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Digging Deep Series: Pitchers to avoid at the Draft Table

Digging DeepOf all of the ERA indicators (FIP, xFIP, SIERA), I’ve found through experience that SIERA (“Skill-Interactive ERA”) has been the most predictive.

One simple way to find pitchers to avoid before your draft then is to subtract a pitcher’s 2018 ERA from their 2018 SIERA and find the largest negative discrepancies between what their results actually were vs what they “should have” done.

To help refine the list, I looked for pitchers in 2018 who met the following criteria:

  • Threw more than 70 IP (to remove the pitchers who barely pitched)
  • K-BB% rates below “average” (12.1%)
  • Swinging Strike % below “average” (9.7%)
  • Had batters make Hard hit% above average (36.2%)
  • ERA better than 4.30 (because if their ERA was worse, these pitchers are probably already being avoided); and a
  • SIERA that is higher than their ERA.

Below is the list of pitchers who met the above criteria, with their statistics from last year and their current ADP (via NFBC). Note that Sean Manaea made this list but he was removed due to the fact he won’t pitch in 2019. Edwin Jackson also made this list but is still a Free Agent at time of writing so he is not being drafted highly anyway.

There are a few interesting names in here.

avoid pic

As sad as it is to hear it, Madison Bumgarner’s storied career appears to be on a downward slope. Those having hope that his 3.26 ERA last year was evidence that he was on his way back to vintage MadBum will likely be disappointed this year. His SIERA was 1.16 runs worse than his ERA and his Hard hit% and Swinging Strike rate were also below average. With an ADP of 75, you are essentially drafting the same profile as Ian Kennedy (ADP of 651).

Jhoulys Chacin was a surprise in 2018, pitching to a 3.56 ERA for the playoff-bound Milwaukee Brewers. There was a reason it was a surprise though: his peripherals show a pitcher who should have had an ERA closer to 4.57, which is around what most projection systems are actually expecting for him in 2019. Those owners defying the projections and taking him at pick 254 because of his 2018 campaign, will likely be disappointed.

The most interesting name may be Wade Miley. No one in their right minds is expecting a performance in 2019 nearing the 1.21 WHIP and 2.57 ERA numbers he put up last year. That is, no one …except the Houston Astros?? The analytics masters see something with Miley. I’m not interested in taking him – but I’m definitely intrigued. Tyler Chatwood was supposedly a sleeper pick for similar reasons when the Cubs signed him and we all know how that turned out. Did the Astros find another Charlie Morton?

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