Time for BP’s pitching projections. I’ve decided to focus on their projections for ERA, WHIP, Strikeouts and Innings Pitched. The state line will read ERA/WHIP/Strikeouts/Innings Pitched.
Ben Sheets 3.35/1.07/171 Ks/177 IP
If someone offered this stat line to Doug Melvin in a “Deal or No Deal” fashion (I’ve only watched the show once for 20 minutes, I swear) and guaranteed this state line for Sheets in ’07, he’d probably have to take it. The thing is, I see this as a conservative projection of what Sheets will do in a full season. In 2004, in one of the best years of any pitcher this decade, he threw 237 innings and struck out 264 batters with a 2.70 ERA and a .98 WHIP. Sheets is fully healthy for the first time since that season, so there is no reason not to realistically expect him to reach 200 innings.
I’m just throwing in this comment from BP, because I liked it that much. “You just cannot ignore how good he is when he takes the mound, though. He’d always had great control before, but last year’s equivalent walk rate of 0.8 per nine innings is approaching the reliability you get with a pitching machine. Next year–if healthy–he could easily be one of the best starters in the league.”
Chris Capuano 4.32/1.31/151 Ks/194 IP
They project Capuano to take a small step back from his All-Star season in ’06, and I can’t really disagree with it. He slowed down a bit in the second half, and his stuff isn’t anything great. Capuano tends to get in trouble when he nibbles around the strike zone, but when he attacks hitters he is generally very effective. He should still serve as a durable innings eater and a number two/three quality starter, which is more than fine and plenty valuable.
Dave Bush 4.01/1.25/138 Ks/191 IP
Like so many these days, Baseball Prospectus has Bush primed for a bit of a breakout season. They project him to have better seasons than both Capuano and Suppan, something which I probably expect myself. He’s a poor man’s Ben Sheets with his impressive strikeout/walk ratio. His problem last year was consistency, as one game he was taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and then next game he was allowing five runs in four innings. I’m looking for the good Dave Bush to show up more frequently this season.
Jeff Suppan 4.95/1.47/99 Ks/172 IP
Those numbers are not too pretty if you’re a Brewers fan. Suppan has been incredibly durable and consistent, but PECOTA thinks that will change this season. They point to Suppan’s splits in ’06 (5.36 road ERA vs. 3.18 home ERA) and a Brewers defense that will be less dependable than the Card’s infield last year as reasons why Suppan will regress.
I was aware of these stats when the Brewers signed Suppan, but I was still mostly behind their gamble of signing him. They paid a lot for him, but not an exorbitant amount. I personally would be surprised if his ERA jumps almost a full run, which is what BP projects.
Claudio Vargas 4.69/1.36/122/160
These numbers would be appealing for a fifth starter, so if Vargas can manage that the Brewers should be pretty happy. BP thinks that the switch from Chase to Miller Park will help Vargas because of his tendency to work high in the zone and give up deep fly balls.
Francisco Cordero 3.30/1.29/65/59
Very solid projections here for Cordero, as they still expect him to average greater than a strikeout per inning. Every Brewer fan knows that Cordero was the only reason the Brewers didn’t spiral into fifth or sixth in the NL Central, as his arrival kept the monstrocity that was Derrick Turnbow post-All-Star break away from the ninth inning. He’ll resume the closer’s role once again.
Derrick Turnbow 4.44/1.47/51 Ks/52 IP
Well I’d say here’s a player who’s as hard to project as any. After a great ’05 and a pretty good first half of ’06, Turnbow completely fell apart. And when I say completely fell apart, I mean he turned into Brandon Claussen against the Brewers nearly every time he pitched. The early signs from spring are that Turnbow looks good again, so start holding your breath now. If he can bounce back somewhat, the Brewers could have a strong back end to hold leads.
Jose Capellan 4.40/1.40/50 Ks/61 IP
Cappellan was rarely great last year, but he was rarely terrible too. His biggest strength is that he can pitch multiple innings in relief. He’s pretty much a lock to make the team and be a pivotal part of the bullpen again.
PECOTA also projects minor leaguers, and compiles a list of “comparables” for each player. Here are some comparables for some top prospects.
Yovani Gallardo: Kyle Davies, Chad Billingsley, Jake Peavy, Clint Nageotte
Will Inman: Jake Peavy, Troy Patton, Sean Gallagher, John Stephens
Zach Jackson: Derrin Ebert, Randy Lerch, Jimmy Osting, Mike Gosling
Carlos Villanueva: Kiko Calero, Mark Brownson, John Hudgins, Justin Duchscherer
Dennis Sarfate: Chris Clemons, Joaquin Benoit, Jon Leicester, Ray Ricken
Those are some good names for Villanueva. It’s pretty sweet when your two top pitching prospects are both comparable to Jake Peavy. Billingsley is good, and Sean Gallagher is a highly-regarded prospect, so he’s good company for Inman. Calero and Duchscherer have been decent big league pitchers, so that’s not bad for Villanueva. Jon Leicester is nice company for Sarfate as well.