It’s almost time to think about next year. I don’t mean that as an A’s fan — that works too — but more in the terms of keeper and dynasty leagues. Keeping pitchers can be a very risky proposition given their tendency to get injured, making the call on a pitcher a tricky one. For now, lets take a look at current Chicago White Sox and soon-to-be free agent Jeff Samardzija. Other than a 4.35 ERA, there are multiple red flags on the Shark’s pitching profile. A dip in swinging strike rate, K/9 and K-rate to go with a four year high in FIP and xFIP are all trends going in the wrong directions.

As the 30-year-0ld continues to pitch his four big leagues strictly as a starter, we have a good amount of innings to look at. Unsurprisingly, Samardzija has lost a bit of speed on his fastball as he ages, declining from a season high 96 mph in 2012 to 94 this season. Going to the good folks at Brooks Baseball, observe the table below recording his average velocity.

Year Fourseam Sinker Slider Curve Cutter Split
2012 96.13 95.6 85.12 78 92.41 86.78
2013 95.63 95.36 84.79 0 92.34 84.82
2014 95.59 95.47 86.8 0 93.77 86.34
2015 94.42 95.05 85.29 0 93.05 85.06

Samardzija tossed 45 curveballs back in 2012 and according to the PITCHf/x algorithm and hand charting, he hasn’t throw one since. He’s substituted the curve in exchange for a higher usage rate in a slider and cutter, as shown below via Brooks once again.

Year Fourseam Sinker Cutter Curve Slider Split
2012 32.13% 22.06% 9.74% 1.61% 15.65% 18.77%
2013 26.05% 27.67% 10.4% 0 19.83% 16.02%
2014 23.14% 31.05% 12.63% 0 21.37% 11.81%
2015 20.21% 22.43% 22.84% 0 22.11% 12.28%

The dip Shark’s whiff rate is also worrisome given the relationship between swinging strikes and strikeout rate. Keep in mind pitch sequencing can play a large role in the outcome of a plate appearance, however it is worth emphasizing that as he increases his cutter usage, his swinging strike rate dips. Despite a much improved walk rate, Samardzija has also seen his K%-BB% dip as well. While not a fantasy stat, I’m quite fond of K%-BB% for helping whittle down high WHIP starting pitchers who have simply given up a lot of hits, beyond what BABIP+HR shows. For my usage, I like using K%-BB% to display guys who merely miss bats to the list of pitchers who can miss bats while also limited free passes.

Year SwStr% Contact% K% K/9
2012 12.1% 74.8% 24.9% 9.27
2013 10.7% 77.1% 23.4% 9.01
2014 11.1% 77.3% 23% 8.28
2014 9.9% 80.4% 17.9% 6.71

Without a huge shift in BABIP over the previous four years — even his .298 mark this season compares well enough verses his .294 career BABIP — and even a dipping home run, Samardizja is suffering from poor sequencing in the terms of his outcomes with runners on base. This year he owns a 3.64 FIP with runners on, however his 9.24 ERA tells a pretty brutal story when it comes to sequence of events. The 5.61 gap between his FIP and ERA is eighth highest among 98 qualified starters. The Shark’s difficulties with runners isn’t something particularly new for him, as going back to the 2012 season again his 3.70 FIP versus a 7.86 ERA with men on rates as the 12th largest gap among 86 qualified starters.

The improved walk rate has come attached to a decreased strikeout rate, most likely due to the shift in his pitch repertoire. Samardzija will be 31 by the time spring training rolls around and his fastball has dipped a bit. His secondary pitch velocity remains fine, however he just isn’t getting the swings and misses like he used, contributing to his lower strikeout total. I’ve owned the Shark in many leagues over the years, but now it seems like I finally have to throw him back to free agency. I’m willing to take a risk on him if I can catch at a good price in the draft, but I’m not sure I could draft him with comfort if I’m relying on him as my SP2 type pitcher. Until I see more whiffs, Samarzija will be a SP3 with a SP2 upside; not exactly a keeper in most leagues.

 

 

 
  1. Drafting Kluber and Shark as my first two pitchers, respectively put me in a deep hole this year. Shark is a guy I’ll never touch again. The fact that I’m currently tied for first is a real testament to all of the great intel I get from Razzball. Long live Streamy!

    Also, speaking of Kluber, I’d love to know the last time a pitcher followed a Cy Young season with such an inconsistent year. Between Kluber and Carrasco (whom I also own) I’m gonna be pretty hesitant to draft Indians pitchers going forward. Their coaching staff doesn’t seem to be very good at correcting course.

    • Davidwiers

      Davidwiers says:
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      @Hugman: As someone who has Shark and Stras in a league, yeah, I feel your pain.

      I’d have to have a clearer definition of inconsistent, but I think looking up by game score, while far from perfect, would begin to paint the edges of the picture. Couldn’t be too hard to run.

    • Bread N Mustard says:
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      @Hugman: It is very common for a pitcher to have an inconsistent year following a Cy Young season. It happened to Roy Halladay, Zack Greinke, Bartolo Colon, Jack McDowell, Bret Saberhagen and many others.

      • Davidwiers

        Davidwiers says:
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        @Bread N Mustard: Probably a mix of regression + the book being out on someone.

      • @Bread N Mustard: Yeah. I’m not big on googling. All I know is I had to work my ass of (thanks to Streamy) to get my era below 4 after Shark and Klube’s horrible starts. And the last couple games Kluber’s been more like Cluber. See what I did there?

    • Alex says:
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      @Hugman: Dude, as someone who drafted Kluber and Shark, and then eventually Carrasco, I feel your pain.

  2. Sport says:
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    Good timing in the write up for keeper pitchers. I’m definitely steering clearing of the Shark. I am in a 15 team roto keeper, must keep 2 hitters and 2 pitchers. I have Arrieta, but next options at pitcher are Corrasco and Salazar. Corrasco seems like the logical choice but he has been so bipolar. Should I shop for a more reliable arm?

    Thanks for the help and write up!

    • Davidwiers

      Davidwiers says:
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      @Sport: If you have to, I’d shop Salazar. His 3.47 ERA is more enticing, even if Carrasco has the better FIP. Keep Carrasco so you’re not selling low on him. I think he’ll be the better pitcher RoS.

  3. Elliot

    Elliot says:
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    Wait, Miguel Sano is the Shark. You’ll need to talk to Tehol about this.

    • Davidwiers

      Davidwiers says:
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      @Elliot: We will settle this in the Octagon.

      Of course, the Octagon being a LAN center where we can 1v1 in TF2 or something.

    • J-FOH says:
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      @Elliot: no, the Shark has been the Shark her for years. We’ve been working on a name for Sano here. The Sanolanche, Sanomatic, Sanomite…we’re open to ideas. I’ll step into the octagon with Tehol over this, David is too new here

      • Davidwiers

        Davidwiers says:
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        @J-FOH: The Abominable Sano-Man?

        • J-FOH says:
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          @Davidwiers: I’ll bring it up to grey

      • @J-FOH: I propose we give Shark to Sano and change Jeff to Shart.

  4. Scott says:
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    What’s your outlook in a 14 team dynasty league for Matt Moore? Is he a guy that is worth stashing or should one try to salvage any value for him now.

    • Davidwiers

      Davidwiers says:
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      @Scott: Velo was down on his four-seamer and cutter this season…Don’t get me started on his control. I think he can be very good again, and in a deep 14-teamer, yeah, I could see him having value next year and beyond.

  5. The HAND OF SAGNOF says:
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    Keeper trade question(no salaries 6×6 with K/BB and SLG)… 9tm league with unlimited moves tons of good SP for streaming.
    Scherzer, Matz,Joc or Carrasco, Carlos Martinez, Adam Jones, Puig…which side you taking?

    • Davidwiers

      Davidwiers says:
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      @The HAND OF SAGNOF: I’ll take the Scherzer/Matz/Joc side.

  6. You know nothing, J.T. Snow says:
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    I am hopeful that Shark will be fine next year. I’ve watched a lot of his starts. The pitch selection is atrocious most of the time. Geovany Soto is an atrocious catcher in terms of anything defensively. Also, the White Sox defense as a whole has been brutal behind him and his first inning ERA is monstrous, but he’s been pretty good after that (besides Sunday). I think that if he gets a change of scenery he will be fine. If he stays in Chicago, steer clear.

  7. David says:
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    Keeper league, keep 6 for as long (or not) as you want. You must keep a minimum of 2 pitchers. Offensively obp replaces avg. QS replaces wins for pitchers. Which 6 do you keep, remembering you have to keep at least 2 pitchers. Bum, Harvey, Tyson, Kluber, Pederson, Rizzo, Stanton, Franco, Pollack. Thanks

    • Davidwiers

      Davidwiers says:
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      @David: Bum and Harvey are my SP to keep for sure. Probably Pederson, Rizzo, Stanton and Franco next. Kluber over Franco would be acceptable as well.

  8. David says:
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    That was Tyson Ross. Thanks

  9. David says:
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    Thank you…so just so I’m clear, you like Franco more than Pollack?

    • Davidwiers

      Davidwiers says:
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      @David: Correct!

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