Pitcher wins are the greatest hits albums of baseball statistics. They exist, they're tangible, and they give some suggestion that the party of note was half-decent for a time, but beyond that they do little else to tell any of the story behind the label. If ever there were two articles published side by side that emphasize that notion, it was at FanGraphs today, as Eno Sarris spoke with Dan Straily about the changes he has made in both his delivery and pitch selection while Corinne Landrey dug deeper into the successes seen by Anthony DeSclafani in this, his breakout season.
What Sarris discovered when speaking with Straily was both enlightening and refreshing, since Sarris concluded justly that Straily is "a pitching nerd, just like many of us." Said conclusion was reached after Straily revealed how much research he's had to do into his own trends and statistics, how intricately he broke down scenarios after losing much of the velocity that blindly carried him into the big leagues in his early 20's. When his fastball - which was never great before, for that matter - suddenly was only a low 80's offering, he realized he'd have to find other ways to beat hitters, and that led to changing grips, arm angles, and pitching mixes over and over again until finally finding an arsenal that would work. It meant looking at matchups and tendencies and finding ways to be the new inefficiency, and throwing one pitch a certain way almost solely to set up more effective deception on another with a near identical delivery.
Dan Straily used pitching science, advanced metrics, probability and odds, and piles of data to become a better pitcher, knowing well that the underlying numbers that weren't on the backs of baseball cards growing up are ultimately a more telling sign of success.
Landrey took a more third party dive into Disco's statistics from this year in an attempt to see if 2016 truly was the breakout many expected following a solid finish to his 2015 rookie season. His ERA, ya see, has dropped from 4.05 to 2.93, and his record has gone from an uninspiring 9-13 a year ago to a stellar 8-3 since his return from the oblique injury that cost him the first two months of the season. But, as Landrey notes, it's been a combination of improvement in some areas, continued failure in others, and the fickle fate of baseball's luck gods that have driven most of that improvement, not necessarily sole improvements from Disco across the board. It's why his FIP and xFIP still sit in line with what he did last year, since his BABIP has seen a solid drop and his percentage of runners stranded has spiked.
DeSclafani's pitching well, of course, and he's done wonders against righties so far this season. But if he's truly going to be expected to repeat 2016 going forward - and not 2015 going forward - improved performance (or an altered strategy) against lefties will be of utmost importance, as will finding a way to induce more grounders once again.
Slapping a cover on paper makes a book whether you're Sonia Allison, Kurt Vonnegut, or the inimitably great John W. Trimmer. It's the same methodology that has Chris Davis - yes, that Chris Davis - with a better career pitching win percentage than Sandy Koufax. Kill the win, or at least pay attention to the stuff that actually tells you an accurate tale.
In other news, the Reds called up relievers Abel De Los Santos and Matt Magill yesterday to bolster the already bolstered and re-bolstered bullpen. De Los Santos was claimed by the Reds earlier this season from the Washington Nationals and limited runs effectively in his time with AA Pensacola. Magill, on the other hand, was the return from the Dodgers in the Chris Heisey trade, and he had Tommy John surgery on the very same day as Homer Bailey last year. Magill cracked the 40-man roster when Alfredo Simon was tranferred to the 60-day DL yesterday, and both he and De Los Santos will get to show what they've got for 20 games before the Reds will have some serious 40-man roster decisions to make before the Rule 5 Draft.
The Reds have a better home record this year than do the St. Louis Cardinals. That's fun.
Over at The Enquirer, C. Trent Rosecrans checked in on where the Reds might be drafting in 2017, as the teams with rough records are racing to the
bottom end of the season. The Reds currently sit with the 5th pick, but with 6 games left against the juggernaut Chicago Cubs and a final week 4 game set against a Cardinals club fighting to make the postseason, it's easy to see the Reds on and end-of-the-year slide that could net them a higher selection. We all know Don's hoping for it, at least.
Finally, this graph is pretty damn interesting, I suppose. At least, it should be if you've got Billy Hamilton, Zack Cozart, and Brandon Phillips up the middle for the team you follow.