Jerry Crasnick, of ESPN and Baseball America, speculated the Pittsburgh Pirates could be in play for Angels left-handed starter Hector Santiago.
The Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation has a 4.76 ERA which ranks number 22 in all of Major League Baseball. Their advanced metrics do not show much better results, as their 4.61 FIP ranks 23rd, and their 4.40 xFIP is 19th. Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole have both done their parts, when healthy. Francisco Liriano has a 4.96 ERA, but has looked better this month posting an ERA of 3.57 and a FIP of 3.01 in four July starts. Jeff Locke currently has the worst ERA among qualified starters and the tenth worst FIP. He’s a massive drop off from the other three. Jon Niese has been regulated to the bullpen, Tyler Glasnow has been placed on the disabled list, and Chad Kuhl left a game with right triceps discomfort. The need for a starter is obvious.
There was speculation in the offseason the Pirates could have interest in Hector Santiago as part of a Neil Walker trade, so hearing his name being thrown around the Pirates should not come as to big of a surprise. However, the left-handed starter is not who he has been. Despite poor metrics from 2013-2015, Santiago still put up a 3.62 ERA in 97 games and 79 starts. This season though, Santiago has performed much worse.
The 28-year-old has started in 20 games this season, and has pitched 110.1 innings. His 4.32 ERA does not scream improvement to the rotation, and his advanced metrics are even worse. Santiago currently possesses a 4.91 FIP, meaning he has gotten some luck so far this season, and his FIP ranks 12th worst, directly following Jeff Locke and Francisco Liriano. Going forward, Santiago’s 5.04 xFIP ranks fourth worse, and is worse than Locke’s.
A closer look at Santiago shows that his home run rate of 3.9 percent is a career worse, slightly worse than last years 3.7 percent. A trend that is not very good for him. His 10.1 percent walk rate is his worst since 2013. This is including a career high groundball rate of 38.7 percent.
Hector Santiago has performed the worst this year compared to any year of his career. He is arbitration eligible for the final time next season. With his down year, combined with the huge out performances of his metrics, and even worse metrics looking forward, the 2015 All Star may not be that much of an improvement over Jeff Locke or even Steven Brault. For now though, it just looks like speculation.