you’re unfamiliar with these projections, please read the Primer on Steamer Projections
The Arizona rotation did not grade out particularly well in 2013. Although Patrick Corbin had an unexpected breakout, several rotation members disappointed. Ian Kennedy pitched himself right out of a Diamondbacks uniform, Brandon McCarthy never got it together and Trevor Cahill was wildly inconsistent. Wade Miley came around in the second half and Randall Delgado seemed to grow with each start although he really wasn’t all that good. How does Steamer see this staff in 2014? Let’s have a look.
Patrick Corbin was in a battle to make the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day roster all the way through the end of Spring Training. He hung on to the fifth starter job and never looked back. Unfortunately, he isn’t forecast for the same type of season in 2014, although Steamer still sees a very productive one. The only notable difference going forward is that Steamer expects his BABIP to get closer to league average next year, resulting in more hits, runs allowed and ultimately slightly less productivity. It does forecast similar strikeout, walk and homerun rates, which is a good sign.
The Steamer Essentials: expect another good year from Corbin but not an excellent one like 2013.
To say Brandon McCarthy’s season was snake-bitten is an understatement. Seemingly, nothing went right for him in 2013. Steamer sees his BABIP coming down closer to league average, resulting in fewer hits and runs. Durability, however, is still a concern as McCarthy has logged more than 135 innings only once in his career (2011). His rate stats are expected to hold up and if Brandon does, too, he can be a very useful player.
The Steamer Essentials: McCarthy’s performance in 2013 was incredibly unlucky and his 2014 should be closer to normal for him, although durability remains a major concern.
It was an up and down year for Trevor Cahill. He just never seemed to settle in and walked too many batters to really be effective. Durability was also an issue as he missed over a month due to a hip contusion, which perhaps led to some of his wildness. In 2014, Steamer projects slightly fewer walks, slightly fewer homeruns and slightly more strikeouts, a welcomed recipe for Cahill and Diamondbacks fans alike. With that said, Cahill looks like a pretty pedestrian pitcher going forward as his strikeout rate is well below dominant and he still walks more than he should.
The Steamer Essentials: look for Cahill to rebound but keep your expectations tempered as his pure stuff will keep him from being a dominant force.
It was the tale of two halves for Wade Miley as he looked utterly lost in the first half of the season, only to really find himself after the All Star Break and save his campaign. While Steamer can’t predict the number of hunting and fishing references made on his behalf by the broadcast team, it can and does see another productive season for Wade. While it’s unclear if he’ll be more consistent, his true talent level is projected to lie somewhere between his awful first half results and his outstanding second half ones.
The Steamer Essentials: expect more of the same from Miley as he appears to be steady going forward as a solid back-end starter.
Randall Delgado undoubtedly took a step forward in 2013. His season started out a little rough but seemed to really improve down the stretch. There was even a span of a few weeks when he was consistently the best Diamondbacks starter (which may speak more to the other four guys). His 2013 BABIP was ridiculously low at .266 and Steamer rightfully projects a return to league average. He also cut his walk rate in half last year and that’s not projected to stand. Even with some changes towards normalcy, Steamer likes him to be an average starter, which at the league minimum salary, is nothing to complain about.
The Steamer Essentials: Delgado’s line was a little weird in 2013 and it should regress to the mean, but that still places him as an average, if unspectacular, back-end pitcher.
Quick Notes: Archie Bradley is likely to make some contribution this year, either in the ‘pen or in the rotation. When he arrives is anyone’s guess but you can pencil me in for a date after the All Star Break if we’re making guesses. His Steamer projections are mostly inconsequential at this point. Zeke Spruill is another arm likely to get some innings, especially with the departure of David Holmberg. In short, Steamer thinks his 2013 results were pretty flukey, which I’d completely agree with, due to small sample size issues. Even with some movement towards league averages, Spruill doesn’t look to be anything above replacement level.
In Sum: don’t expect the rotation to be a whole lot better in 2014 than it was in 2013. There should be some small improvements from McCarthy and Cahill and maybe some more growth from Delgado. Corbin can’t and shouldn’t be expected to repeat his 2013 campaign but will still be the best pitcher on the staff. Steamer expects Wade Miley to do his thing and that means we can expect relatively similar production from the starting staff in 2014 as we saw last year. The wild card here is clearly Archie Bradley and that remains anyone’s guess. Of course, there could still be a deal made for a starting pitcher on the free agent market or via trade (unlikely) and we’ll cross that bridge if/when we get there.
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FanGraphs Stats Glossary
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Previously on The Pool Shot, the guys explained some of their favorite advanced stats. Hitting, including wRC+, HHAV and batted ball; pitching (38:00), including FIP, xFIP and SIERA; and baserunning and defense, including UBR, UZR and DRS (58:00).