On Those Underwhelming Rotation Additions

So no one’s happy with the pitching acquisitions the Dodgers made at the deadline, understandably:

Now obviously a ton of that has been due to the struggles of Jim Johnson (who quietly threw a scoreless inning last night), but the rotation was supposed to get a sudden boost, and that hasn’t happened. Already, I’m getting texts and tweets about wanting to get Mike Bolsinger back, or that the team made the wrong acquisitions. Let’s look at the prominent starters moved at the deadline:

Name Team GS IP K% BB% K-BB% HR/9 BABIP GB% ERA FIP xFIP
David Price Blue Jays 2 15 32% 9% 23% 0.60 .156 44% 0.60 2.57 3.12
Johnny Cueto Royals 2 16 17% 3% 14% 0.00 .191 41% 1.13 2.23 3.65
Scott Kazmir Astros 2 11.1 15% 8% 8% 2.38 .270 49% 2.38 6.19 4.00
Mike Leake Giants 1 6.1 19% 7% 11% 1.42 .368 50% 2.84 4.53 3.82
Dan Haren Cubs 2 10.1 20% 7% 13% 2.61 .290 38% 5.23 6.01 4.02
Mike Fiers Astros 1 11.2 20% 8% 12% 1.54 .303 49% 5.40 4.65 4.00
Alex Wood Dodgers 2 11.1 25% 9% 15% 0.79 .364 53% 5.56 3.55 2.90
Cole Hamels Rangers 2 13.2 24% 6% 18% 3.29 .324 49% 5.93 6.62 3.52
Mat Latos Dodgers 3 14.2 13% 5% 8% 1.23 .314 56% 6.75 4.40 3.88

The first thing that should jump out at you is that we’re talking about a dozen or so innings in most cases, and that’s a laughably low number to do any sort of real analysis on. You just can’t. I mean, look at Kazmir. He’s struck out fewer than Wood, walked more than Wood, allowed far more homers than Wood… and his ERA is more than three runs per nine lower. The gap between his ERA and FIP is hilarious. In samples this small, “good” and “effective” are hardly the same thing.

Leake is on the disabled list with a bad hamstring; Hamels missed a start with a sore groin and hasn’t been that great himself. Price has undeniably been a superstar, though that .156 BABIP isn’t going to persist. Latos’ low strikeout percentage is concerning, though he at least whiffed 7 in 4.2 innings last night. You’ll note that the two Dodgers have the highest grounder rate, which is not by accident.

I’m not really sure what my point is here, I guess. Maybe it’s “we can’t possibly draw conclusions based on two or three starts,” which is true. Maybe it’s “there’s no denying that Price would look great, but what if it had been Hamels?” Maybe it’s “none of this would seem troublesome if the offense or bullpen were excelling,” or “what, you’d prefer Zach Lee or Brandon Beachy making regular starts?”

But, you know, it is mid-August. It’s hard to take the long view when the Giants are only 2.5 games back, and when the surges of the Mets, Pirates, and Cubs mean that the wild card probably isn’t there as a viable backup plan if the division isn’t won. I get that there’s a time where intelligent on-paper moves take a back seat to actually winning games, today.

I get the frustration, anyway. Hasn’t worked out so far. Needs to work out soon. Doesn’t mean other, more expensive alternatives were guaranteed successes, though.

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.