September 27, 2021

AL East Positional Analysis And Ranking: Starting Rotation (No. 5 Starter)

February 27, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

I am in the midst of a series examining the relative strengths and weaknesses of the teams in the AL East, on a position-by-position basis. The players at each position are being ranked in relation to their peers within the division, with each team being assigned points based on where their player ranks in comparison to the other players.

Today, the series continues with a look at the No. 5 starters in each rotation.

The best player will earn 10 points for his team, with the remaining players being assigned points as follows: 7-5-3-1.

At the end of the process, I will accumulate all of the points for each team and create a divisional power ranking.

Analysis / Ranking:

Here are the 2010 statistics for each of the five projected starters entering the 2011 season. The chart presents the five basic stats used in fantasy baseball, plus ERA+ and Runs Above Replacement (RAR). The rankings contained herein are based on these stats, plus projections as to what the upcoming year may have in store.

1. Wade Davis, TB

Davis is clearly the best of a bad lot (of course, what do you expect from a quintet of NUMBER FIVE starters?). He improved significantly from the first half to the second half (from a 4.86 ERA to a 3.22 ERA), although his second-half xERA indicates he may have been more lucky than good (his hit rate was 28% and strand rate was 77% after the all-star break). He had a .274 BABIP for the year, so there was an element of luck to his entire season.

His major peripherals all improved from the first half to the second half with the exception of BABIP. His ERA, WHIP, BAA, OBP, Slugging percentage, strikeout-to-walk ratio and home run rate (hr/fb) all saw dramatic improvements.

For fantasy owners: Davis is a nice pitcher for what he is (a 5th starter) but don’t bid too much for him. He pitches to contact – his Command was just a 1.8 (which is well below the 2.5 (minimum) that I look for in a starting pitcher). His GO/AO was just 0.78 – in combination with his home run rate it appears he is not going to reduce his hr/9 (1.3). It says here that he’ll win 13 games, with a 4.20 ERA amd 1.40+ WHIP.

2. Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOS

After Davis, the pickings are really slim. Dice-K gets the nod here because Nova is a rookie and both Duchscherer and Litsch have had trouble even staying on the field (as has Dice-K, but not to the same extent).

Matsuzaka has not lived up to the hype, and it is becoming increasingly obvious he never will. Why? The list goes on and on. Different cultures. Different training methods. Different strike zones. Arm trouble. Inability to throw strikes. Arrogance. Who knows?

The horrible thing is that the talent is there – as such he is a tease who could one day provide a huge dividend to his fantasy owner.

For fantasy owners: But that owner won’t be me! He walks too many hitters (4.3/9IP) and has a disturbingly-low Command (1.8) and GO/AO ratio (0.62). He had a low hit rate (29%) and an extremely low strand rate (66%)… it appears some correction in the stats are forthcoming. I can see him winning a dozen games, but he will compile an ERA around 4.50 and WHIP of 1.50.

3. Ivan Nova, NYY

I know the Yankees fans will rate Nova ahead of Matsuzaka, but I cannot get too excited about Nova at this point – ten games do not make a career. He may prove to be better than Dice-K this year, but he also may end up in Triple-A.

I was very impressed with Nova’s ability to induce grounders (his GO/AO was a robust 1.33), but otherwise he looked very hittable when I saw him pitch. He was very inconsistent from game to game, and he allowed more than a hit per inning pitched and walked too many batters, although he struck out enough hitters that his Command did nudge 2.0.

For fantasy owners: Nova’s numbers last year were better than his minor league numbers in some regards, so I am not sure they are sustainable. He has typically walked too many batters and allowed around one hit per inning pitched – that will not get him especially far in the AL East. At best, he makes a fifteen starts, winning six games and posting a 4.50+ ERA… the Yankees will make a trade or re-sign Andy Pettitte and that means Nova will be playing in the International Baseball.

4. Justin Duchscherer, BAL

The former Red Sox farmhand has been routinely brilliant when healthy. Alas, his health (elbow, hip) has kept him off the field for most of the last five years. Only once in his career did he pitch as many as 140 innings (he was 10-8, 2.54 in 22 starts for the Oakland A’s in 2008). In the other four years since 2006, he pitched a grand total of 100 innings (he missed all of 2009 and was shut down early last year due to hip woes).

For fantasy owners: Duchscherer would make a nice selection at the end of your auction or draft… even better if you could get him in your reserve rounds. You simply can’t plug him into your rotation and then depend on him to remain healthy. That said, you might be well-advised to grab him and then pair him with prospect Zach Britton. The guess here is the Orioles signed him hoping to get a half-season from him – filling a rotation slot while giving Britton another half-season in Norfolk (Triple-A).

5. Jesse Litsch, TOR

Litsch had a very solid big league debut in 2007, posting a 7-9 record with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. He followed that up with an even better 2008 season, but suffered an elbow injury in 2009 that required Tommy John surgery. Then, after returning to action last year, he suffered a hip injury that shut him down once again.

For fantasy owners: Like Duchscherer, Litsch has to prove he is worth owning in AL-only formats, let alone mixed-leagues. At this point, it is nearly impossible to determine whether he has any value for fantasy owners. Last year he was largely ineffective in nine starts, but that was likely the lingering effects of his TJ surgery. While he is another year removed from his elbow injuries, he now has to deal with the consequences of his hip surgery. Watch him in spring training. He could be worth a flier in your reserve rounds if he shows that he has re-gained his ability to induce a fair number of ground balls (his GO/AO for 2007-08 was 1.30).


One Response to “AL East Positional Analysis And Ranking: Starting Rotation (No. 5 Starter)”
  1. Paul Dunn says:

    This is one Yankee fan who would take Dice-K over Nova. I agree that he is a mystery or misery (if your a Sox fan). He has great stuff, good fastball, and a good assortment of other pitches, so why doesn’t he win more ? I have seen Dice-K pitch many times, but one game stands out. It was two years ago and the Red Sox were closing out the final game of an opening three game series against the Rays. In the first inning Dice-K had little difficulty using his fast ball to toy with Tampa Bay hitters. However, after the first inning he starts to run counts and is throwing a combination of off-speed and breaking ball pitches. He gets cuffed around pretty good but manages to stay in the game. My point is- that Dice-K often has these lapses. This has been a pattern with him since the Sox signed him. The question is why he is so inconsistent and why does he change his pitching pattern ? Jeffery, I would still take him primarily because he can still throw hard and could still turn it around. I will admit he is a gamble but with the Yankees-compared to who ?

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