We’re going to start a new series (name pending), after each series, detailing the start-to-start change in some key metrics for the Mets’ rotation arms. The premise of this series is simply to monitor some of the stats that are often “luck” indicators. I use quotes around luck, because too often we (or at least me) refer to any statistical anomaly as unsustainable or luck. The trick is to find changes that are sustainable…like Mike Pelfrey’s k/9…we hope.
Friday’s starter, Hisanori Takahashi, pitched a gem in his first MLB start. Pitching out of the pen he had compiled a k/9 over 11, allowing very few home runs and stranding runners just under 80% of the time. After his start on Friday, his k/9 dipped and his BABIP began it’s descent from .342. His 2.56 FIP suggests that his 2.53 ERA, though extremely low, is not entirely a fluke. His 3.0 hr/fb is sure to regress towards the league average, and his expected FIP, or xFIP, which supplements FIP with a league average hr/fb%, rests at 3.56 for the season. Takahashi could prove to be a very capable starter, but it is unquestionably too early to make any predictions based off of any of these metrics.
Mike Pelfrey continued his dominant performances thanks to a splitter that keeps generating whiffs. His k/9 is still above 6 and remains to be one stat I am very interested in this season as a Met fan. It’s a full point higher than his career average while all other metrics seem right in line, aside from the increased strand rate. His LOB% should still be higher than normal thanks to that higher k rate and theconsistent 50% gb rate. Hopefully a healthy Reyes will keep more balls in the infield, helping Pelfrey strand more runners off of ground balls. Pelfrey’s xFIP of 4.01, though 40 points higher than his FIP, is outstanding for him, and helps solidify the fact that he hasn’t been overtly lucky, and since he’s never given up many homeruns to begin with, his xFIP is always going to be a bit misleading.
Johan Santana proved he can still be an ace and pitch well, despite a declining strikeout rate. His walks are right in line with his career average, as are most other key metrics aside from his FIPs. His FIP and xFIP are noticeably higher than his career averages thanks to that 6.96 k/9 and a somewhat low-for-Santana 7.1 hr/fb%. Hopefully Johan can get a few more home starts to offset the expected long ball regression and declining strikeout rate, but either way he is pitching fantastic and continues to be the ace of this staff.
We’ll monitor the changes in these rates as the season goes on. Many of us check these stats regularly, so we wanted to present them in an easily accessible format. Seeing the changes first hand from start to start will help provide a glimpse of how our pitchers are trending and just how “lucky” they may have been in recent starts.