It is important to maintain the fundamental rules of society. One of those rules being, respect your elders. Last week, I introduced luck regression candidates with less than 400 career innings pitched, and piggybacking off of that premise we must also account for our Restored Vets. In order to identify Restored Veteran pitchers who suffered from poor luck in 2019 I performed the following:
- Gathered all starting pitchers with over 50 innings pitched in 2019. Thanks, Fangraphs.
- Removed pitchers with less than 400 career innings pitched to isolate for Restored Vets.
- Sorted to find only pitchers whose ERA was 0.5 greater than one of FIP, xFIP, or SIERA.
- Eliminated any pitchers who did not have a metric under 4.5.
- Deleted any pitchers without a top 30 WAR season in the past 3 years.
The result? 9 pitchers. I’ve removed 4 of those for reasons noted at the bottom. The rest of the group is evaluated below:
Noah Syndergaard: NFBC ADP – 72, ERA – 4.28, FIP – 3.6
Syndergaard has always been a point of frustration for me. It seems that every outing contains an inevitable inning where the first two batters get on base and he simply never gets out of it. It drives me up a wall. Although Syndergaard populated on this list, I am not targeting him for the 2020 season. Syndergaard is seemingly making a transformation as a pitcher who avoids bats to a pitcher who finds bats and generates weak contact. In making this transition, Syndergaard moved away from his power slider in 2019 for more fastball usage. The slider velocity dropped to under 90 MPH for the first time. The pitch generated both whiffs and swings at a lower rate than his career norms. Syndergaard remains a useful pitcher, but drafters should note that the days of a 10+ K/9 are likely gone. This approach will naturally raise his WHIP. The prospect of Syndergaard generating 200 strikeouts, or a WHIP lower than 1.20 as a contact first pitcher is low. When reconciling these changes with his injury downside and sheer inability to generate wins (primarily luck driven) makes Noah correctly valued according to ADP and unlikely to make a jump into SP1 territory.
Robbie Ray: NFBC ADP – 152, ERA – 4.34, xFIP – 3.76
Robbie Ray is an enigma. He has as much strikeout upside as can be found in the double-digit rounds. In 2019, he displayed an ability to approach 250 strikeouts in only 175 innings pitched. Ray has shown the ability to reduce his walk rate in 2017 and during portions of the 2019 season. In Ray’s most successful season (2017) he threw his fastball and sinker at a 60% rate and his slider at a 20% rate. In July 2019, Ray threw his fastball and sinker at nearly 60%, and had his slider rate at under 25%. The result? A 3.26 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 13 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9. I do not know how any pitching coach could review a season and not conclude that this is the appropriate pitch mix. I’m assuming rational coaching and pitching. I am assuming Ray can do it over a complete season. Based on those assumptions I am targeting Ray, depending on team construction and league type. Ray can approach 14/250/3.50/1.20 at only 180 innings pitched with a reduced walk rate. That is an SP1.
German Marquez: NFBC ADP – 175, ERA – 4.76, xFIP – 3.54, SIERA – 3.85
Marquez was an upside favorite of the 2019 draft season after an explosive second half in 2018. He was steamed up deep into the top 100 picks of drafts. Those who drafted Marquez quickly learned once again that Coors Field is undefeated. Marquez had a 6.26 ERA at home and 3.67 ERA on the road. Oddly, Marquez had a better K%-BB% at home than on the road, but Coors evened that out with a home BABIP at .380 and a LOB% at 65%. His ADP has perhaps over-corrected itself year over year, but I won’t be taking advantage. Marquez will certainly be useful on the road, but we all know how impossible it is to judge when the poor Coors outings are coming. The investment necessary to obtain a pitcher with low wins upside and significant ERA/WHIP risk doesn’t seem to have enough positives to outweigh the negatives. I hope Marquez gets released from the shackles of Coors Field at some point in the 2020 off-season.
Chris Archer: NFBC ADP – 266, ERA – 5.19, xFIP – 4.36
Archer had a useful four season run from 2014-2017. That player has been non-existent for two consecutive seasons. Archer had a 3-start run to finish the 2019 season that could point in his favor for 2020. However, I’m not so bullish. Even when successful, Archer was always hit hard when the opponents generated contact. He is frequently below average in hard hit percentage and exit velocity. To be successful he must miss bats at a high rate. He only has a single pitch in his arsenal capable of missing bats, his slider. Archer’s slider is good. Archer’s slider is not great. He has above average command of it. It draws a ton of swings, but the whiff rate on the pitch simply does not match up to other elite sliders at 21.7% from the 2018 and 2019 seasons. In that same time frame, Patrick Corbin has missed bats at a 29% rate on his slider, and Jack Flaherty has generated a 24% whiff percentage. In this same time frame, Archers batting average against on the pitch is about 5% higher with a 5% higher line drive rate per ball in play than both Corbin and Flaherty. Archer is a pitcher on a very bad team, who is reliant on a slider that is simply above average, and not elite, to survive. I’ll use my draft capital elsewhere.
Jose Quintana: NFBC ADP – 324, ERA – 4.8, FIP – 3.85
The mid-decade sabermatricians dream pitcher has hit rough times since he switched jerseys from the South of Chicago to North. Quintana, even in his most successful seasons, was never a pitcher who possessed a power arsenal. He frequently finished seasons with a K/9 under 8 and a swinging strike rate under 9%. In those years he found success with heavy fastball usage and possessing secondary pitches that were just good enough. Over the last two years that has not been the case, as both Quintana’s curveball and changeup have become more hittable. The batting average against and slugging percentage against Quintana’s secondary offerings have spiked as players have been able to lift them more. This has led to Quintana giving up more HR/FB than earlier in his career. Quintana has a use in deeper league with wins upside while providing volume. However, he has slowly morphed into a pitcher whose most likely outcome is to finish with an ERA above 4.2. As a pitcher who has always had a high WHIP, giving up a few more line drives per outing has a big effect. I’ll pass on Quintana becoming a Restored Vet in 2020.
Pitchers meeting criteria with extenuating circumstances: Carlos Carrasco