Today’s series opener between the Dodgers and Tigers features two starting pitchers in very different places of their careers. Hyun-jin Ryu and Justin Verlander are slated to face each other, and here are each player’s 2014 seasons to date:
Verlander: 116-2/3 IP, 117 ERA-, 101 FIP-, 114 xFIP-
Ryu: 96-1/3 IP, 89 ERA-, 85 FIP-, 92 xFIP-
4:08 p.m. PT
On a rate basis, Ryu has been a significantly better pitcher this year. By FIP-based value, they’re tied (Verlander has made two more starts and gone a bit deeper into games on average). Even the Rest-of-Season Steamer projections, which is designed to be “sticky” and still takes Verlander’s peak into account, project Ryu to be only slightly worse than Verlander going forward on a rate basis, and it’s extremely close. It’s pretty amazing for a matchup which would be viewed as a complete mismatch at the beginning of last season to be so close now.
Verlander was the undisputed “best pitcher in baseball” before Clayton Kershaw took the mantle, but so far this season he has shown significant indicators of decline. His average fastball velocity during his last start was 92.59 MPH. In 2014, his average fastball velocity is 94.12 MPH. During Verlander’s “peak” years (2009-2012), the fastball averaged between 95 to 96.5 MPH. In that peak, Verlander struck out 25.5% of the batters he faced (9.22 K/9). This year, amidst concern about a league-wide increase in strikeouts, he’s striking out just 17.3% of the batters he faces (6.87 K/9).
Meanwhile, Hyun-jin Ryu is one of the more under-appreciated pitchers in baseball. His park-adjusted FIP is better than those of David Price and Zack Greinke. His numbers are almost identical to last season’s, except he’s walking fewer batters. That’s not to say that he “should be an all star” or something, but it seems like people away from Los Angeles don’t necessarily hear much about him. Even with Josh Beckett having a crazy ERA at the moment, Ryu would likely be the go-to choice for the third starter in a playoff series if everybody remains healthy. On a team this deep, that’s a pretty strong compliment.
Speaking of Josh Beckett, he was placed on the 15 day disabled list with a left hip impingement this afternoon. Since the all-star break is next week, it is possible that Beckett will miss only one start. It’s pretty amazing that Beckett has been dealing with a series of injuries this season, none of which have been related to the major surgery he had last season. Clayton Kershaw had a similar injury at the end of the 2012 season, which caused him to miss one start.
The Dodgers have not announced which starter will take Beckett’s place on Saturday (Red Patterson seems like the most likely candidate if the Dodgers opt to go the spot-start route). In the meantime, the Dodgers have recalled Pedro Baez to add manpower to the bullpen.
In news which is way more fun, Yasiel Puig is going to be in the home run derby. As a result, I guess I’ll actually have to watch the home run derby. I don’t put a ton of stock into “home run derby screws up your swing,” since the home run derby frequently selects players who have not regressed to any sort of HR/FB mean yet. Either way, next Monday will be very fun to watch.
|Tues 7/15||Wed 7/16||Thurs 7/17||Fri 7/18||Sat 7/19||Sun 7/20||Mon 7/21|