Bill James Isn’t Crazy About Pittsburgh Pirates Starting Pitching


Around this time each year,

we are overcome by the total lack of news on the Pittsburgh Pirates.  We typically reach out for a way to get excited about the upcoming season.  (And we normally get really depressed)

So this year we started looking for that depression early.  Bill James sells a handbook that offers some projections on the upcoming season.  He offers an update to it in March.  So we wanted to see what he thought about the Pirates starting rotation.

Here is the link to the book, it’s priced right too– under ten bucks, you should check it out.

So here is a quick look at what  the crystal ball looks like on the computer screen of Bill James as it relates to six pitchers expected to make most of the starts for the Buccos

Kevin Correia

7 wins -10 losses with 149 innings pitched in which he will allow 158 hits over 24 starts.  He predicts an uptick in strikeouts per nine innings with 6.1 penciled in for the Pirates All-Star pitcher from 2011.  Walks per nine innings also bump to 2.84 over nine.  The final ERA predicted is 4.29 and a similar FIP of 4.32.

We can’t say that excites us.

Charlie Morton

8 wins- 12 losses with 176 innings pitched in which he will allow 190 hits over 29 starts.  He predicts an uptick in strikeouts per nine with 6.24 penciled in which would be better than Charlies 5.77 he put up in 2011.  Morton’s walks per nine are at 3.73 and his final ERA is predicted at 4.50 with a FIP of 4.01.

We can’t say that excites us, but it’s interesting to see 29 starts for Morton.  Perhaps the computer isn’t familar with a labrum tear in the hip of humans?  Or maybe it is.

Jeff Karstens

7 wins- 8 losses with 135 innings pitched over 23 starts.  James predicts Karstens strikeouts per nine to also increase to 5.6 over his 5.3 in 2011.  The walks per nine are at 2 which is a slight increase over the 1.83 the Zombie put up in 2011.  His final ERA is predicted at 4.13 and his FIP comes in at 4.38.

Why the drop in innings?  Does the computer forsee arm troubles for the Zombie?  Screw the computer.

Erik Bedard

8 wins- 5 losses with 122  innings pitched over 23 starts.  His strikeouts per nine (8.78) and walks per nine (3.3) are right around his career average.  James predicts that Bedard will finish with a 3.54 ERA and a 3.61 FIP

That doesn’t really excite us, but it would be the second most innings he has pitched since his fifth place Cy Young finish in 2007.  We think the Bucs can expect more from Bedard which is what we are looking forward to as well.  The sound of Bob Walk screaming, “Bedard got him looking!!!” just can’t come fast enough.

Every year a rebound is expected from Bedard, perhaps this will be the year.  If not, 23 starts would be satisfying I guess.  Perhaps if the offense bounces back as expected Bedard could convert a few more of those starts to wins.

James McDonald

9 wins- 10 losses with 170 innings pitched while giving up 160 hits over 29 starts.  James predicts JMac to have 15 more strikeouts which bumps his strikeouts per nine to 8.31.  The sad part is James sees the walk total staying high at 3.97 per nine.

His final ERA comes in at 4.02 and his FIP is forecasted at 4.07

Despite McDonald having some of the best numbers, it still doesn’t excite us.  We can see McDonald coming in healthy and pitching well in 2012.   So after looking at the forecasts, we tally 39 wins and 45 losses coming from the expected starting rotation in 2011.  Not exactly thrilling, is it?  We look forward to some recalculations in March when the update goes on sale.

Some other pitchers James sees making starts for the Bucs are below:

Brad Lincoln is forecasted by James to make 14 starts (22 games) and pitch 86 innings with a 4-5 record.   His ERA is expected to be 4.08 with a better FIP at 3.77.

Jeff Locke is forecasted to make eight starts with a 2-2 record over 33 innings pitched.  Locke’s ERA is forecasted at 4.36 with a FIP of 3.93.  His strikeouts take a big jump to 7.64/9 innings.

So now we are sitting at 46 wins and 51 losses.  Exciting?  No, but it’s acceptable we guess, much better than the helplessness we have read about in years past.  Hell,  just imagine if  Clint Hurdle and the Pirates coaches can get a few of their talented young players to actually hit the baseball in 2012?

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