Projections Update: Pitchers

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Last week, I took a look at how the A’s hitters were performing relative to the preseason projections. Today, it’s time to look at the pitching and how they have done so far.

We said last week that the A's position players were worth 9.2 fWAR at the time (Update: 10.8 this week). It may be hard to believe, but it is those position players who have been more valuable thus far than the pitching, which currently stands at 7.4 fWAR. Let's see how this breaks down similarly to the way we did it last week.

Word of note: I'm including information on relief pitchers in here just because it is fun, but relievers are notoriously fungible. It's not really useful to say that one reliever is under- or over-performing. This is due to their intermittent usage patterns, and in general, it being foolhardy to attempt to predict reliever performance with anything but massive error bars.

Below, I have made a table of the A's players who have had at least 15 IP this season (basically, the guys who were on the Opening Day roster) from Fangraphs, and the preseason A's projections page. That means that Dan Otero and Hideki Okajima don't qualify for this group. Starters are listed first.

Player

Current

ZIPS (Preseason)

ZIPS (Updated)

IP

ERA

FIP

IP

ERA

FIP

IP

ERA

FIP

Bartolo Colon

90.1

2.89

3.25

127.0

4.11

4.02

171.0

3.39

3.48

Dan Straily

63.1

4.97

3.56

170.0

4.18

4.51

153.0

4.45

3.99

Tommy Milone

89.2

3.61

4.13

173.3

3.95

3.53

188.0

3.94

3.89

A.J. Griffin

89.1

3.93

4.32

171.3

4.20

4.30

188.0

4.14

4.31

Brett Anderson

29.0

6.21

3.96

83.3

4.00

3.87

73.0

4.96

3.90

Jarrod Parker

83.0

4.45

5.02

195.7

3.77

3.58

189.0

4.31

4.39

Ryan Cook

30.2

2.35

1.88

68.3

3.43

3.65

69.0

2.76

2.61

Sean Doolittle

31.0

3.48

2.96

71.3

3.16

3.08

70.0

3.34

3.00

Jerry Blevins

31.2

1.99

3.09

57.0

3.79

3.99

65.0

2.82

3.41

Grant Balfour

28.2

1.26

3.65

57.3

3.14

3.34

61.0

2.35

3.52

Pat Neshek

23.2

2.28

3.48

56.7

3.49

3.43

55.0

3.06

3.44

Chris Resop

18.0

6.00

5.78

58.7

4.30

3.83

48.0

5.16

4.89

Evan Scribner

18.2

5.30

4.88

59.0

4.27

4.16

49.0

4.83

4.51

First, let's look at the starters as a whole. Glaringly obvious, Brett Anderson stands out as not only being disappointing in the numbers of innings he has been able to log, but the stark prediction ringing true by ZIPS of him only pitching about 83 innings. What's more, he'll be lucky to even reach that, as by all accounts, his stress fractured foot is not healing on schedule. So, while it's hard to project someone like Josh Donaldson, who has taken time to acclimate by level throughout his career, projecting someone with an injury history may be easier in some respects. On a more positive note, Bartolo Colon is surpassing all his expectations, and is pitching like he's in Cleveland all over again. Barring unforeseen injury or a wall of ineffectiveness, he will turn in a full season of above-average starts. Not bad for a guy who is 40 years old and shaped like a gummy bear. Maybe Anderson should consider gaining some weight?

As for the relievers, again, keep in mind that it's hard to project this stuff, especially when usage patterns are taken into account. Jerry Blevins is also surpassing his expectations and continues to be criminally underrated. With a high workload and a 1.99 ERA, he has already banked a good chance to stay under 3 when the season ends. Of course, with that usage pattern warning in mind, one could have easily predicted the relievers who would end up in AAA (or released) by the projections themselves. With their projected low innings totals and pedestrian ERAs and FIPs, Chris Resop and Evan Scribner have made themselves expendable.

Again, while these projections are not perfect, they seem to do a decent job of at least showing who is least likely to succeed. Perhaps it is that mediocre or injury-riddled performances are easier to predict by the nature of the player (either just not that good or chronically injured). Conversely, as some players underperform, others overperform (Anderson vs. Colon). Luckily, the A's have a deep MLB roster, and don't really rely on any one player as a star that their success is tied to. While that type of roster construction can make it hard to make a true upgrade at the break, it also keeps this team from faltering due to the struggles of one player.

The A's will continue their series in Texas this evening, as Jarrod Parker will face Yu Darvish and the Nelson Cruz's. His annoyingly good play against the A's begins at 5:05 PM, with Lev Facher hosting your game thread.

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