Hopefully this report will help give readers an idea of which of the starters performed best. Each of the seven starters was ranked relative to the others based on his 2011 performance. The rankings did NOT consider a pitcher's potential as a future major league pitcher as a major factor. This report will review who was eligible for "Starter of the Year", provide detailed end-of-the-year statistics for each starter, and break down the statistics to support the final starter ranking.
This is the third in a series of four post-season reports on the Johnson City Cardinals:
2011 Johnson City Cardinals Team Review (Sep. 21, 2011)
Johnson City Cardinals 2011 Reliever of the Year (Sep. 30, 2011)
The overall Cardinals organization awards summary can be viewed here:
|Pitching coach Doug White with Kyle Hald|
The roster saw a total of ten
starting pitchers during the 68-game season. Eight of those starters played
Pitchers Eligible for
Weeks 1-6 Starting Pitcher Rotation:
RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1)
RHP Josh Lucas (2)
LHP Kyle Hald (3A) and LHP Ryan Sherriff (3B)
RHP Eduardo Hiraldo (4)
RHP Jose Pasen (5)
LHP Ben Freeman (6)
By Week 4, the pitch limits went up to about 90 and 70. In Week 5, Hald got up to 81 pitches and had basically worked himself into a regular starter. In Week 6, Sherriff progressed to 75 pitches and had also essentially worked himself into a regular starter.
Did Any Starters Lose Playing Time During the Year?
Only one of the seven starters lost any playing time during the year.
RHP Josh Lucas (4-1, 3.97 ERA) felt some pain in his pitching elbow after his start in Game 44. The elbow pain did not get better quickly enough and after several consultations, the decision was made to shut him down for the remainder of the season. Rest was the prescribed remedy and Lucas should be ready to go for 2012 spring training. Lucas likely missed three regular season starts and one playoff appearance due to the injury.
The Cardinals maintained the previous rotation until Lucas encountered his elbow pain after Week 7 (67 pitch outing in Game 44). That is when they split up Hald and Sherriff and went with a completely "non-tandem" six-man rotation:
Week 7 Starting Pitcher Rotation:
RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1)
LHP Kyle Hald (2)
LHP Ryan Sherriff (3)
RHP Eduardo Hiraldo (4)
RHP Jose Pasen (5)
LHP Ben Freeman (6)
|White with Ben Freeman|
Any Starter Roster Changes?
LHP Ryan Sherriff (2-2, 4.54 ERA) was promoted to the Batavia Muckdogs of the New-York Penn League after Game 51 (August 16): "Sherriff: Checking Out A New Town". Sherriff threw 33.2 innings for Johnson City as a tandem starter with Hald before throwing 16.2 IP over three starts in the NYPL (1-1, 2.70 ERA).
Sherriff was replaced in the rotation by LHP Nick Gillung:
Week 8-11 Starting Pitcher Rotation:
RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1)
LHP Kyle Hald (2)
LHP Nick Gillung (3)
RHP Eduardo Hiraldo (4)
RHP Jose Pasen (5)
LHP Ben Freeman (6)
RHP Juan Bautista, who had 56.1 IP
in the Dominican Summer League, was promoted to start the second to the last
regular season game (Game 67): "Johnson City Cardinals in the
News". Bautista was considered for DSL Starting Pitcher of the
Year. The 18-year-old went six innings in his
first start in the
LHP Tyler Melling, who pitched
30.1 innings in relief in the Gulf Coast League, was promoted to start the last
regular season game (Game 68): "Melling: Moving
North". Melling was considered for GCL Relief Pitcher of the
Year. He went five innings in his first
professional start for
Those two late-season promotions helped set up the final postseason rotation. In the playoffs, the Cardinals chose to mix up the sequence a little bit as they dropped Gillung from the three spot:
Postseason Starting Rotation (W-L, ERA):
RHP Tyrell Jenkins (1) – (0-1, 7.20 ERA)
LHP Kyle Hald (2) – (1-0, 3.86 ERA)
RHP Eduardo Hiraldo (3) – (1-0, 1.17 ERA)
RHP Jose Pasen (4) – (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
LHP Nick Gillung (5) – (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Hald threw the most pitches (98) in a single outing by a Cardinals pitcher in the playoffs.
Starter Team Statistics and Summary
The seven starters combined for a 27-15 record and one save over 359.1 IP (58.5% of the team's total IPs). This is a BIG decrease in percent of innings pitched over last year (77%) when the tandem starter system was used. As a group, they averaged 9.1 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.4 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and 3.2SO/BB. They combined for a 1.28 WHIP, a 3.88 ERA, and a 3.73 FIP. Their BABIP of .314 was just below the league average of .321. They caught a respectable 43% of possible base stealers and picked off 14. The 2011 starters, when compared to the 2010 starters, were better in H/9 but were worse in all the other averages listed above.
|Hald with All-Star plaque|
It was pretty clear from both the statistics and from watching the games that there were two starters regularly performing statistically better than average for Johnson City (Hald and Jenkins), two starters that performed around the team average (Freeman and Pasen), and three starters that were inconsistent and slightly below average (Sherriff, Lucas and Hiraldo). Jenkins and Hald probably shared "ace of the staff" designation through the year. Hald was named to the All-Star Team as left-handed pitcher of the year in the Appalachian League.
As a team,
|Left-Handed Starters (3):|
|Right-Handed Starters (4):|
Individual Starter Statistics
Listed in the table below are some
of the key statistics for the seven
|BAA v RH||0.188||0.299||0.231||?/.282||0.270||0.310||0.271|
|BAA v LH||0.151||0.291||0.280||?/.136||0.306||0.304||0.248|
Pitch Types and Velocities
When velocities are mentioned in the discussions below, those unfamiliar with the Appalachian League should understand how things work. Virtually every ballpark in the league has a display on or near the outfield scoreboard for pitch velocities. Unfortunately, most of the displays either don't work or are not hooked up to a radar gun. How each ballpark handles it varies.
Both teams and scouts sit behind home plate and record pitch velocities. Sometimes it is easy to get a seat behind them so that you can see the velocities as they register on the radar guns; sometimes it is not. I prefer to not do this while I observe a game but sometimes I will. I did this for all of Jenkins' home starts.
Jenkins: His fastball sits 93-94 MPH and it looks like it is a very easy effort to throw that velocity. He will touch 96 MPH. He will get several strikeouts (both swinging and called) each start from good location of his fastball. His changeup is a good pitch but still needs improvement. It will vary in velocity from 80 to 86 MPH. His curve is normally tight with a sharp break. His curve is probably his best strikeout pitch. It is generally 76-78 MPH when thrown well. Jenkins' primary problem is reproducing his mechanics consistently through a start. It was apparent, especially through his last few starts, that his 3/4 arm slot would tend to move to a more over-the-top/high-3/4 slot in the later innings of a start. This caused a drop in his velocity on his fastball to as low as 86-89 MPH. Jenkins used to throw a slider that he is trying to switch to a tight curve. He will occasionally show a "slurve" type pitch in the low 80s that is basically evidence that he is still working on this switch. It was interesting watching the scouts look at each other and ask "what was that?" when he would uncork one.
This year, the only ballpark that had velocities displayed (of the five ballparks I visited) was Elizabethton (Twins). I attended four games there (Aug 1, 2, 12, and 14) and recorded starter velocities for Hiraldo, Pasen (twice), and Sherriff. Here is a summary of my notes for those three starters:
Sherriff: Aug 12: 4 IP, 75 pitches, 46 strikes, 4 K, 4 R,
4 ER, 5H (including two doubles and two home runs), Loss. His last appearance before promotion to
Hiraldo: Aug 1: 4.2 IP, 81 pitches, 50 strikes, 5 K, 4 R, 0 ER, Loss. Walked three on loss of fastball command. Two of the walks were after an error. Fastball sat 86-91 MPH, touched 94 MPH, and recorded one called/three swinging strikeouts. Curve was 80-84 MPH and recorded one swinging strikeout.
Pasen: Two games; both mid 80 pitch totals over six innings; one win (0 BB and 9 K) and one no decision (2 BB and 4 K). Aug 2 (no decision): 6 IP, 83 pitches, 50 strikes, 4 K. Fastball sat 86-89 MPH, touched 90 MPH, and recorded one swinging/two called strikeouts. 78-82 MPH changeup that touched 84 MPH. 70-74 MPH curve with one swinging strikeout. Aug 14 (Win): 6 IP, 87 pitches, 60 strikes, 9 K. Fastball sat 88-92 MPH, touched 94 MPH, and recorded two swinging/two called strikeouts. 79-84 MPH changeup. 71-76 MPH curve with four swinging/one called strikeouts.
During the "Meet the Cardinals" event in late June, I asked each pitcher what his fastball velocity was and what he thought his best pitches were. Here is a summary of my notes for the starters (special thanks to Dyllon Nuernberg and Roberto De La Cruz for Spanish translations). Some of the comments were from Pitching Coach Doug White (preseason) and some are mine (postseason):
Hald: Will work on trying to stay closed on delivery. Sturdy frame with good command of four pitches. Lefty with good location and movement on pitches. Fastball sits upper 80s and touches 91 MPH. Best pitches: slider >4-seam fastball > curve > changeup.
Jenkins: Young with easy mid-90s velocity. Working on new 2-seam sinker. Delivery is not consistent through entire start. Needs to work on consistent delivery mechanics and changeup. Fastball 94 MPH. 4-seam > curve > changeup.
Pasen: Fastball touches 93-94 MPH. 4-seam fastball = 2-seam fastball > curve.
Sherriff: Lean and athletic lefty. Long stride with repeatable mechanics. Needs to work on command. Fastball touches 90-91 MPH. Changeup > 4-seam fastball (some 2-seam) > curve.
Freeman: Young lefty that needs to add weight and muscle. Fastball mid to high 80s MPH. Curve>4-seam fastball = 2-seam fastball> changeup (work in progress).
Lucas: Fastball 87-92 MPH. 2-seam sinker > changeup > curve.
Hiraldo: Fastball touches 93-94 MPH. Fastball >curve.
The Rankings Explained
#1 Kyle Hald: The Appy League Left-handed Pitcher of the Year (see photo gallery above) was an obvious pick here. Although he started the year in obscurity in a tandem with Sherriff, the lefty quickly separated himself from the pack by showing good command of all of his pitches. Tends to get his body ahead of his arm during delivery which causes a sore shoulder. Needs to learn to use his core more. Has excellent lower body strength and drive. Could work on athleticism. Good competitor. Hald led all seven starters in wins (7), losses (0), ERA (1.84), FIP (2.79), WHIP (0.86), BAA (.178), H/9 (5.7), 10.6 (SO/9), and SO/BB (5.3). He was the oldest (22.3 yrs.) and the luckiest (.236 BABIP). His extremely low BABIP should point to some regression next year. Should see him in Quad Cities next year.
|Brent Strom taking video of Jenkins|
#2 Tyrell Jenkins: Easy velocity makes the future bright
for the young righty from
#3 Jose Pasen: With a little more mental and pitching consistency, the Dominican could have had a very good year. Pasen has all the stuff of a very good pitcher; low to mid 90s velocity with a very good curve. He just wasn't very consistent through the year from start to start and even inning to inning at times. He pitched much better from the windup (.227 BAA with bases empty) than the stretch (.292 BAA with runners on base). He tied with Hiraldo for the team lead in IP (60.2) and was essentially at the team's average for almost all the other starter categories. He should compete for a starters spot with Quad Cities next year.
#4 Ryan Sherriff: The lefty out of a small community
college in AZ looks to have a very reproducible and athletic delivery. Sherriff just needs to work on his
command and on maintaining good arm speed with his changeup. The mid-season promotion seemed to be
good for him as he performed better at
#5 Ben Freeman: He's still only 19 years old so
he has the potential to improve over the next few years. If he adds some weight and starts
working his lower body more, he should add velocity. Freeman doesn't throw hard and seems to
hold himself back at times. He had
the worst control (4.2 BB/9) of the starters but the third best strikeout rate
(8.6 SO/9) and the second lowest home run rate (0.55 HR/9). Freeman's FIP of 3.67 was better than
Pasen and Sherriff, who were ranked in front of him. His .350 BABIP would indicate he was a
little unlucky this year so a better year in 2012 is possible. His high leg kick and relatively slow
delivery led to difficulties with base runners. Freeman allowed over two stolen bases
per nine innings. Freeman was worse
against lefties than righties and he worse from the stretch (.313 BAA) than from
the windup (.255 BAA). A return
#6 Josh Lucas: A classic pitch-to-contact righty, Lucas
had his season derailed by an elbow injury. He could have easily finished in the top
three of my rankings with a strong and injury-free finish to the season. Lucas led all the starters with a 2.22
GO/AO and 1.8 BB/9. However, he had
the worst SO/9 (5.0), H/9 (11.3), and BAA (.308). His 2-seam sinker is very good when it
is kept low in the zone. Teaching
it to Jenkins would seem to be a good idea. How Lucas had just one base runner
attempting to steal while Freeman had 23 just boggles my mind. If Lucas returns to 2012 Spring Training
healthy, he could compete for a position with Quad Cities. Considering the injury,
#7 Eduardo Hiraldo: The 3-7 spots were really tough. Any of the pitchers, on any given week, could be a 3 or a 7. Statistically, Hiraldo was definitely one of the two best starters in the playoffs (most IP, lowest starter ERA). Hiraldo struggled with consistency during much of the regular season but he usually pitched very well against good teams on the road (where you would least expect good performance). His 11 strikeout performance in Elizabethton in Game 52 on August 13 was one of the top three starter performances of the regular season. Hiraldo's biggest nemesis was home runs. His 10 HRs allowed was tied for worst in the league and he was last among the starters in home run rate (1.5 HR/9). Hiraldo pitched better with runners on (.250 BAA) and with runners in scoring position (.192 BAA) than he did from the windup (.266 BAA). Needless to say, Hiraldo was a bit of a head scratcher for me. It seemed like he needed extra pressure to pitch well. His face routinely shows an intense grimace during delivery; almost like it is a painful maximum effort. He has a short stride and a stiff looking motion. His curve is a very good strikeout pitch when it is "on". When he keeps his fastball down in the zone, he can get strikeouts with it also. Hiraldo is already 22 years old so he should move up next year.
Starter Regular Season League Leaders
Kyle Hald (7 Wins, t-2nd)
Kyle Hald (63 SO, 3rd).
NOTE: With one more IP, Hald (7-0, 1.84 ERA, 0.86 WHIP) would have been first in WHIP and second in ERA. The statistical similarities between Hald's 2011 season and Ryan Copeland's 2010 season (7-0, 1.86 ERA, 0.86 WHIP) were eerily similar. Both were lefties and both were Appy All-Stars. Copeland failed to qualify for the league leaders by one and one third innings pitched.
Eduardo Hiraldo (3.71 ERA, 7th)
Tyrell Jenkins (3.86 ERA, 8th).
Jose Pasen (1.24 WHIP, 8th).
Eduardo Hiraldo (1.35 WHIP, 9th)
The starters for the playoffs (in
order of IP) were Hiraldo, Hald, Gillung (covered with the relievers in a
previous article), Pasen, and Jenkins.
Sherriff was in
The five starters combined for a 3.52 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, and6.2 SO/9 over 30.2 IP (70% of the total). Their ERA and SO/9 were significantly worse than the relievers (2.02 ERA and 8.8 SO/9) but their WHIP and BB/9 were better (1.12 WHIP and 5.4 BB/9).
Last year, the offense outshined the pitching in the playoffs but this year, the pitching got the upper hand.
The entire pitching staff (starters and relievers) combined for a 3.07 ERA (1st) and 1.05 WHIP (1st). They led the playoffs with two saves and four wins.
Nick Gillung (1-0, 1.50 ERA) was first in WHIP (0.50), tied for fourth in innings pitched (6.0), fourth in ERA (1.50), and tied for sixth in strikeouts (6).
Eduardo Hiraldo (1-0, 1.17 ERA) was first in innings pitched (7.2), third in ERA (1.17) and fourth in WHIP (0.78).
Kyle Hald (1-0, 3.86 ERA) was tied for second in strikeouts (7) and third in innings pitched (7.0).
BAA is batting average allowed. The lower the better. A number of .200 or below is very good.
BABIP is batting average on balls in play. This is a measure of the number of batted balls, excluding home runs, which are hits. The exact formula used here for a pitcher is (H-HR)/(BF-BB-HBP-SO-HR). The average BABIP in the Appy League this year, according to Baseball America, was .321. Numbers significantly lower than .321 normally indicate that a pitcher was "lucky". Numbers significantly higher than .321 normally indicate that a pitcher was "unlucky".
BB is a walk. The fewer the better.
BB/9 is walks allowed per nine innings pitched. The lower the better. BB/9 = 9*BB/IP.
BF is batters faced.
BS is a blown save. The fewer the better.
CS is the number of base runners caught stealing while the pitcher was pitching.
CS% is a calculation of the percent of base runners caught stealing while the pitcher was on the mound. Although catchers typically have more control over CS% than pitchers, the higher this is the better. CS% = 100*CS/(SB + CS).
E is an error. F is fielding, T is throwing, and
ER is earned runs allowed. A run is "earned" if bad fielding defense didn't contribute to the run scoring.
ERA is earned run average. A run is "earned" if bad fielding defense didn't contribute to the run scoring. ERA is calculated as nine times the earned runs allowed divided by the innings pitched. ERA = 9*ER/IP.
FIP is fielding independent pitching. It is similar to ERA and uses a constant to allow comparison to ERA. It is a measure of all things directly under a pitcher's control. The formula used is[(HR*13 + (BB+HBP-IBB)*3 - SO*2)/IP] + 3.2. FIP helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, independent of how well the fielders fielded. The lower the FIP the better.
G is the number of games appeared in.
GF is the number of games the pitcher finished. The "closer" typically leads the team.
GO/AO is ground out per air out. With the Cardinal organizational preference of pitchers "pitching to contact" with a good sinker, the bigger the GO/AO, the better. A pitcher with a GO/AO of two or greater relies heavily on a sinker such as a slider, cut fastball, splitter, or 2-seam fastball.
H is hits allowed. The fewer the better.
H/9 is hits allowed per nine innings pitched. The lower the better. H/9 = 9*H/IP.
HBP is hit by pitch. This can be a good or bad stat. The bad side is that it leads to a base runner. The good side is that it shows that a pitcher is willing to pitch inside.
|Cardinals farm Director John Vuch|
HLD is a hold. The more the better. However, don't read too much into this stat. A pitcher can pitch poorly and still record a hold.
HR is home runs allowed. The fewer the better.
H/9 is home runs allowed per nine innings pitched. The lower the better. HR/9 = 9*HR/IP.
IBB is intentional walks.
Inherited is the number of runners that were on base when a pitcher entered a game.
IP is innings pitched. To be considered a league leader in the Appy League, a pitcher needed to maintain a minimum of 0.8 IP per "league-game". That corresponds to 54 and 2/3 IP. The most IPs for a 2011 starter was 60 and 2/3 IP. Only Hiraldo, Pasen, and Jenkins had enough IPs to qualify for the league leaders this year. Hald, who was tied up in a tandem for over half the year, was just 1 IP short of qualifying for the league leaders.
IS% is the percentage of inherited runners that scored. The lower the better. A pitcher with a low IS% is more likely to be inserted in a game during an inning (rather than starting his own inning). IS% = 100*Scored/Inherited.
|Pitching coach Doug White|
LH (also L or LHP) is left handed (also lefty or left-handed pitcher).
R is runs allowed. The fewer runs the better.
RH (also R or RHP) is right handed (also righty or right-handed pitcher).
RISP is runners in scoring position (second or third base).
SB is stolen bases allowed. The catcher typically has more control over this stat however; a big number is not good for a pitcher.
Scored is the number of inherited runners that scored. The fewer that score the better.
SO is a strikeout. The more the better.
SO/9 is strikeouts per nine innings pitched. The bigger the better. These are almost always higher for relievers since they pitch fewer innings. SO/9 = 9*SO/IP.
SO/BB is strikeouts per walk. The bigger the better.
SV is a save. The more the better.
SV% is save percentage. SV% is calculated as 100 times the saves divided by the sum of saves and blown saves. SV% = 100*SV/(SV+BS).
W is wins. Due to limited pitch counts for the starters, relievers get a lot of these.
WHIP is walks plus hits per inning pitched. The lower the better. 1.0 and below is considered very good. WHIP = (BB+H)/IP.
WP is a wild pitch. Catchers can have a big impact on this stat however, in general, the more WPs, the less control the pitcher has of his pitches. Therefore, the fewer the better.
Johnson City 2011 Position Player of the Year – Scheduled October 19, 2011
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