A Closer Look At This Year’s NL Central Starting Pitchers
As of January 22nd, 2006, according to mlb.com, these are the cadidates for starting pitchers in the NL Central. The Depth column is where mlb.com considers where each pitcher falls in the rotation. When playing fantasy baseball, I try to put every starting pitcher into 3 different groups. I deem the top third as quality starters, the middle third as average starters and the bottom third as shaky starters. For this comparison, I’m only using last year’s statistics as the basis for grouping these pitchers. To be honest, a better comparison would have been to take an average of each pitcher’s last 3 Major League seasons. In future article(s), I want to examine another way of trying to project how successfull each pitcher may be based on thier age and how many years of Major League Experience.
I use the scoring system set by the mlb.com fantasy games which is as follows for pitchers:
- 30 points for each win and/or save.
- 5 points for each third of an inning pitched.
- 3 points for each strikeout.
- -3 points for each walk.
- -5 points for each hit allowed.
- -10 points for each earned run allowed.
- -15 points for each loss.
The TOT column are the total fantasy points accumulated for the season and the last column PPG is the fantasy points per game average for the season. This is the statistic I use to group the pitchers.
Now, I know, a few adjustments are probably in order.
First off, Zach Duke and Paul Maholm were late callups last season for the Pirates and basically mowed down the September schedule. I really can’t say for sure that Duke and Maholm will remain quality starters heading into the 2006 season.
Secondly, we see a few pitchers who, only last year, were shaky starters. Paul Wilson spent a good deal of the season on the disabled list. When he was finally activated, he did not perform well. I doubt that he will be shaky this year unless he continues to spend time on the DL. Oliver Perez had a great 2004 season but had a very bad start to 2005 and wound up on the DL for the majority of the season. Both Wilson and Perez would be considered as average starters, Perez could even be considered a quality starter if he finds that electric stuff he had in 2004. Fantasy players should keep an eye on Perez because he will fall into the later rounds of your draft and could become a steal.
Glendon Rusch (I’ll admit, I hate him), a.k.a. "The Launching Pad" numbers are a bit skewed as he went from short relief to long relief, to even a spot-starter. Honestly, he probably rates at the very edge of what I would consider to be an average starter. You notice that Kerry Wood is not in any of these tables. The news out of Chicago is that they are going to use Wood out of the bullpen.
I want to say Eric Milton is a better pitcher than what he did for the Reds last year. But to pitch so bad and to have the Reds continue to send him out there for 34 starts, his numbers are downright scary. An ERA of 6.47, he gave up 237 hits and 134 earned runs. Yikes! As you can see, the only new starter in Cincinnati is Dave Williams who came over in the Sean Casey deal from Pittsburgh. Clearly, Cincinnati will again have the worst starting pitching in the NL Central.
Good luck to St. Louis with Sidney Ponson. His numbers last year is just about what you’ll get from him. One of the most over-hyped starting pitchers the majors have seen the last 3 seasons.
Some teams have six pitchers listed. That is because they are not certain what 5 they will use heading into the season. Spring Training will be used to answer rotation questions. I believe in most cases, any pitcher listed 1 through 3 is pretty safe to not losing their job. Number 4 starters are on close watch but most of them will remain in the rotation. Number 5 and 6’s are clearly on the bubble and need good springs in order to get into their team’s rotation.
Finally, I averaged the points per game for each staff of the players listed and the results are as follows:
- Milwaukee Brewers 48.62 PPG.
- St. Louis Cardinals 47.68 PPG.
- Chicago Cubs 46.93 PPG.
- Houston Astros 45.54 PPG.
- Pittsburgh Pirates 41.00 PPG.
- Cincinnati Reds 27.68 PPG.
What does this study tell us? Nothing much on January 22nd but it’s interesting to look at the numbers and draw a few conclusions. First off, 5 of the 6 Brewers who made up that number above all pitched for the Brewers last season. Chicago’s decision to put Wood in the bullpen hurts their starting rotation. Last year, they were considered to be the best staff of the division. Houston probably should have tried to keep Roger Clemens. Had they signed him for 2006, the Astros would clearly be the best staff in the division. Unless the young arms in Pittsburgh continue the hot pace they ended last season with, and if Perez should find his form of 2004, I still do not think they will be as good as the four teams above them. I believe that the top 4 staffs are very close. I also believe that its important to put your hitting shoes on when Cincinnati comes up on your schedule.
All of this work means nothing without comments from my viewing audience so as always, your comments are greatly appreciated…