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The WAR Room: Analyzing Marcum on the comeback trail

Marcum's results are ahead of his performance so far in his rehab

The WAR Room: Analyzing Marcum on the comeback trail
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
August 24, 2014
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The WAR Room is back again, bringing you the 2014 advanced stats for every Cleveland minor leaguer. After looking at the hitters last week, today we focus on the pitchers.

Of course, it is always important to keep context in mind, just like with scouting. A pitcher who is old for his level using that experience to succeed against young, inexperienced hitters must be taken with a grain of salt; the same goes when looking at these WAR totals.

But it is a useful tool to put each player's performance into context and look at where they sit in regard to the rest of the league.

For reference on how I computed WAR, a reminder on the problems inherent in the stats, and everything else you need to know, click here. For a refresher on WAR and what it is, click here.

As a reminder, a 0.0 WAR per 162 games is replacement level -- otherwise known as the kind of performance an average player from the level below could offer -- a 2.0 WAR per 162 games is average, and a 5.0 WAR per 162 games is All-Star level.

Also note that pitchers have FIP-based WAR -- which is based on peripherals like strikeouts, walks, home runs, etc. -- and RA-based WAR -- which is based on runs allowed.

One more thing, all "+" stats are averaged at 100. Anything over 100, like 110, is higher and means that player is 10 percent better than the league average. Anything under 100, like 90, is lower and means that player is 10 percent worse than the league average. In the case of any "-" stats -- when lower is better, like with ERA -- a 90 ERA- means that player is 10 percent better than the league average.

Today we look at the hitters throughout the system. Next week we will do the pitchers. For the full stats, go ahead and click here. Stats are updated through Friday, August 22.

Columbus Clippers

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Kyle Davies Indians (AAA) 30 112.2 2.0 1.5
Zach McAllister Indians (AAA) 26 62.0 1.6 2.4
Travis Banwart Indians (AAA) 28 89.1 1.2 2.6
T.J. House Indians (AAA) 24 57.0 1.1 1.2
Tyler Cloyd Indians (AAA) 27 160.2 1.0 2.7
Danny Salazar Indians (AAA) 24 60.2 1.0 1.1
Trevor Bauer Indians (AAA) 23 46.0 0.7 2.1
Josh Tomlin Indians (AAA) 29 40.0 0.5 1.8
Gabriel Arias Indians (AAA) 24 65.1 0.5 0.3
Brett Brach Indians (AAA) 26 6.2 0.2 -0.4
Justin Masterson Indians (AAA) 29 11.2 0.2 0.0
Jordan Cooper Indians (AAA) 25 4.2 0.1 0.3
Duke von Schamann Indians (AAA) 23 9.2 -0.1 -0.1
Toru Murata Indians (AAA) 29 62.0 -0.2 0.1

 

Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Mike Zagurski Indians (AAA)/O 31 57.0 1.3 1.6
Vinnie Pestano Indians (AAA) 29 30.1 0.8 0.9
C.C. Lee Indians (AAA) 27 30.0 0.7 0.4
Austin Adams Indians (AAA) 27 49.2 0.6 1.3
Mark Lowe Indians (AAA) 31 38.0 0.3 -0.6
Tyler Sturdevant Indians (AAA) 28 23.2 0.3 0.5
Kyle Crockett Indians (AAA) 22 8.2 0.2 0.0
Josh Outman Indians (AAA) 29 18.1 0.1 -0.1
Scott Barnes Indians (AAA) 26 31.2 0.1 0.3
Shaun Marcum Indians (AAA) 32 11.0 0.1 0.3
Nick Hagadone Indians (AAA) 28 28.2 0.1 -0.1
Bryan Price Indians (AAA) 27 23.2 0.0 0.5
Elliot Johnson Indians (AAA) 30 0.2 0.0 0.0
Shawn Armstrong Indians (AAA) 23 1.0 -0.1 0.0
Blake Wood Indians (AAA) 28 8.0 -0.1 0.1
Benny Suarez Indians (AAA) 22 2.1 -0.5 -0.6
Frank Herrmann Indians (AAA) 30 29.2 -0.5 -0.5
J.C. Ramirez Indians (AAA) 25 27.0 -0.6 -0.2

Shaun Marcum (Photo: ESPN)The rehab trail has been slow for right-hander Shaun Marcum, but through 11.0 Triple-A innings, there are some encouraging results. Marcum has 0.1 FIP-based WAR and 0.3 RA-based WAR in that time as the right-hander has gotten results in his return to the upper levels of baseball. But while Marcum's 1.64 ERA (41 ERA-) looks nice on the surface, the 32-year-old is pretty far from being ready for the majors. In addition to still being stretched out, Marcum's results are more the byproduct of good fortune (.226 BABIP, 74 BABIP+) as opposed to a good approach (15.9 strikeout rate, 82 K%+; 11.4 walk rate, 129 BB%+). Following thoracic outlet surgery, it is not a surprise to see Marcum struggling with his command, which is why he is not quite ready for the majors.

The trade of Drew Stubbs was supposed to bring back a quality major league left-handed reliever in Josh Outman, but to date, things have not gone according to plan. Following a -0.3 fWAR in 24.2 innings and being designated for assignment, Outman continued to struggle a bit in Columbus, posting 0.1 FIP-based WAR and -0.1 RA-based WAR in 18.1 innings. Luckily for Outman, his 4.91 ERA (122 ERA-) is not supported by his 3.69 FIP (91 FIP-), yielding hope the left-hander can turn things around. Outman is striking out International League hitters at a 24.7 percent rate (128 K%+) while limiting his walks (6.5 percent walk rate, 73 BB%+), and while he does not seem to be on the immediate major league radar, he is doing all he can to get back there.

Injuries put right-hander Tyler Sturdevant's career on hold, but now the 28-year-old is back in Triple-A and looking good. In just 23.2 innings, Sturdevant already racked up 0.3 FIP-based WAR and 0.5 RA-based WAR, establishing himself as someone on the big league periphery. As someone who can get strikeouts and limit walks (24.7 percent strikeout rate, 128 K%+; 6.5 percent walk rate, 73 BB%+), Sturdevant is someone who could get a call sometime over the next few years. Cleveland is swimming in right-handed relief depth, but Sturdevant is making his case for why he should rise to the top.

Right-hander Bryan Price is not pitching as well as Sturdevant, however, as his 0.0 FIP-based WAR in 23.2 innings tempers the expectations his 0.5 RA-based WAR offers. Price is helped by a .258 BABIP (85 BABIP+), but the good news for the right-hander is his 1.14 HR/9 (149 HR/9+) will likely regress as time goes on (especially if he can get out of Huntington Park). The 27-year-old strikes out plenty of hitters (24.2 percent strikeout rate, 125 K%+), and while he needs to work on his 10.1 percent walk rate (114 BB%+), Price should get there in time.

Akron RubberDucks

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Will Roberts Indians (AA) 23 150.0 1.9 2.2
Joseph Colon Indians (AA) 24 138.0 1.8 3.3
Gabriel Arias Indians (AA) 24 69.0 1.1 1.8
Shawn Morimando Indians (AA) 21 43.2 0.9 0.5
Duke von Schamann Indians (AA) 23 124.1 0.8 1.8
Cody Anderson Indians (AA) 23 115.1 0.4 1.0
Toru Murata Indians (AA) 29 54.2 0.3 0.4
Matt Packer Indians (AA) 26 9.1 0.1 -0.3
Cole Sulser Indians (AA) 24 6.0 0.0 0.2
Nick Maronde Indians (AA) 24 4.0 0.0 -0.3
Kyle Davies Indians (AA) 30 29.2 -0.3 0.1

 

Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Shawn Armstrong Indians (AA) 23 51.0 1.0 1.6
Giovanni Soto Indians (AA) 23 48.1 0.8 0.5
Enosil Tejeda Indians (AA) 25 52.2 0.8 1.4
Tyler Sturdevant Indians (AA) 28 31.0 0.6 1.3
Kyle Crockett Indians (AA) 22 15.2 0.4 0.8
Bryan Price Indians (AA) 27 10.0 0.1 0.3
Louis Head Indians (AA) 24 31.1 0.1 0.4
J.C. Ramirez Indians (AA) 25 13.0 0.0 0.4
Elvis Araujo Indians (AA) 22 16.1 -0.1 0.6
Adam Miller Indians (AA) 29 37.1 -0.1 -0.7
Francisco Valera Indians (AA) 24 12.2 -0.4 -0.3
Jordan Cooper Indians (AA) 25 75.0 -0.5 -0.2
Trey Haley Indians (AA) 24 11.0 -0.6 -0.4

Joseph Colon (Photo: MiLB)Though right-hander Joseph Colon still owns a strong 1.8 FIP-based WAR and 3.3 RA-based WAR in 138.0 innings, he had been slipping of late. Those marks fell from 2.2 and 4.4 respectively since July 27, a falloff that could be the result of his shoulder injury. Colon went on the disabled list on Friday with a right shoulder strain, a scary injury for a pitcher who had issues staying healthy in the past. As it stands now, Colon's 138.0 innings mark a new career high (topping his 126.0 in 2012), but even if his performance drop over the past month is all injury-related, Colon does not seem to be a safe bet to make it through a full season.

After reaching Double-A in his first full professional season in 2012, right-hander Shawn Armstrong got stuck there over the course of three seasons. Armstrong finally got his promotion to Columbus recently due to a stellar 2014 season with the RubberDucks. With 1.0 FIP-based WAR and 1.6 RA-based WAR in 51.0 innings, Armstrong finally put together his talent and lived up to his promise. Armstrong is a power pitcher who walks a few more than average (9.2 percent walk rate, 112 BB%+) but more than makes up for it with a 32.9 percent strikeout rate (173 K%+). We will see how quickly that translates up to Triple-A, but as of right now, there is no reason to think Armstrong will not continue dominating hitters in the International League.

Right-hander Shawn Morimando is getting his first extended shot in Double-A following 231.1 innings in High-A and is doing well with it, posting 0.9 FIP-based WAR and 0.5 RA-based WAR in 43.2 innings. Morimando's FIP is aided by a low 0.41 HR/9 (53 HR/9+), something that could regress up over time (and once he leaves the friendly confines of Canal Park). But while home run suppression is helping Morimando, so is the ability to run a low 6.8 percent walk rate (83 BB%+). Morimando could use a few more strikeouts to go with his low walk total (15.7 percent strikeout rate, 83 K%+), but as it stands now, the 21-year-old is holding his own in Double-A, which is an encouraging sign for his long-term development.

Right-hander Trey Haley got a late start to the season due to a shoulder injury, and as of right now, he does not seem all the way back. In just 11.0 innings, Haley is already down to -0.6 FIP-based WAR and 0.4 RA-based WAR, which is the natural byproduct of walking more batters (18.2 percent walk rate, 222 BB%+) than you strike out (16.4 percent strikeout rate, 86 K%+). Issues with command have always been Haley's problem, but for some reason, they are hitting hi acutely right now. It could be rust or the effects of a lingering shoulder problem -- things that could get better in time -- but right now Haley is really struggling in Akron.

Carolina Mudcats

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Ryan Merritt Indians (A+) 22 148.1 2.8 5.1
Cole Sulser Indians (A+) 24 120.1 2.1 -0.9
D.J. Brown Indians (A+) 23 112.1 1.7 0.6
Michael Peoples Indians (A+) 22 95.2 1.4 0.7
Shawn Morimando Indians (A+) 21 96.1 1.0 2.1
Adam Plutko Indians (A+) 22 85.2 0.8 1.2
Dylan Baker Indians (A+) 22 32.2 0.3 0.1
Michael Clevinger Indians (A+) 23 10.2 0.0 0.0

 

Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Louis Head Indians (A+) 24 20.1 0.7 0.6
Josh Martin Indians (A+) 24 60.2 0.6 1.2
Grant Sides Indians (A+) 25 50.1 0.4 1.4
Elvis Araujo Indians (A+) 22 29.0 0.3 0.0
Jacob Lee Indians (A+) 24 66.2 0.2 1.0
Benny Suarez Indians (A+) 22 53.1 0.2 0.4
Robert Nixon Indians (A+) 25 48.2 -0.1 -0.7
Luis DeJesus Indians (A+) 22 1.2 -0.1 0.0
Ben Heller Indians (A+) 22 12.0 -0.2 0.1
Clayton Cook Indians (A+) 23 36.1 -0.2 -0.8
Carlos Melo Indians (A+) 23 10.2 -0.3 -1.0

Adam Plutko (Photo: MiLB)The Carolina results for right-hander Adam Plutko remain basically average (0.8 FIP-based WAR, 1.2 RA-based WAR in 85.2 innings), though the only real thing holding the 22-year-old back remains home runs. Five County Stadium has a reputation for suppressing home runs, yet Plutko is currently running a 1.16 HR/9 (191 HR/9+) that is wildly above the Carolina League average. The safe bet seems to be on that home run rate falling in time, especially considering Plutko allowed 0.17 HR/9 (29 HR/9+) in Lake County this season, with his home games coming in homer-friendly Classic Park. The results are decent for now, but assuming Plutko's elevated home run rate is just a fluke, he should be even better in the future.

Right-hander Dylan Baker's season started so well with six perfect innings, but after breaking his ankle before his second start and working his way back, the 22-year-old struggled a bit. Though the struggles are natural given the nature of his injury and the time off it required, 0.3 FIP-based WAR and 0.1 RA-based WAR in 32.2 innings is still pretty low. The most important thing for Baker is he is pitching again and getting some experience in 2014, but unfortunately his freak injury derailed a terrific start to the season and essentially turned it into a lost year.

On Friday, right-hander Cole Sulser pitched in relief for the first time this season, making way for right-hander Mike Clevinger to make a start. Given Clevinger's status as a newly-acquired pitcher the organization wants to give a chance to start, it is not surprising to see Sulser and his -0.9 RA-based WAR in 120.1 innings move to the bullpen. The move might not be permanent, however, and Sulser's 2.1 FIP-based WAR -- second only to Ryan Merritt on the Mudcats this year -- gives hope the right-hander will get better results going forward. It has been all about stranding runners for Sulser (51.2 percent strand rate, 74 LOB%+), and if that stat goes back to normal like it should, Sulser should be fine.

Right-hander D.J. Brown is in a similar boat to Sulser, with an above-average 1.7 FIP-based WAR in and a below-average 0.6 RA-based WAR in 112.1 innings. Brown's problems are more BABIP-related than Sulser's, as the right-hander pitches more to contact given his low 15.5 percent strikeout rate (79 K%+) and 6.5 percent walk rate (73 BB%+). Fewer strikeouts and walks means more balls in play, and when your BABIP goes up to .324 (106 BABIP+), that means more balls are falling in for hits. Like Sulser's strand rate, Brown's BABIP should come down over time, something that will let his solid approach to pitching shine through a little better.

Lake County Captains

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Mitch Brown Indians (A) 20 132.2 2.0 2.5
Adam Plutko Indians (A) 22 52.2 1.9 0.7
Luis Lugo Indians (A) 20 115.1 1.2 -0.5
Dace Kime Indians (A) 22 128.0 1.2 0.1
Jordan Milbrath Indians (A) 22 116.1 0.8 1.7
Zach McAllister Indians (A) 26 4.1 0.1 0.0

 

Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Trevor Frank Indians (A) 23 51.1 0.9 0.9
Robbie Aviles Indians (A) 22 80.1 0.8 1.1
Anderson Polanco Indians (A) 21 40.1 0.8 0.9
Ben Heller Indians (A) 22 37.0 0.7 1.0
Justin Brantley Indians (A) 23 37.0 0.3 1.5
Kenny Mathews Indians (A) 20 17.2 0.2 0.3
Justin Garcia Indians (A) 21 8.2 0.2 -0.1
Matt Whitehouse Indians (A) 23 32.2 0.1 -1.0
James Stokes Indians (A) 23 14.2 0.0 0.4
Brian Ruiz Indians (A) 21 1.0 0.0 0.0
Cody Ferrell Indians (A) 24 0.2 0.0 -0.1
Carlos Melo Indians (A) 23 23.1 -0.1 -0.4
Luis DeJesus Indians (A) 22 7.2 -0.2 -0.3
Kerry Doane Indians (A) 23 16.1 -0.2 -0.4
Wander Beras Indians (A) 25 63.0 -0.2 -1.0
Caleb Hamrick Indians (A) 20 90.0 -1.1 -2.9
Alexis Paredes Indians (A) 22 60.0 -1.1 -1.6

Mitch Brown (Photo: MiLB)Life has been good recently for right-hander Mitch Brown, as the second round pick in the 2012 draft has taken a big step forward in his second full professional season. Though an above-average 2.0 FIP-based WAR and 2.5 RA-based WAR in 132.2 innings is not groundbreaking, seeing Brown get results after last season's struggles is great. There are still things for Brown to work on, as his results are helped by a 0.34 HR/9 (57 HR/9+) and his 10.0 percent walk rate (119 BB%+) is still high, but it is a step in the right direction for Brown. The right-hander is still only 20 years old, is on the upswing, and should get a shot to continue this success in Carolina next year.

Left-hander Anderson Polanco is getting a chance to start now and is making the most of it, putting up 0.8 FIP-based WAR and 0.9 RA-based WAR in just 40.1 innings. Plus, those WAR results are still for relievers -- since the majority of Polanco's appearances have come out of the bullpen this season -- and will get even better the more he keeps performing this well as a starting pitcher (since it is easier to pitch for one innings as a reliever, the WAR baselines for relievers are higher). Polanco's results will regress down a bit as his .234 BABIP (77 BABIP+) and 0.22 HR/9 (37 HR/9+) rise, but with a 30.8 percent strikeout rate (148 K%+), the 21-year-old is definitely an interesting pitcher to watch.

Right-hander Robbie Aviles has gone the opposite way as Polanco, with Aviles pitching out of the bullpen after returning from the disabled list. Though Aviles owns a 14.2 strikeout rate (68 K%+) on the season, the right-hander's strikeout rate has dropped to 8.2 percent (39 K%+) since his return. That 14.2 percent mark marks a departure from Aviles' career strikeout rates, as the right-hander typically takes pitching to contact to new heights. That approach can get results, but it is hard to see Aviles' performance translating well up through the minors if he continues striking out 8.2 percent of batters coming out of relief.

Stats and performance can tell us more definitive things about Triple-A players than ones in Low-A, something that gives hope for right-hander Caleb Hamrick's future. Hamrick's -1.1 FIP-based WAR and -2.9 RA-based WAR in 90.0 innings is certainly unsightly, but it is still all about projection for the right-hander. As an eighth round pick in 2012 who found success in Mahoning Valley last year (3.20 ERA, 4.39 FIP in 76.0 innings), Hamrick is likely to get more chances going forward. It would be nicer if Hamrick did not own a 7.10 ERA (188 ERA-), a 5.12 FIP (135 FIP-), a 12.7 percent strikeout rate (61 K%+), and a 11.8 percent walk rate (141 BB%+), but those stats are not the only thing the right-hander will be judged on.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@gmail.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

Ryan
August 24, 2014 - 8:55 PM EDT
In looking at who is likely to be promoted next year, Columbus is going to be devoid of true "pitching prospects" next year except if Bauer and Salazar are sent down, but if that happens, that is a bad sign.

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