Pitching is the last major piece of constructing our projected Wins Above Replacement (W.A.R.) for the 2009 season. I freely admit to being even more clueless, stats-wise, about pitching than I am about hitting, fielding, and baserunning. Of course, I'm not going to let that stop me from trying to come up with a projection, especially with your help! Think about who you think will be in the rotation and bullpen, how much they'll pitch, and how well they'll do. Then leave your ideas in the comments! A few ideas and projected numbers after the jump.
(And if you're not interested in the stats, skip the blocks of numbers and leave a comment about who you think will be pitching for us... I need all the help I can get, here.)
Nats Pitching in 2008
Here are what Nats pitchers did last season. I dropped people who've left the club (Tim Redding) or who seem unlikely to be back in the bigs (Matt Chico, Mike O'Connor). Some good spots, some bad...
Player G ERA IP K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 WHIP ERA+
John Lannan 31 3.91 182 5.8 3.6 1.6 1.1 1.341 112
Odalis Perez 30 4.34 159 6.7 3.1 2.2 1.2 1.484 101
Jay Bergmann 30 5.09 139 6.2 3 2 1.6 1.432 86
Collin Balester15 5.51 80 5.6 3.2 1.8 1.4 1.5 79
Shawn Hill 12 5.83 63.3 5.5 3.3 1.7 0.7 1.754 75
Saul Rivera 76 3.96 84 7 3.8 1.9 0.3 1.488 111
Joel Hanrahan 69 3.95 84.3 9.9 4.5 2.2 1 1.364 111
Jesus Colome 61 4.31 71 7 4.9 1.4 0.8 1.408 102
Steven Shell 39 2.16 50 7.4 3.6 2.1 0.9 1.08 203
Garrett Mock 26 4.17 41 10.1 5 2 0.9 1.463 105
Shairon Martis 5 5.66 20.7 10 5.2 1.9 2.2 1.449 77
Mike Hinckley 14 0 13.7 5.9 2 3 0 0.803
Marco Estrada 11 7.82 12.7 7.1 3.5 2 2.8 1.732 56
Tyler Clippard 2 4.35 10.3 7 6.1 1.1 1.7 1.845 101
Best last year was John "Cool Hand" Lannan, posting an impressive sub-4 ERA. Of course, his "peripherals" (strikeout and walk rates) are below average--2008 may have been a lucky year for him, in spite of his league-trailing run support from the Nats' bats. There's some hope, though--plenty of Nats pitchers posted good peripherals: "Wild" Joel Hanrahan managed nearly 10 K's per 9 IP and more than 2 Ks per BB; Shairon Martis and Garret Mock matched those figures (albeit in only a few IP). Saul "Sa-ooool" Rivera was particularly stingy with the dingers, giving up only 0.3 per 9 IP (league average is 1 HR/9--the rest of the staff is average-to-bad on this stat). League average is about 7 K/9 and 2 K/BB.
Projections of 2009
Here are what Marcels and CHONE say Nats pitchers will do, ERA-wise, in 2009:
Name CHONE Marcel
Jay Bergmann 4.50 4.64
Daniel Cabrera 4.40 5.00
Tyler Clippard 4.60 4.57
Jesus Colome 4.57 4.23
Joel Hanrahan 3.93 4.38
Shawn Hill 4.26 4.46
John Lannan 4.59 4.06
Garrett Mock 4.31 4.14
C. Balester 4.92 4.64
Shairon Martis 4.99 4.36
Marco Estrada 4.98 4.65
J. Zimmermann 5.16 n/a
Steven Shell 3.86 3.51
Mike Hinckley 5.18 3.66
Scott Olsen 4.78 4.45
Saul Rivera 3.87 4.09
The points of disagreement are interesting. Marcels has Cabrera (about whom I'm a little skeptical) much worse than CHONE. However, Marcels assumes he's pitching in the AL, while CHONE (correctly) has him in the "easier" NL--is this the difference? Both have Hill being serviceable-to-good (cross your fingers for his forearm!), but Lannan is another disagreement. Here, Marcels is projecting off of his good 2008, while CHONE is modifying those numbers with his below-average "peripherals" that I mentioned above. The two systems disagree on the younger players, as CHONE looks at some minor league data and the peripheral stats, while Marcels is projecting lucky or unlucky results based on limited time in the majors (Marcel doesn't even project Jordan "No, the one with two 'n's" Zimmermann, since he's never pitched in the bigs). I'm leaning toward the CHONE ERA projections, with modifications as you guys suggest.
Who's our ace? At this point, looks like John Lannan will get the nod. Olsen seems likely for the two-spot. After that? Well, Balester, then a revolving muddle of some combination of Shawn Hill, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Bergmann, Daniel Cabrera, and Shairon Martis. It'll depend on health and performance, and I don't have a good feel for how to fill out the bottom of the rotation.
For the purposes of the W.A.R. projection, we need to come up with 940 IP by starters. I figure Lannan and Olsen will probably stay in the rotation all year, and be good for 170ish IP. Colin "5-inning" Balester gets 130. As an entering argument, I'm just going to split up the rest of the innings evenly among the other five and hope that you guys have a better idea:
John Lannan 170
Scott Olsen 170
Colin Balester 130
Daniel Cabrera 94
Shawn Hill 94
J. Bergmann 94
J. Zimmermann 94
Shairon Martis 94
Oh, boy, this looks to be another mess. Well, I think we can agree on "Wild" Joel Hanrahan as closer and Rivera as setup guy. (The W.A.R. spreadsheet wants to know the "leverage" of your pitchers, which is a measure of how often they pitch in important situations: closers have a higher value than mop-up guys, with starters being neutral.) Steven Shell seems likely for 7th-inning guy, with some combination of Garret Mock, Mike Hinckley, Marco Estrada, and whoever falls off the rotation into the bullpen (Martis? Bergmann?) handling the middle/long relief. Jesus Colome was invited to Spring Training, so I'll pencil him in as mop-up guy for laughs.
To fill in the W.A.R. spreadsheet, we need to come up with 505 IP by relievers. As a starting guess, I'm going to say we have a save situation a bit less than half the time, so 70 IP each for Hanny/Saooool. I'm clueless on what to do with the rest, so I'm going to split it up evenly. That gives us this breakdown of IP:
Joel Hanrahan 70 (closer)
Saul Rivera 70 (setup)
Steven Shell 61 (7th inning)
Garret Mock 61
Jason Bergmann 60
Mike Hinckley 61
Marco Estrada 61
Jesus Colomoe 61 (mop up)
Are you kidding?
Sadly, no. This is really the best I can do, so please, help a fella out! What do you think the rotation should look like? Who should be in the bullpen, and in what role? How many innings will our starters last? (Heh, we should probably give the bullpen more IP than the spreadsheet calls for, given recent seasons' problems getting to the 6th inning...)
Combined with our previous lineup for position players, this rotation/bullpen gives us just over a 50% chance of winning 76 games in 2009 (and I've switched to the CHONE projections of batting in the WAR spreadsheet, mainly because the guys at Beyond the Boxscore seem to like it).