In Part one of this two-part annual series, we looked at the projections for the hitters expected to play front-line roles on the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals using data from BaseballHQ’s Baseball Forecaster.
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.
2015 Projections vs. 2014 Actuals and 2014 Projections - St. Louis Cardinals Pitching
|* incl MiLB|
* Major league equivalent Triple-A stats are included, so 2014 numbers for these players are not true actuals.
Before I delve down into the individual players, I have a few general observations/remarks. Though the individual players’ win totals do not appear all that impressive, here is another way to look at it.
Even though the data is not intended to be used this way, a simple totaling of the projected pitching wins for the hurlers listed above comes to 96. I am pretty sure anyone would be very happy if that is what actually comes to pass.
Maybe Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha will get a few more wins and Marco Gonzales and Jaime Garcia will get a few less, for example, but the big picture looks promising. The staff leader would have just 16 victories if the projections came to pass. On the other hand, how credible would this data be if the Cardinals pitchers totaled up to 120 wins?
Four Clear Starters. Starting at the top, Adam Wainwright’s innings and wins are tamped down slightly. Given the staff ace’s health concerns in 2014, it does not seem unreasonable. A downside of DL time and a 3.50-plus ERA are mentioned. Then again, there is no reason the forecasted totals could not be exceeded, either.
While John Lackey’s numbers are basically flat from year to year, the Forecaster logs a concern over his reduced velocity in the second half of 2014 as well as risky healthy history.
We already know about Michael Wacha’s health scare last season. Yet there is no concern stated and in fact, an upside of 18 wins and 3.00 ERA is offered.
Taken-for-granted Lance Lynn shouldn’t be. He is expected to lead the staff in innings pitched and tied with Wainwright for wins. The only warning is an ERA almost a run higher than in 2014.
Starting Competitors. The two major names in this category are Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales, but we cannot forget about Jaime Garcia, either.
Interestingly, the Forecaster has the lefty Gonzales and the righty Martinez pitching the same workload with the same strikeout totals, perhaps because it was assumed that Martinez would have to remain in the bullpen. The Atlanta trade may have helped alleviate that perceived need, but we will see.
HQ expects Martinez to take off in 2015 while they list Gonzales number 17 among their list of 75 top MLB prospects. In a good reminder of the organization’s pitching depth, Tim Cooney also makes the impact list at number 46, with the praise that his control is some of the best in the entire minor leagues.
The oft-injured Garcia is penciled in for 90 innings and six wins. Most of us would probably take the “under” on that bet, but would be delighted to lose.
Left-handed relief. Even if Gonzales does perform in the rotation, Sam Freeman is down for a full load in the pen from the left side. Kevin Siegrist is close. Worries are expressed about Freeman getting out left-handed hitters and Siegrist’s health.
Randy Choate, still under contract, did not even receive a mention in the Forecaster for the second consecutive year as a Cardinal.
Right-handed relief. The arrival of Jordan Walden could be Martinez’ permanent ticket out of the pen. Walden is expected to soak up whatever stray saves Trevor Rosenthal does not get. Like many Cardinals fans, HQ characterizes Rosenthal as “risky,” characterized by an inability to get strike one.
Though Seth Maness gets thrown on the “soft-tosser” pile, he does receive begrudging credit for filling a role needed on many winning teams. The Forecaster is not a fan of newcomer Matt Belisle, noting an ERA that has increased in each of the last four years fed by an erosion in command.
The departed. HQ is predicting a considerable bounceback from new Red Sox starter Justin Masterson. With the numerous health questions in their own rotation, the Cards could end up regretting Masterson walk if his projections come to pass.
Joe Kelly is expected to log a full season in the Red Sox’ rotation, picking up 11 wins. His best friend Shelby Miller’s projection calls for more strikeouts and wins than in 2014.
Reliever Jason Motte is a wild card. To oversimplify, if his velocity comes back, he will have a role. 2014 all-star Pat Neshek was given props for a totally unexpected season at an advancing age, but is not expected to repeat.
As noted above, the numbers for any one individual 2015 Cardinals pitcher may not excite. When you pull the large view 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 the pitching, though injuries could turn the team’s apparent strength into a weakness.
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.
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