2020 Starting Pitching Discussion

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Derek

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I don't get where the 99.9 percentile for BABIP comes in. Civale ranked 45th and Plesac 55th in BABIP last year among pitchers with over 40 innings pitched (398 total). That puts Civale in the 88th percentile and Plesac in the 86th. Neither was even in the top 10% much less the top 1%.

The top two Indians pitchers in that category were Tyler Clippard (4th at .204) and Nick Goody (35th at .245). The Indians let both of them go, possibly because they figured they won’t be able to repeat those BABIP numbers. Clippard’s ERA was 2.90 against an xFIP of 4.94, so it appears he was very lucky. Goody had similar numbers.

Wittgren (.253) was between Civale (.250) and Plesac (.255). So Civale and Plesac ranked 3rd and 5th on the Indians in BABIP. They weren't even the best on their team.

I suspect it was a combination of some good luck and the Indians defense being very good. Neither of them pitched the first half of the season when we had Martin, Bauers, and CarGo roaming the outfield at various times. By the second half they were gone or benched and we had Mercado, Naquin, Luplow and Allen covering a lot more turf than was covered in the first half. Oops, I almost forgot Puig.

It would be interesting to compare the BABIP of Beiber in the first and second half to test the theory.

That’s why I’m so excited about the Indians outfield from a defensive standpoint. With some combination of Mercado, Zimmer, Naquin, Luplow, and DeShields or Allen out there even minor league pitchers like Civale and Plesac look good. Not to mention the infield and our elite defensive catcher. Bieber could have an even better season. His BABIP was .296 but he gave up too many dingers (16.1% HR/FB).

Maybe you were referring to HR/FB ratio where Civale was 9th out of 398, putting him just outside the top 2%. His secret last year was avoiding barreled balls (top 1% according to Lada) and having an excellent defense to gobble up all those soft and medium hit balls. Can he do it again this year? I have to admit the top 2% in HR/FB seems unlikely. The eight guys who finished ahead of him were all relievers, by the way.
I already made multiple extensive posts on the topic. If you're not going to bother to actually read them, why should I continue speaking in circles with you?

I did not misspeak.

If Civale and Plesac maintain their BABIP from last year over the next decade they will be in the 99.9th percentile. Nobody sniffed their numbers over the last 10 years.

Feel free to actually go back and read my posts, most of which were in response to you with links included.
 
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Derek

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We already knew the pitchers would be ahead of the hitters, but the ump's zone tonight was very pitcher-friendly for Duffy and Biebs.

Good to see Bieber make it through 6, I thought for sure he'd be done after 5. I think he threw almost 90 pitches in their intrasquad scrimmage last week, so I figured his limit would be around there.

Despite his stat line, I don't think he was nearly as sharp as he can be. I think the hit batsmen and the 4-0 walk are evidence of that. He ended up deep in quite a few counts without needing to be.

All in all, good first outing.
 
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I already made multiple extensive posts on the topic. If you're not going to bother to actually read them, why should I continue speaking in circles with you?

I did not misspeak.

If Civale and Plesac maintain their BABIP from last year over the next decade they will be in the 99.9th percentile. Nobody sniffed their numbers over the last 10 years.

Feel free to actually go back and read my posts, most of which were in response to you with links included.
You've made almost 13,000 posts. How many do you expect me to go back and read? Maybe just the "multiple extensive" ones? Sorry, I don't have time to skim through thousands of posts looking for the ones on this topic. I read what you're saying right now and if I have a response I post it.

Nobody is trying to predict what Civale or Plesac will be doing in 10 years when they're 35. The question is whether we can expect similar performances THIS year and next. Then we'll have more data to reassess.

Plesac had a lot of success against the worst hitting opponents and not so much against the best. He looks like a #5 to me, which is what he is at the moment. Hopefully he's young enough at 25 that he can sharpen his pitches and command enough to be a decent #4.

Civale is an anomaly as Fangraphs points out. His minor league strikeout totals don't predict much major league success, but he managed to limit the opposition to two earned runs or less in nine of ten starts, including three starts against the two best offenses in baseball. Sheer luck? Or was it the ability to throw five pitches for strikes, including a fastball in the 85th percentile in spin rate and a curve that drops 12% more than average?

The guy was better than 99% of the pitchers in baseball at preventing barreled balls and better than 98% in preventing fly balls from leaving the yard. No luck involved in either. But he still needs to make "substantial improvements in key areas" if he is going to be effective? OK, what are the improvements and what are the key areas? Where was he substandard last year? Just point me to one of those multiple extensive posts where you explain why Civale's 2019 stuff won't cut it in 2020.

If you said said that we don’t know if he can continue to pitch this well until he faces 1,100 more batters - fine. No argument there. It’s the statement that he needs to improve significantly in multiple areas that I have an issue with. I don’t see what he needs to improve. His ability to miss bats? It didn’t hurt him last year, did it?

Can a starting pitcher be successful over an extended period of time if he only averages 7.8 K’s per 9?
 

CATS44

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Can a MLB SP maintain a .250 BABIP over the long term?

No

Can a MLB SP be successful long term with a K rate below 8/9?

Yes

Both Civale and Plesac have had early success in extremely small sample sizes. It's way too early to pigeon hole them in any way. Obviously, they both are young and have been on a rising track. Whether they continue to rise, plateau, or fall off a cliff is yet to be seen.

But one thing to consider...

An organization that is among the elite at developing pitchers has shown a ton of confidence in them..and they know more than any of us. They have shown so much confidence in them that they felt able to trade away a two time CY winner plus Bauer, and to jump them over Plutko.

You dont have to throw a ball thru a wall to be successful. Command is the name of the game. If they can command multiple pitches in their arsenal and limit hard contact, they can be successful.
 

jup

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Was impressed with both Biebs (no apostrophe) CB's and CH's (couldn't resist :ok:) tonight. He has done some good work in the offseason
 
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Can a MLB SP maintain a .250 BABIP over the long term?

No

Can a MLB SP be successful long term with a K rate below 8/9?

Yes

Both Civale and Plesac have had early success in extremely small sample sizes. It's way too early to pigeon hole them in any way. Obviously, they both are young and have been on a rising track. Whether they continue to rise, plateau, or fall off a cliff is yet to be seen.

But one thing to consider...

An organization that is among the elite at developing pitchers has shown a ton of confidence in them..and they know more than any of us. They have shown so much confidence in them that they felt able to trade away a two time CY winner plus Bauer, and to jump them over Plutko.

You dont have to throw a ball thru a wall to be successful. Command is the name of the game. If they can command multiple pitches in their arsenal and limit hard contact, they can be successful.
Agree with most of this but I'll quibble about the organization showing a ton of confidence in them. They had no choice but to bring these guys up after losing Kluber, Carrasco, and Clevinger early. They traded Bauer because they wanted to maximize the return since they had no chance of resigning him in free agency.

I get that no starting pitcher in history has maintained a .250 BABIP over the long term. The median last year was .296, so Civale was about 16% better than that, putting him just outside the top 10%. My argument is that with a five pitch mix and excellent command he should continue to limit hard contact and with one of the best defenses in baseball behind him he could continue to be significantly above average in BABIP. Unless he is unable for some reason to execute his pitches to the same level he was last year, I don't see why his BABIP can't continue to be well above average, especially with some combination of Mercado, Zimmer, Naquin, and Luplow in the outfield, a Gold Glove shortstop, and solid defenders around the infield.
 

macbdog

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Civale is a more successful Lil Cowboy. Odds are he turns back into a pumpkin. Like Lindor, just gonna enjoy it while he lasts. Maybe he can get with Clase in addition to his work with Bauer and add some feet to that fastball.
 

CATS44

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Civale has much more upside than Tomlin.

First of all, he throws much harder than Josh, who never averaged 90 MPH on his fastball. Civale, once advertised as a soft tosser, actually throws as hard as Kluber, and not that much lower than Biebs.

He also has a wider assortment of pitches, including a slider that Tomlin never had.

Tomlin performed to the absolute top of his ability, which was as a fairly reliable BOR. Civale has the chance to be much better, and if he maxes out like Tomlin did, much, much better.

Our dream should be that Biebs, Civale, Plesac, and a few others, replicate what Tomlin and Kluber did in terms of maxing out talent levels.
 
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Civale has much more upside than Tomlin.

First of all, he throws much harder than Josh, who never averaged 90 MPH on his fastball. Civale, once advertised as a soft tosser, actually throws as hard as Kluber, and not that much lower than Biebs.

He also has a wider assortment of pitches, including a slider that Tomlin never had.

Tomlin performed to the absolute top of his ability, which was as a fairly reliable BOR. Civale has the chance to be much better, and if he maxes out like Tomlin did, much, much better.

Our dream should be that Biebs, Civale, Plesac, and a few others, replicate what Tomlin and Kluber did in terms of maxing out talent levels.
I was encouraged by Jup's comments on Civale, which I will repeat here.

"Civale did a very good job of using tunnels with his arsenal to be effective. The biggest single change he made (relative to the bulk of his minor league career) was he started to throw his FB at the top of the zone. Changed the dynamics of how his entire arsenal worked. That made him very effective, and could continue to have him be effective as there are dynamics when you do that, that are not easy for hitters to ever combat. So his strategy was his best asset last year. I am sure he will deploy a very similar one this year as it is a change he made coming to the big leagues..."

Jup went on to add a caveat...

"Now how effective that strategy will work (in his particular case) once hitters are aware of what he does, is still an open question because of his short stint at the big league level."

We should get another 12 starts worth of data this year, plus the playoffs, to see if those "dynamics...that are not easy for hitters to ever combat" will keep paying off for him.
 
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Is there a better potential story than Carlos anchoring our rotation this year and leading us to a Series win?
If Carlos pitches well enough to "anchor" a rotation" that includes Bieber and Clevinger then a World Series appearance becomes very realistic.

But the Twins averaged 9 runs a game in their opening series against the White Sox. That's a scary batting order. Nelson Cruz went 4-for-5 today so I'm not holding my breath on him having a big regression just because he turned 40. He went 7-for-13 with 10 RBI's in the series. The White Sox staff must be shell-shocked.
 

CATS44

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Ah, the age old question.

Would you rather have awesome offense or shutdown pitching in front of elite defense?
 

CATS44

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Is there a better potential story than Carlos anchoring our rotation this year and leading us to a Series win?
Cookie is another Tribesman who has been overlooked by some fans.

From the time he began a season as a fulltime starter (2014) thru 2018, only three AL pitchers put up more FWAR than he did....and this in spite of his pitching significantly less innings, due to getting hit by a batted ball.

Those three were Kluber, Sale, and Verlander.

That is elite company.

I find it hard to fathom, given what he has gone thru, but if he returns to anything near that level of production, look out.
 
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Ah, the age old question.

Would you rather have awesome offense or shutdown pitching in front of elite defense?
Shutdown pitching. See Cleveland versus Atlanta, 1995 World Series. Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Avery against Lofton, Baerga, Belle, Manny, Thome, Vizquel, Murray, and Sandy Alomar. Atlanta 4, Cleveland 2. In the four games the Braves won the Indians vaunted lineup scored 2, 3, 2, and 0 runs. Glavine shut them out 1-0 in the final game.

The cliche is that good pitching stops good hitting. That series made me a believer.
 

LL3

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If Carlos pitches well enough to "anchor" a rotation" that includes Bieber and Clevinger then a World Series appearance becomes very realistic.

But the Twins averaged 9 runs a game in their opening series against the White Sox. That's a scary batting order. Nelson Cruz went 4-for-5 today so I'm not holding my breath on him having a big regression just because he turned 40. He went 7-for-13 with 10 RBI's in the series. The White Sox staff must be shell-shocked.
Rooting for all of the above, but IF the Tribe is really great this season, WOW -- that expanded playoff system would really work against them. Not that they could not win, but just about anything can happen in short series...particularly a 3 game series.
 

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