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The WAR Room: McAllister dominating in Columbus

Though he is not as good as his ERA, McAllister looks ready to pitch in Cleveland again

The WAR Room: McAllister dominating in Columbus
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
June 29, 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 pitchers throughout the system. Next week we will do the hitters. For the full stats, go ahead and click here. Stats are updated through Friday, June 28.

Columbus Clippers

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Kyle Davies Indians (AAA) 30 62.2 1.2 0.8
T.J. House Indians (AAA) 24 50.2 1.0 1.3
Travis Banwart Indians (AAA) 28 82.1 1.0 2.1
Trevor Bauer Indians (AAA) 23 46.0 0.7 2.1
Josh Tomlin Indians (AAA) 29 35.0 0.6 1.6
Zach McAllister Indians (AAA) 26 24.1 0.5 1.3
Gabriel Arias Indians (AAA) 24 25.2 0.4 -0.4
Brett Brach Indians (AAA) 26 6.2 0.2 -0.4
Tyler Cloyd Indians (AAA) 27 85.2 0.1 0.5
Danny Salazar Indians (AAA) 24 28.2 0.1 -0.2
Toru Murata Indians (AAA) 29 16.1 0.0 0.0
Duke von Schamann Indians (AAA) 23 9.2 -0.1 -0.1

 

Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Vinnie Pestano Indians (AAA) 29 25.1 0.8 0.7
Mark Lowe Indians (AAA) 31 21.2 0.5 -0.3
Mike Zagurski Indians (AAA)/O 31 30.2 0.4 0.5
Austin Adams Indians (AAA) 27 34.0 0.4 0.9
C.C. Lee Indians (AAA) 27 17.2 0.3 0.1
Kyle Crockett Indians (AAA) 22 8.2 0.2 0.0
Scott Barnes Indians (AAA) 26 31.2 0.1 0.3
Nick Hagadone Indians (AAA) 28 26.2 0.1 -0.1
Tyler Sturdevant Indians (AAA) 28 3.0 0.0 0.2
Elliot Johnson Indians (AAA) 30 0.2 0.0 0.0
Bryan Price Indians (AAA) 27 1.2 0.0 0.1
Frank Herrmann Indians (AAA) 30 23.1 0.0 0.1
Blake Wood Indians (AAA) 28 8.0 -0.1 0.1
J.C. Ramirez Indians (AAA) 25 10.0 -0.4 0.1
Benny Suarez Indians (AAA) 22 1.1 -0.4 -0.4

Zach McAllister (Photo: MiLB)Through 24.1 innings in Triple-A, right-hander Zach McAllister is putting up some impressive numbers, looking the part of a major-league caliber starter pitching in the International League, posting a 1.48 ERA (37 ERA-) and 1.3 RA-based WAR. That low ERA is probably not entirely sustainable, however, and McAllister's 3.38 FIP (85 FIP-) and 0.5 FIP-based WAR are likely a better indication of how he is pitching. A below-average .254 BABIP (84 BABIP+) and extremely high 94.3 percent strand rate (132 LOB%+) are holding down McAllister's ERA, but it is not like the right-hander is pitching terribly by FIP's standards. McAllister is throwing strikes (5.3 percent walk rate, 58 BB%+) and looks ready to rejoin the major league rotation in the near future.

Another Clippers right-hander performing well is Travis Banwart. Like McAllister, Banwart's 3.39 ERA (85 ERA-) is much lower than his 4.12 FIP (103 FIP-), leaving the right-hander with only 1.0 FIP-based WAR compared to his 2.1 RA-based WAR in 82.1 innings. Banwart is succeeding in Triple-A by staying perfectly average -- posting a 21.1 percent strikeout rate (107 K%+) to go with a 9.1 percent walk rate (100 BB%+) -- which is not a bad thing for a starter. A starting pitcher who can be average has plenty of value, and while above-average rates would translate better to the majors, Banwart could potentially fit at the back of a big league rotation right now.

Right-hander C.C. Lee's results in the major leagues have been substandard to date (4.60 ERA, 4.55 FIP in 15.2 innings), but his Triple-A results yield hope. With 0.3 FIP-based WAR and 0.1 RA-based WAR in 17.2 innings, Lee has the look of someone who can really help in the majors this season. Lee's 3.57 ERA (90 ERA-) does not jump out, but his 2.88 FIP (72 FIP-), 27.6 percent strikeout rate (140 K%+), and 7.9 percent walk rate (87 BB%+) all point to a pitcher throwing quite well. The right-hander may not have a major league bullpen spot locked down just yet, but Lee deserves another shot right now to make it happen.

Left-hander Scott Barnes, on the other hand, does not look ready to take another shot at the major leagues. Barnes started the season fairly well, but through 31.2 innings, the left-hander owns a near-replacement level 0.1 FIP-based WAR and 0.3 RA-based WAR. The left-hander struck out plenty of International League hitters (25.9 percent strikeout rate, 131 K%+), but an 11.9 percent walk rate (131 BB%+) essentially gives it all back. Barnes is still fairly intriguing, but his 3.69 ERA (93 ERA-) and 3.97 FIP (100 FIP-) are not encouraging for the 2014 season.

Akron RubberDucks

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Will Roberts Indians (AA) 23 89.1 1.7 1.2
Joseph Colon Indians (AA) 24 88.2 1.5 2.9
Gabriel Arias Indians (AA) 24 54.1 1.1 1.2
Duke von Schamann Indians (AA) 23 63.1 0.4 1.8
Toru Murata Indians (AA) 29 45.2 0.4 0.6
Shawn Morimando Indians (AA) 21 6.0 0.3 0.5
Matt Packer Indians (AA) 26 9.1 0.1 -0.3
Cody Anderson Indians (AA) 23 80.1 -0.2 0.4
Kyle Davies Indians (AA) 30 29.2 -0.2 0.1

 

Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Tyler Sturdevant Indians (AA) 28 31.0 0.6 1.3
Enosil Tejeda Indians (AA) 25 32.2 0.5 0.9
Kyle Crockett Indians (AA) 22 15.2 0.4 0.8
Shawn Armstrong Indians (AA) 23 31.1 0.4 1.1
Jordan Cooper Indians (AA) 25 38.2 0.3 0.2
Giovanni Soto Indians (AA) 23 22.2 0.2 -0.3
J.C. Ramirez Indians (AA) 25 8.2 0.2 0.4
Bryan Price Indians (AA) 27 10.0 0.1 0.3
Louis Head Indians (AA) 24 8.2 -0.1 -0.1
Adam Miller Indians (AA) 29 17.2 -0.2 -0.5
Francisco Valera Indians (AA) 24 12.2 -0.4 -0.3

Joseph Colon (Photo: MiLB)Nothing about right-hander Joseph Colon's peripherals jumped out this year, but the 24-year-old is still putting up some very impressive numbers in his first taste of Double-A. If Colon ends up being one of those pitchers able to pitch beyond their peripherals, his 2.9 RA-based WAR in 88.2 innings are a Cy Young-level pace. Even with his 1.5 FIP-based WAR, Colon is an above-average pitcher still learning the craft. With only 415.2 professional innings under his belt, Colon is showing an ability to perform even though he has a fairly low number of reps. Though Colon is pretty good right now, there is a chance he will get even better, provided he can finally stay on the mound and off the disabled list.

Right-hander Tyler Sturdevant got the call up to Columbus, which is not really a surprise given his age and ability. Sturdevant looked all the way back from the shoulder injury that cost him 2013, posting 0.6 FIP-based WAR and 1.3 RA-based WAR in 31.0 Double-A innings. Though a 0.29 HR/9 (38 HR/9+) and .234 BABIP (77 BABIP+) helped Sturdevant this season, his 25.6 percent strikeout rate (137 K%+) and 7.7 percent walk rate (92 BB%+) will translate nicely to Triple-A. The organization has a lot of right-hander relief depth, but if Sturdevant keeps pitching like this, the 28-year-old will get his chance in the major leagues.

Unlike Sturdevant, right-hander Enosil Tejeda is still in Akron. But like Sturdevant, Tejeda is pitching quite well in 2014, posting 0.5 FIP-based WAR and 0.9 RA-based WAR in 32.2 innings. Tejeda has never been the type of pitcher to blow hitters away, but his deception and ability to pitch garnered him more strikeouts and fewer walks than Sturdevant (28.1 percent strikeout rate, 150 K%+; 5.5 percent walk rate, 65 BB%+). The newly 25-year-old Tejeda is more than deserving of a shot in Triple-A and should get one once a few spots open up.

Right-hander Shawn Armstrong, however, could get the first shot over Tejeda. Armstrong has more raw stuff and is using it well this season, with 0.4 FIP-based WAR and 1.1 RA-based WAR in 31.1 innings. Unsurprisingly considering his great stuff, Armstrong owns an easily above-average 30.4 percent strikeout rate (162 K%+). The big development with Armstrong in 2014 is his roughly average walk rate (8.8 percent walk rate, 105 BB%+), which really plays up with those strikeouts. Armstrong is not pitching quite as well as his 2.01 ERA (49 ERA-) would suggest, but there is no denying the right-hander has really put things together in 2014.

Carolina Mudcats

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Ryan Merritt Indians (A+) 22 91.1 2.3 4.3
Cole Sulser Indians (A+) 24 75.1 1.2 -0.4
D.J. Brown Indians (A+) 23 67.2 1.1 0.8
Michael Peoples Indians (A+) 22 59.0 0.9 0.2
Shawn Morimando Indians (A+) 21 81.0 0.9 1.8
Adam Plutko Indians (A+) 22 32.0 0.4 0.7
Dylan Baker Indians (A+) 22 6.0 0.2 0.5

 

Name Team Age IP RP FIP WAR RP RA WAR
Louis Head Indians (A+) 24 20.1 0.6 0.7
Josh Martin Indians (A+) 24 35.2 0.3 0.2
Grant Sides Indians (A+) 25 29.0 0.3 0.8
Elvis Araujo Indians (A+) 22 27.0 0.3 -0.1
Benny Suarez Indians (A+) 22 31.1 0.1 0.4
Jacob Lee Indians (A+) 24 38.1 -0.1 0.2
Robert Nixon Indians (A+) 25 31.1 -0.1 -0.8
Clayton Cook Indians (A+) 23 17.0 -0.2 -0.5
Carlos Melo Indians (A+) 23 10.2 -0.3 -1.0

Shawn Morimando (Photo: MiLB)Largely thanks to a .217 BABIP (71 BABIP+), left-hander Shawn Morimando owns a very strong 3.00 ERA (74 ERA-) and 1.8 RA-based WAR in 81.0 High-A innings. Yet his FIP paints a different picture, as Morimando's 4.21 FIP (104 FIP-) and 0.9 FIP-based WAR have the left-hander as an average Carolina League pitcher this season. Morimando cut down on his walks in 2014, but his 9.1 percent rate remains slightly worse than average (106 BB%+). That walk rate combined with Morimando's below-average 17.5 percent strikeout rate (88 K%+) leave the left-hander very dependent on his low BABIP. The 21-year-old Morimando still has upside, but as of right now, he is not performing as well as his ERA indicates.

Right-hander Adam Plutko owns an identical 4.21 FIP (104 FIP-) as Morimando en route to a 0.4 FIP-based WAR and 0.7 RA-based WAR in his first 32.0 High-A innings. Plutko's roughly average FIP is due to giving up a ton of home runs, as the right-hander's 1.13 HR/9 (189 HR/9+) is really dragging his stats down. But home run rates typically regress toward average, actually leaving Plutko in pretty good shape. The 22-year-old owns a solid 21.3 percent strikeout rate (108 K%+) and rock bottom 5.5 percent walk rate (64 BB%+), which will really play up one his home run rate goes back to normal.

The real poster boy for the ERA versus FIP debate among Mudcats pitchers is right-hander Cole Sulser, who is either an above-average pitcher if you believe his 3.85 FIP (95 FIP-) and 1.2 FIP-based WAR or below replacement level if you believe his 5.14 ERA (128 ERA-) and -0.4 RA-based WAR in 75.1 innings. Given Sulser's .335 BABIP (110 BABIP+), 0.96 HR/9 (160 HR/9+), and 52.8 percent strand rate (77 LOB%+) -- all stats that tend to regress toward the mean -- it is likely Sulser's true abilities lie closer to his FIP than ERA. But until Sulser's ERA starts to drop, it will be hard to see the 24-year-old getting called up to Akron.

In a similar vein, right-hander Michael Peoples is also much better when judged by FIP (0.9 FIP-based WAR in 59.0 innings) rather than his ERA (0.2 RA-based WAR). Unlike Sulser, Peoples' 0.61 HR/9 (102 HR/9+) and 64.9 percent strand rate (95 LOB%+) are largely solid, though his .363 BABIP (119 BABIP+) is causing some problems. Outside of the BABIP, Peoples' peripherals look solid -- with his 22.0 percent strikeout rate (111 K%+) and 9.0 percent walk rate (104 BB%+) -- and the right-hander is pitching at an above-average level in 2014, assuming his FIP is to be trusted over his ERA.

Lake County Captains

Name Team Age IP SP FIP WAR SP RA WAR
Adam Plutko Indians (A) 22 52.2 1.9 0.8
Robbie Aviles Indians (A) 22 66.2 1.4 2.2
Luis Lugo Indians (A) 20 67.0 1.3 0.4
Dace Kime Indians (A) 22 74.1 0.9 0.0
Jordan Milbrath Indians (A) 22 66.1 0.7 1.0
Mitch Brown Indians (A) 20 76.1 0.7 1.3
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 30.2 0.5 0.5
Ben Heller Indians (A) 22 32.2 0.4 0.8
Kenny Mathews Indians (A) 20 17.2 0.2 0.4
Matthew Whitehouse Indians (A) 23 32.2 0.1 -1.0
Anderson Polanco Indians (A) 21 6.2 0.1 0.4
Justin Brantley Indians (A) 23 7.2 0.0 0.3
Brian Ruiz Indians (A) 21 1.0 0.0 0.0
Cody Ferrell Indians (A) 24 0.2 0.0 -0.1
Luis Dejesus Indians (A) 22 1.2 -0.1 -0.3
Carlos Melo Indians (A) 23 2.1 -0.1 -0.4
Kerry Doane Indians (A) 23 16.1 -0.2 -0.4
Caleb Hamrick Indians (A) 20 51.1 -0.2 -1.1
Alexis Paredes Indians (A) 22 41.0 -0.3 0.1
Wander Beras Indians (A) 25 34.0 -0.4 -0.7

Jordan Milbrath (Photo: MiLB)In his first full professional season, right-hander Jordan Milbrath is putting together a solid season, posting 0.7 FIP-based WAR and 1.0 RA-based WAR in 66.1 innings. Of course, Milbrath still has work to do, as his 16.0 percent strikeout rate (79 K%+) and 11.3 percent walk rate (129 BB%+) are both not very good. Milbrath benefits from his 0.27 HR/9 (48 HR/9+), which is what is keeping his 4.13 FIP (105 FIP-) around average given his below-average strikeout and walk rates. But the larger picture for Milbrath is still just getting work in, since coming from a cold-weather state is leaving the right-hander with some catching up to do from an experience standpoint. The results are not great, but it is setting him up to make a surge in 2015.

Like Milbrath, right-hander Mitch Brown is also benefitting from a low 0.35 HR/9 (62 HR/9+) in 2014. Brown's 0.7 FIP-based WAR and 1.3 RA-based WAR in 76.1 innings paint a better picture of the right-hander's season than his peripherals, as his 18.8 percent strikeout rate (93 K%+) and 12.6 percent walk rate (143 BB%+) still needs improvement. But after last season's struggles, even seeing Brown pitching around an average level in Lake County is progress, and given the right-hander is only 20 years old, there is still plenty of time for him to continue getting better in the months and years ahead.

Ben Heller and his 41.5 percent strikeout rate (206 K%+) may be stealing the headlines in the Lake County bullpen, but right-hander Trevor Frank actually owns the team's best FIP-based WAR among relievers. With a 0.5 mark to go with his 0.5 RA-based WAR in 30.2 innings, Frank looks ready for the challenge of High-A in the near future. Frank, who was last year's eighth round pick, does not strike hitters out like Heller, only posting a 24.0 percent strikeout rate (119 K%+). But the right-hander augments that still strong strikeout rate with a 3.3 percent walk rate (38 BB%+), the second-lowest on the team (only Robbie Aviles' is lower). Heller may be the headliner right now, but both he and Frank deserve a shot in Carolina.

Right-hander Alexis Paredes is getting some decent time out of the Lake County bullpen, but the 22-year-old's results have not impressed to date. Paredes has -0.3 FIP-based WAR and 0.1 RA-based WAR in 41.0 innings, a close to replacement level performance that could have him on the hot seat. There is some hope for Paredes, as his 0.88 HR/9 (155 HR/9+) is well above the league average and should fall as the season goes along. But in order to find real success, Paredes will need to strike more batters out (15.1 percent strikeout rate, 75 K%+) along with walking fewer hitters (8.9 percent walk rate, 101 BB%+).

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

User Comments

Roger
June 29, 2014 - 1:43 PM EDT
i could swear i saw zac mac in the dugout in seattle last night. i maybe wrong but it sure looked like him. seems frivolous to send him to seattle when he is on the dl. was it mistaken identity and i just saw klubs and had a senior moment? zac mac should have been here in toledo.

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