Please see the earlier article for all the disclaimers about from where the data came and how it should be used. Suffice it to say that the Forecaster has been the leading publication of its kind for over a quarter of a century for good reason.
The $25.95 is well spent, and for that price you get a downloadable version, too. Buy the Forecaster here.
2014 Projections vs. 2013 Actuals and 2013 Projections - St. Louis Cardinals Pitching
|* incls MiLB|
Before I delve down into the individual players, I have a few general observations/remarks. First of all, the Forecaster did not really go out far enough on a limb to predict what ended up happening to most all of the Cardinals rookie pitchers last season. That isn't their game.
In most cases, these 2014 projections represent small improvements over the pitchers' 2013 actuals. On one hand, that might be disappointing, but in aggregate, it is not.
Even though the data is not intended to be used this way, a simple totaling of the projected pitching wins for the 11 hurlers listed above comes to 94. I am pretty sure anyone would be very happy if that is what actually happens.
Maybe Michael Wacha will get a few more wins and Lance Lynn will get a few less, for example, but the big picture looks promising. Heck, the staff leader would have just 16 victories if the projections came to pass, but on the other hand, how credible would this data be if the Cardinals pitchers totaled up to 120 wins?
Innings. As it often does, the Forecaster is playing it down the middle in terms of innings workload. I think most would be happy if Adam Wainwright did not pitch 242 regular season innings again. He would be augmented by Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller in the 190-200 range and Wacha around 160.
From there, it gets murky. A wait-and-see attitude adopted for the post-shoulder surgery version of Jaime Garcia is understandable. To me, Joe Kelly's innings feel high at around 150, but I would have said that the last two years, too. The real wild card is Carlos Martinez, who like Trevor Rosenthal, may pitch so well that he remains in the pen.
Wins. In no surprise, Wainwright is penciled in as the win leader, but with "only" 16. Actually, he is the tri-leader, as Miller and Lynn are also down for 16 each. I think Waino's number is too conservative, personally.
Wacha and Kelly are clustered at 10 and nine, respectively. Keeping in mind the 94 total, I think Wacha is low and Kelly high. Then, we see Garcia at seven and Martinez at 6. I would not be surprised to see one of them with 10 or 11 and the other with two or three.
Saves. This category may indicate more strength than even the Cardinals rotation in a year after the closing job shifted owners five times. Trevor Rosenthal does not have a long track record pitching the ninth, but finished 2013 very strongly and is backed by a tremendous skill set. Assuming Jason Motte bounces back from Tommy John surgery, the 2014 Cardinals should not miss a beat when Rosenthal needs a day off.
ERA. Those Cardinals pitcher expected to log higher ERAs in 2014 are… well, everyone not named Lance Lynn. Recognized as a workhorse, Lynn is down for a 2014 that would be a slight tick better than his 2013.
Youngsters Wacha and Miller are each expected to add about a half-run per game onto their ERAs. For Wacha, it is a fear of the unknown – his limited track record - while Miller's late-season dropoff in 2013 was noted.
The starter with the biggest change would be Joe Kelly, over a run higher per nine innings from last year. The Forecaster notes his 2013 command, dominance and control "all lost ground from 2012" and adds a concern about Kelly's low strikeout rates despite high velocity.
Kevin Siegrist also takes a big ERA bump, but his projected 2014 mark of 2.74 still seems realistic.
WHIP. The walks plus hits per inning comparison tells a bit of a different story from ERA. In this stat, a surrogate for baserunners allowed, a majority of the staff is expected to allow slightly fewer hitters on the bases than in 2013.
Kelly and Siegrist are the only ones projected to see big increases. The former is the only one of the 11 Cardinals pitchers expected to log a 2014 WHIP above the 2013 Major League Baseball average of 1.30. In other words, if that comes to pass, it would be pretty good.
Strikeouts. Though the Cardinals are never really a strikeout team, any year-to-year changes seem driven by role uncertainty (starting versus relieving). Another factor is that four of the pitchers' 2013 numbers also take into account their minor league results. It is difficult to feel strongly one way or the other about these strikeout projections.
The departed. Edward Mujica would need injury help to achieve 25 saves. Despite having the capability, opportunity must be created. Perhaps a change of scenery will help Fernando Salas, though the Forecaster seems to doubt it. It seems more likely to me that Jake Westbrook will retire than pitch 102 MLB innings in 2014.
Note: Lefty reliever Randy Choate was not listed in the Forecaster. He is used so specially, I guess there isn't much to project.
As noted above, the numbers for any one individual 2014 Cardinals pitcher may not excite. When you put the mixed bag together, however, you get an overall positive outlook for the staff, and by extension, the team itself. It is difficult to argue with the bottom line.
For graciously sharing their data as they do each year at this time, thank you again to the fine folks and friends at BaseballHQ.com.
Part one: "BaseballHQ predicts 2014 Cardinals hitters"
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
© 2013 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.