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 2016 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 $26.95 is well spent, and for that price you get a downloadable version, too. Buy the Forecaster here.
2016 Projections vs. 2015 Actuals and 2015 Projections - St. Louis Cardinals Pitching
|* incl MiLB|
* Major league equivalent Triple-A stats are included, so 2015 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 are not intended to be summed up as a forecast for the team, but I do it anyway to satisfy my own curiosity.
Last year, the totaling of the Cardinals projected pitcher wins came to 96. The team won 100. The staff leader was pegged to win 16. He ended up with 17.
This year, they add up to 86, with the most from one pitcher being 15. Especially after delving into the individual performances, that total seems about right.
Five Clear Starters. Unlike last year, when the identity of the fifth starter was unclear, the 2016 rotation is set, barring injury.
Starting at the top, Adam Wainwright’s innings and wins are tamped down slightly from his last healthy season of 2014. Given the staff ace’s health in 2015, it does not seem unreasonable. Then again, there is no reason the forecasted totals could not be exceeded, either.
The Forecaster is very complimentary of Carlos Martinez’ breakout 2015, yet when it came time for projections, little further growth is expected in 2016. This surprised me.
Michael Wacha’s health issues/slumps late in each of the last two seasons are not considered an issue. More so than any other Cardinals pitcher, Wacha is expected to basically repeat his 2015 – which was pretty good overall.
Newcomer Mike Leake is considered “average,” with projections for 2016 that are below what was expected from Lance Lynn in 2015. Further, lefty Jaime Garcia is expected to backslide from his standout 2015.
The Forecaster called Cooney’s six St. Louis starts last season “serviceable” and noted his peripherals there were better than he had shown in Triple-A, calling him a player to “monitor closely” in the spring.
Not surprisingly, the 2016 from the lefty Gonzales depends on whether or not he can once again show his 2014 skills. The forecast isn’t leaning hard one way or the other.
HQ likes Lyons, especially given him “kicking it up a notch in relief work,” which is his likely role to start 2016.
Left-handed relief. Obviously, Kevin Siegrist is the Cardinals’ only given at this point. The Forecaster liked his first half of 2015, but did not go for his walks in the second. Another perceived weakness is lefties, who “have their way with him”. Siegrist is expected to soak up whatever stray saves Trevor Rosenthal does not get. The bottom line, however, is an ERA up well over a run from year to year.
See the sixth starter discussion above for the other likely lefty reliever.
Right-handed relief. Like many Cardinals fans, HQ characterizes Rosenthal as causing “anxious moments.” The summary: “2016 regression looks inevitable.” The ERA? Almost one run higher than 2015.
Seth Maness gets thrown on the “righty specialist” pile, he does receive one of the few forecasts among Cardinals pitchers to improve over 2015.
The Forecaster is a fan of Jordan Walden’s skills, but notes he has spent time on the DL in each of the last four seasons. With that and his current malady in mind, even 44 innings in 2016 seems highly optimistic.
Jonathan Broxton does not appear in the 2016 Forecaster.
Newcomers. Both of the Cardinals representatives among MLB’s top 75 impact prospects for 2016 are pitchers. Alex Reyes comes in at number 14 with Marco Gonzales at 43rd.
Though Reyes’ suspension was noted, I question his ability to impact the big-league club next season. As expected, Gonzales’ outlook is dependent on his recovery from injury. Cooney was not mentioned.
It is hard for me to see these impact prospects truly making a significant impact in 2016.
The departed. As one might guess, HQ is predicting a mild, age-driven downturn from John Lackey. New Seattle reliever Steve Cishek is down for a partial bounceback from his very rough first half as Miami’s closer.
As noted above, the numbers for any one individual 2016 Cardinals pitcher may not excite. In fact, most every pitcher is expected to experience a downturn year to year, from slight to significant depending on the individual - with the highlights being those pitchers projected to hold flat.
When you pull the large view together, it is not surprising that the Cardinals are not expected to match their 2015, a group performance that set a 27-year MLB record for low team ERA.
While the 2016 Cardinals attack may be more balanced, unless the hitting picks up the slack from the pitching, that backed-into 86 win total seems more likely than 100.
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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