Apr 2, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tony Cingrani (52) pitches during the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Baseball: What can we expect from the sophomore stud pitchers?

michael wacha

Apr 2, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha (52) pitches during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Lost in all of the hoopla that comes with Opening Day has been the pitching matchups in the National League Central.  While Jeff Samardzija, Francisco Liriano, Edwin Jackson and Charlie Morton have all been impressive, let’s focus on the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds and their fantasy baseball prospects.

On Opening Day, fans were treated to Adam Wainwright against (a healthy) Johnny Cueto.  Wainwright was dominant, of course, and even made Billy Hamilton a victim of the Golden Sombrero (four strikeouts).  Cueto looked healthy, and when he is, he’s one of the most underrated real-life pitchers in baseball.

Those were the present aces of the respective ball clubs showing what they had to offer on Monday, but on Wednesday, it was the future that was on display.  If that game is any indication of the next 10 years, watching Michael Wacha and Tony Cingrani go head-to-head is going to be quite a treat.

Wacha allowed three hits in 6.2 innings, allowing just one walk while striking out seven Reds.  Cingrani, on the other hand, allowed just two hits over seven innings, while walking two and striking out nine red birds.  The future looks great, and we have no reason to believe that either of these two pitchers will fall off, but as a whole, what can we expect from this star-studded sophomore class?

More than any other year in recent memory, this year’s sophomore pitchers have had more hype around them than I can remember.  You have Wacha, Cingrani, Shelby Miller, Gerrit Cole, Julio Teheran, Sonny Gray, Danny Salazar, Alex Wood and Zack Wheeler, who are all expected to take the next step forward from a No. 2 or No. 3 pitcher, to an elite-level ace.  I’d include Jose Fernandez in here, but let’s face it, he’s already considered an ace by most people in the industry.

But can we trust this group that we rely on so much?  While this group may have the most allure we’ve seen in recent years, we’ve seen our share of rookies succeed in their first year, only to vanish in the next year or two.

Al Melchior of CBSSports.com listed some players for a comparison (100 innings, sub-4.00 ERA), but he never took an inside look at the numbers.  Let’s look at the progression or regression that the players took, and does it tell us anything about this group of sophomores?

2011 rookies —

  • Jeremy Hellickson: (2011) 189 IP, 2.95 ERA, 1.153 WHIP, 1.63 SO/BB ratio (2012) 177 IP, 3.10 ERA, 1.254 WHIP, 2.10 SO/BB ratio (2013) 174 IP, 5.17 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 2.70 SO/BB ratio.
  • Michael Pineda: (2011) 171 IP, 3.74 ERA, 1.099 WHIP, 3.15 SO/BB ratio. Out past two years with injuries.
  • Alexi Ogando: (2011) 169 IP, 3.51 ERA, 1.136 WHIP, 2.93 SO/BB ratio (2012) 66 IP, 3.27 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3.88 SO/BB ratio (2013) 104.1 IP, 3.11 ERA, 1.227 WHIP, 1.76 SO/BB ratio
  • Ivan Nova: (2011) 165.1 IP, 3.70 ERA, 1.331 WHIP, 1.72 SO/BB ratio (2012) 170.1 IP, 5.02 ERA, 1.468 WHIP, 2.73 SO/BB ratio (2013) 139.1 IP, 3.10 ERA, 1.285 WHIP, 2.64 SO/BB ratio
  • Josh Collmenter: (2011) 154.1 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.069 WHIP, 3.57 SO/BB ratio (2012) 90.1 IP, 3.69 ERA, 1.262 WHIP, 3.64 SO/BB ratio (2013) 92 IP, 3.13 ERA, 1.217 WHIP, 2.58 SO/BB ratio
  • Brandon Beachy: (2011) 141.2 IP, 3.68 ERA, 1.207 WHIP, 3.67 SO/BB ratio, (2012) 81 IP, 2.00 ERA, 0.963 WHIP, 2.34 SO/BB ratio (2013) 30 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1.033 WHIP, 5.75 SO/BB ratio
  • Cory Luebke: (2011) 139.2 IP, 3.29 ERA, 1.067 WHIP, 3.50 SO/BB ratio (2012) 31 IP, 2.61 ERA, 1.161 WHIP, 2.88 SO/BB ratio (2013) did not pitch
  • Vance Worley: (2011) 131.2 IP, 3.01 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 2.59 SO/BB ratio (2012) 133 IP, 4.20 ERA, 1.511 WHIP, 2.28 SO/BB ratio (2013) 48.2 IP,  7.21 ERA, 1.993 WHIP, 1.67 SO/BB ratio
  • Guillermo Moscoso: (2011) 128 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.094 WHIP, 1.95 SO/BB ratio (2012) 50 IP, 6.12 ERA, 1.720 WHIP, 2.47 SO/BB ratio (2013) 30 IP, 5.10 ERA, 1.367 WHIP, 1.48 SO/BB ratio

2012 rookies —

  • Yu Darvish: (2012) 191.1 IP, 3.90 ERA, 1.280 WHIP, 2.48 SO/BB ratio (2013) 209.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, 1.073 WHIP, 3.46 SO/BB ratio
  • Hisashi Iwakuma: (2012) 125.1 IP, 3.16 ERA, 1.277 WHIP, 2.35 SO/BB ratio (2013) 219.2 IP, 2.66 ERA, 1.006 WHIP, 4.40 SO/BB ratio
  • Jarrod Parker: (2012) 181.1 IP, 3.47 ERA, 1.263 WHIP, 2.22 SO/BB ratio (2013) 197 IP, 3.97 ERA, 1.223 WHIP, 6.1 SO/BB ratio
  • Matt Moore: (2012) 177.1 IP, 3.81 ERA, 1.348 WHIP, 2.16 SO/BB ratio (2013) 150.1 IP, 3.29 ERA, 1.297 WHIP, 1.88 SO/BB ratio
  • Lance Lynn: (2012) 176 IP, 3.78 ERA, 1.318 WHIP, 2.81 SO/BB ratio (2013) 201.2 IP, 3.97 ERA, 1.314 WHIP, 2.61 SO/BB ratio
  • Wade Miley: (2012) 194.2 IP, 3.33 ERA, 1.182 WHIP, 3.89 SO/BB ratio (2013) 202.2 IP, 3.55 ERA, 1.317 WHIP, 2.23 SO/BB ratio
  • Lucas Harrell: (2012) 193.2 IP, 3.76 ERA, 1.358 WHIP, 1.79 SO/BB ratio (2013) 153.2 IP, 5.86 ERA, 1.705 WHIP, 1.01 SO/BB ratio
  • Tommy Milone: (2012) 190 IP, 3.74 ERA, 1.279 WHIP, 3.81 SO/BB ratio (2013) 156.1 IP, 4.14 ERA, 1.273 WHIP, 3.23 SO/BB ratio
  • Scott Diamond: (2012) 173 IP, 3.54 ERA, 1.243 WHIP, 2.90 SO/BB ratio (2013) 131 IP, 5.43 ERA, 1.519 WHIP, 1.44 SO/BB ratio
  • Jose Quintana: (2012) 136.1 IP, 3.76 ERA, 1.350 WHIP, 1.93 SO/BB ratio (2o13) 200 IP, 3.51 ERA, 1.220 WHIP, 2.93 SO/BB ratio
  • Mike Fiers: (2012) 127.2 IP, 3.74 ERA, 1.261 WHIP, 3.75 SO/BB ratio (2013) 22.1 IP, 7.25 ERA, 1.522 WHIP, 2.50 SO/BB ratio
  • Joe Kelly: (2012) 107 IP, 3.53 ERA, 1.383 WHIP, 2.08 SO/BB ratio (2013) 124.0 IP, 2.69 ERA, 1.355 WHIP, 1.80 SO/BB ratio
  • Miguel Gonzalez: (2012) 105.1 IP, 3.25 ERA, 1.206 WHIP, 2.20 SO/BB ratio (2013) 171.1 IP, 3.78 ERA, 1.226 WHIP, 2.26 SO/BB ratio

2013 rookies —

  • Michael Wacha: (2013) 64.2 IP, 2.78 ERA, 1.098 SO/BB ratio
  • Tony Cingrani: (2013) 104.2 IP, 2.92, 1.099 WHIP, 2.79 SO/BB ratio
  • Shelby Miller: (2013) 173.1 IP, 3.06 ERA, 1.206 WHIP, 2.96 SO/BB ratio
  • Gerrit Cole: (2013) 117.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.168 WHIP, 3.57 SO/BB ratio
  • Julio Teheran: (2013) 185.2 IP, 3.20 ERA, 1.174 WHIP, 3.78 SO/BB
  • Sonny Gray: (2013) 64 IP, 2.67 ERA, 1.109 WHIP, 3.35 SO/BB ratio
  • Danny Salazar: (2013) 52 IP, 3.12 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, 4.33 SO/BB ratio
  • Alex Wood: (2013) 77.2 IP, 3.13 ERA, 1.326 WHIP, 2.85 SO/BB ratio
  • Zack Wheeler: (2013) 100 IP, 3.42 ERA, 1.360 WHIP, 1.83 SO/BB ratio

Looking at the class of 2011, it’s obvious that injuries took its toll on them, along with others not living up to their expectations.  In 2012, you have those who stand out (Darvish, Iwakuma, Moore), but those who probably don’t belong in the same discussion.  They do, however, meet the criteria.

Only eight of the pitchers improved their ERA from their first year to their second year (including Beachy and Luebke, who pitched minimal innings).  The increase or decrease of innings doesn’t mean much, as you could have a pitcher have a three-pitch inning or a 30-pitch inning.  The number is arbitrary.

As for WHIP, an astonishing 12 of the pitchers had a lower WHIP in their second year as opposed to their rookie campaign.  The SO/BB ratios varied, as 10 pitchers had an increased ratio from one year to the next.

It’s hard to predict what this class of sophomores will do, especially when some of their predecessors didn’t have the same pedigree as they did.

What it does tell us, however, is that we can’t always put too much stock into one year’s work.  Injuries will happen, as will regression.  While you may have been in the middle of that round seven to round eight run that saw these pitchers go off the board hoping to cash in on that high-upside breakout potential, realize that instead of ending up with the next Yu Darvish, you may have been the one that selected the next Josh Collmenter.


Tags: Cincinnati Reds Fantasy Baseball Michael Wacha St. Louis Cardinals Tony Cingrani

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