Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Kyle K 

Yesterday I noted that the Phillies could assemble an All-Star roster consisting of the players currently on the Disabled List who wear a Phillies uniform: Chase Utley, Jon Lieber, Freddy Garcia, Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn, etc. Other Phillies hurlers have spent time on the DL too: Brett Myers comes to mind. The injury bug has particularly bit the starting rotation, which started the season with a bit of a surplus. The team’s plans to utilize Jon Lieber as trade bait / long-reliever hit a snag when Myers shifted to the bullpen, then Lieber and Freddy Garcia, the Phillies new and much ballyhooed starter from the White Sox, went down.

Looking for depth, the Phillies sought Garcia’s replacement in Double-A ball, bringing Kyle Kenderick up from Reading. (Later the Phillies went to Ottawa and plucked J.D. Durbin from the Triple-A Lynx.) Kenderick, much to everyone’s surprise, has pitched very well. Sort of. A cursory look at Kendrick’s numbers suggest that he’s doing quite well: 5-2, 3.88 ERA in ten starts.

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings: (K * 9) / IP

I was looking at the quality starts turned in by Phillies starters and saw something interesting. Check out the percentage of starts that are quality starts (i.e., starts where the pitcher goes six innings or more and gives up three runs or less):

QS Pct:
Kendrick: 70.0%
Hamels: 60.8%
Moyer: 59.1%
Lieber: 41.6%
Garcia: 36.3%
Eaton: 34.8%

Seven of Kendrick’s ten starts have been quality starts. However, Kendrick hasn’t been pitching as well as advertised. Once you take a deeper look inside of his stats, the truth becomes apparent.

As many of the readers of this blog know, we look for how well pitchers do things like get strikeouts, how many walks they surrender and how many home runs they allow to judge how they are pitching because these are things they can control, as opposed to balls they allow put into play, because good / bad defenses influence those numbers. (Caveat: there is data to indicate that pitchers like the Phillies Jamie Moyer do slightly influence the outcome of balls put into play.)

The all-encompassing number for a pitchers sabremetric number has been DIPS, or Defense Independent Pitching Statistic, which is what a pitcher would do with an average defense behind him. Let’s start by looking at ERA:

Hamels: 3.57
Kendrick: 3.88
Lieber: 4.52
Moyer: 4.82
Eaton: 6.09

Now convert that to DIPS:

Lieber: 3.53
Hamels: 3.86
Moyer: 4.65
Kendrick: 4.76
Eaton: 5.23

Yeah, Jon Lieber’s ERA falls by a run and Kendrick’s jumps. That is because, unlike Lieber, a pitcher who relied on control and his heavy slider to keep the ball in the park and hitters from getting ball four, Kendrick’s pitches are, at this stage of his career, pretty ordinary. He’s not getting many strikeouts, and his home runs and walks allowed are pretty ordinary:

Hamels: 8.67
Lieber: 6.23
Moyer: 5.62
Eaton: 5.61
Kendrick: 3.59

The problem here, with such a low strikeout rate, is that Kendrick relies too much on his fielders to get the job done. Pitchers with high strikeout rates like Hamels tend to have success because they don’t rely on variables like their fielders. Ironically, Kendrick’s home run and walks allowed rates are pretty decent, but this low strikeout rate is going to come back to bite him one day, and it will be sooner than expected.

Tomorrow: I have no idea.

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