Quick Hits

Quick Hits 6/29/16

Thoughts on four pitchers moving forward.

Zach Davies

  • Davies has a good K rate (21.2%) and a good BB rate (6.8%) in 74.66 IPs. His 3.74 ERA is backed up with a 3.99 FIP, 3.96 xFIP, and 4.04 SIERA. He hasn’t been terribly lucky but his 8% swinging strike rate doesn’t quite fit with a 20+ K rate. Among pitchers with at least 70 IPs, Davies has the 21st worst swinging strike rate. Davies is generating Ks by painting corners. His 31.5% strike looking rate (note that this is a Bref stat and the denominator is number of strikes and not number of pitches like with Fangraphs) is 11th in the majors. It’s hard to know if this is truly a skill or a result of some luck with such a small sample. I ran some numbers from 2015 to 2009 the year to year correlation of the strike looking rate was only 36.4%. Even if Davies does possess the ability to generate called strikes, he’s not likely to repeat it the following season. It’s hard to draw strong conclusions here but I’d lean toward staying the course with Davies. If he has a string of starts where the K rate drops, I’d bail pretty quickly.

James Paxton

  • This is the Paxton we were all hoping for but how long can he maintain a 25.5% K rate and a 6.8% BB rate when both are much better than his career norms. The main reason for his run has been an increase in average fastball velocity from around 94 to 97.1. I am extremely skeptical that he can maintain that over anything resembling a large sample size, but I’d ride the streak while it lasts. His 12.3% swinging strike rate is damn near elite. Don’t worry so much about his 4.15 ERA because his 2.87 FIP, 3.28 xFIP and 3.51 SIERA paint a much better picture. I’m not sure he can make it to September but definitely ride this while it lasts.

Danny Duffy (all stats only as Starter)

  • Danny Duffy was fantastic in relief early in the season and has largely carried that over to the rotation with a 3.33 ERA as a starter. Duffy (like the other two above) isn’t someone I’d rely on for the rest of the season but I’m enjoying this for the time being. His 30.2% K rate and 5.7% BB rate are great and he’s really only getting killed by HRs (1.85 HR/9 which is likely inflated by a 16.7% HR/FB). This explains the 4.31 FIP and the 3.69 xFIP. Given that Kauffman isn’t exactly a launching pad and that Duffy hasn’t ever struggled like this with HRs, I buy the xFIP much more than the FIP. We will likely see some regression on the 30.2% K rate but he should finish the year with a sub 3.5 ERA and plenty of strikeouts.

Michael Fulmer 

  • This might not be a popular opinion but in a non-keeper/dynasty it’s time to sell Fulmer. There is plenty to like about Fulmer, namely the 22.8% K rate and 11% swinging strike rate. However there just isn’t anything else backing up his 2.4 ERA. Fulmer has been very lucky in both batted balls and stranding runners. His BABIP against this year is .260 but his contact profile doesn’t indicate anything specifically he is doing to prevent good contact. He’s about average in both contact speed and contact type. He also has an 86.2% LOB rate which is almost certainly a direct result of his low BABIP given his propensity to put guys on base at a 9.1% clip. It’s no wonder that Fulmer has a 3.82 FIP, 4.06 xFIP and 4.11 SIERA. My other concern about Fulmer is an innings limit. Fulmer’s max IP at any professional level is 124.66 in 2015. If we assume the Tigers will allow a 20% increase that puts Fulmer at about 150 IP maximum. That leaves him with about 70 innings left which equates to about 12 starts for him. Given that most teams have around 85 games left, that means Fulmer is on pace to miss nearly all of September. Now things can definitely change and a lot will depend on if the Tigers are in the race but I think there’s a high chance that Fulmer’s season is done in the first week of September. Fulmer’s value is probably at its peak in a standard league and the cash in could be lucrative if you decide to sell.
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