It is pretty clear that the Nationals need a fourth starter. The issue is who! Trevor Bauer isn’t getting signed by general manager Mike Rizzo. And none of the rest are obvious choices. The priorities posted yesterday clearly shows the need for a 4th starter upgrade.
Don: When the Yankees signed Corey Kluber and the speculation started that they may not want to bring back Masahiro Tanaka who is a free agent. It is looking likely that Tanaka will not be going back to the Yankees I looked at his stats on Baseball Reference it looked like he was an innings eater. That got me to thinking that maybe getting a guy who goes deep into games would be a good idea.
I can query the 2018-2020 data and filtered the pitcher data to include only those that were in the list of MLBTR’s 2020-2021 Free Agent Tracker and that also had at least one game where they went thru the inning twice and look at the midpoint of how far into games they went. For example, if a pitcher started 50 games and I ordered them based on how deep they went, where does the 25th game fall (e.g., 5.2 innings).
Steve: Good idea. I’d think Rizzo wants a guy who can actually make it thru the 6th inning and probably will look to someone who Jim Hickey is comfortable with. There are quite a few of those on the free agent market like Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Jose Quintana, and Jon Lester. Of course of those 4 names, only Lester would qualify as an innings-eater.
Don: Another reason these Point-CounterPoints are a good idea. Your comment got me thinking of a clearer and more understandable way to summarize the data – what percent of their starts did they successfully complete thru 5 , 6, 7, 8 or 9 innings.
Of the 41 FAs listed on the MLBTR page, 39 of them had at least one game where they went thru the lineup three times. I had hoped that the filter of going thru the lineup three times at least once would cut down the list. It only excluded two pitchers: Jimmy Nelson and Matt Shoemaker; I don’t think either of them are reasonable options.
So here are the results, sorted in descending order by the percent of the time they made it thru 6 innings.
Don: Not a surprise that Bauer is listed first. But there are a number of pitchers in the top 10 who are not among MLBTR’s 2020-21 Top 50 MLB Free Agents With Predictions. The implication of that is that they should not cost a lot and a number of them might have to take minor leagues deals.
Steve: Mike Leake. Really. The issue there is that spat between him and Strasburg that goes back to their youth. The other issue could be cost given that he is a 4.00 ERA guy.
Don: Yes, really. I assume Rizzo would want to check with Stras before he would pursue signing Leake. In the meantime, here is another way to look at how deep a pitcher goes: how many times did they go thru the order three times.
Don: Leake is number 2 here (in terms of the percent of his games). If I am Rizzo I think I get on the phone with Stephen!
Andrew: There are many stars of years past. As someone wrote on TalkNats it is about picking the right guy and the right time. Anibal Sanchez was the right guy for 2019 but not for 2020 and you would take that every time when it produces a World Series win.
Nats fans certainly remember the rise and fall of both Dan Haren and Doug Fister. Who at the top of that list can get you innings and best ERA for 2021?
Steve: This is why Mike Rizzo gets paid the big bucks as he will have to make the right move here on adding a starter. Bad news on Jake Odorizzi looking at that chart. Eesh.
Andrew: Leake made $15 million last year and they declined his contract and paid him $5 million to walk away. He is a career 4.05 ERA but he has also pitched in hitter’s ballparks for much of his prime years. I have to think they won’t spend more than they just paid Anibal Sanchez to be a #4 pitcher. Anibal average $7.5 million per season.
My money is on Trevor Williams on a roll of the dice because I don’t think he will cost much, and he needs a good pitching coach to reprogram him. If he doesn’t work, you DFA him. Also, get Jordan Zimmermann on a minor league deal.
Don: Leake is not listed in MLBTR’s 2020-21 Top 50 MLB Free Agents With Predictions. Chris Archer is listed at #50 for $4M for one year. Presumably they are predicting even less for Leake.
Andrew: That would be a move to make if Leake was that cheap. But I get that article link on him and Strasburg would be a no-go. Certainly leaning towards someone who Hickey is comfortable with.
Steve: Well, given the stats I put up from FanGraphs, they think the Nats are the top run producer in the NL East but the 4th worst rotation (only ahead of the Phillies). Granted they give little respect to Strasburg as he better be leading this team in pitching and not a 4.08 ERA where FanGraphs has him. Here is the graphic I produced:
Andrew: You have to hope the Nats aren’t paying Strasburg $35 million to look like a #3 or #4 pitcher.
Don: Yes, it will be interesting to see what the TalkNats community thinks.