STARTERS: Expected Ctl, Dom surgers and faders

When forecasting future changes in SP performance, one effective forward-looking method is to compare strikeout and walk levels with command sub-indicators like swinging strike rate and ball percentage.

Our 2013 research on swinging strike rates (SwK%) showed that SwK% has a strong link with dominance rate (K/9).

We can extrapolate a SP's expected Dom by looking at the correlation between SwK% level and Dom:

  • xDom Ranges by SwK% Level
    
                ------xDom by Percentile----
    SwK% Range  10th  25th  50th  75th  90th
    ==========  ====  ====  ====  ====  ====
    >12.0%       8.7   9.1   9.6  10.2  10.6
    11.5-11.9%   8.2   8.5   9.4   9.9  10.2
    11.0-11.4%   6.5   7.3   8.2   9.2   9.5
    10.5-10.9%   7.2   7.7   8.0   8.6   9.0
    10.0-10.4%   6.8   7.1   8.3   8.9   9.0
    9.5-9.9%     6.6   7.4   7.6   8.2   8.6
    9.0-9.4%     6.2   7.2   7.7   8.3   8.6
    8.5-8.9%     6.0   6.4   7.0   7.5   7.9
    8.0-8.4%     5.7   6.1   6.9   7.5   8.1
    7.5-7.9%     5.4   5.8   6.2   6.7   7.3
    7.0-7.4%     4.3   5.5   5.8   6.9   7.1
    6.5-6.9%     4.9   5.3   5.7   6.3   6.9
    6.0-6.4%     4.4   5.0   5.3   5.9   6.1
    <6.0%        3.4   3.8   4.4   5.4   5.9

Using the above table to generate xDom, the following SP are producing strikeouts that are significantly different than what their SwK% suggests they should be generating:

  • Dom vs xDom*
    
    Name                 League  SwK%   Dom   xDom  Diff
    ===================  ======  =====  ====  ====  ====
    Blair, Aaron             NL   9.0%   5.2   7.7  -2.6
    Buchholz, Clay           AL   9.1%   5.8   7.7  -1.9
    Dickey, R.A.             AL  10.4%   6.5   8.3  -1.8
    Manaea, Sean             AL  11.6%   7.7   9.4  -1.7
    Pelfrey, Mike            AL   6.5%   4.1   5.7  -1.7
    Andriese, Matt           AL  10.5%   6.4   8.0  -1.6
    Weaver, Jered            AL   7.7%   4.7   6.2  -1.5
    Perez, Martin            AL   7.1%   4.3   5.8  -1.5
    de la Rosa, Jorge        NL  10.3%   6.9   8.3  -1.4
    Lewis, Colby             AL   8.2%   5.6   6.9  -1.3
    Locke, Jeff              NL   7.9%   4.9   6.2  -1.3
    Carrasco, Carlos         AL  11.6%   8.2   9.4  -1.2
    Perdomo, Luis            NL  10.1%   7.1   8.3  -1.2
    Gibson, Kyle             AL   9.6%   6.5   7.6  -1.1
    Samardzija, Jeff         NL   9.1%   6.7   7.7  -1.1
    Verrett, Logan           NL   8.1%   5.9   6.9  -1.0
    Shoemaker, Matt          AL  13.5%   8.6   9.6  -1.0
    Milone, Tommy            AL   8.1%   5.9   6.9  -1.0
    ----------------------------------------------------
    Fernandez, Jose          NL  14.9%  13.1   9.6  +3.5
    Ray, Robbie              NL  11.2%  11.3   8.2  +3.1
    Hill, Rich               AL  10.8%  10.7   8.0  +2.7
    Strasburg, Stephen       NL  11.2%  10.8   8.2  +2.6
    Bradley, Archie          NL   7.4%   8.4   5.8  +2.6
    Urias, Julio             NL  10.4%  10.7   8.3  +2.4
    Wood, Alex               NL   9.8%   9.9   7.6  +2.3
    Nola, Aaron              NL   9.6%   9.8   7.6  +2.2
    Nicasio, Juan            NL   8.0%   9.1   6.9  +2.2
    McCullers, Lance         AL  13.0%  11.8   9.6  +2.2
    Salazar, Danny           AL  11.0%  10.2   8.2  +2.0
    Pomeranz, Drew           AL  11.1%  10.0   8.2  +1.8
    Velasquez, Vincent       NL  11.1%  10.0   8.2  +1.8
    Quintana, Jose           AL   7.8%   8.0   6.2  +1.8
    Scherzer, Max            NL  15.2%  11.4   9.6  +1.8
    Porcello, Rick           AL   7.4%   7.5   5.8  +1.7
    Boyd, Matt               AL   8.0%   8.4   6.9  +1.5
    Cashner, Andrew          NL   7.3%   7.3   5.8  +1.5
    Colon, Bartolo           NL   5.2%   5.9   4.4  +1.5
    Rea, Colin               NL   6.5%   7.1   5.7  +1.4
    Arrieta, Jake            NL  10.7%   9.3   8.0  +1.3
    Syndergaard, Noah        NL  14.7%  10.9   9.6  +1.3
    Kazmir, Scott            NL  10.3%   9.6   8.3  +1.3
    Rodon, Carlos            AL   9.4%   9.0   7.7  +1.3
    Smyly, Drew              AL  10.8%   9.3   8.0  +1.3
    Norris, Bud              NL   9.5%   8.8   7.6  +1.2
    Gallardo, Yovani         AL   6.3%   6.5   5.3  +1.2
    Jimenez, Ubaldo          AL   8.0%   8.1   6.9  +1.2
    Wright, Mike             AL   6.2%   6.5   5.3  +1.2
    Kershaw, Clayton         NL  16.1%  10.8   9.6  +1.2
    Snell, Blake             AL   9.3%   8.9   7.7  +1.2
    Pineda, Michael          AL  14.5%  10.8   9.6  +1.2
    Liriano, Francisco       NL  10.9%   9.2   8.0  +1.2
    Sanchez, Anibal          AL   8.9%   8.2   7.0  +1.2
    Nelson, Jimmy            NL   7.0%   6.8   5.8  +1.0
    Kennedy, Ian             AL  10.2%   9.3   8.3  +1.0
    Karns, Nate              AL  10.3%   9.3   8.3  +1.0
    Davies, Zach             NL   7.9%   7.2   6.2  +1.0
    Young, Chris             AL  10.1%   9.3   8.3  +1.0
    Conley, Adam             NL   9.8%   8.6   7.6  +1.0
    *min 40 IP

In addition, our recent research on the ball and strike rates of starting pitchers tells us that there is a strong link between ball% and Ctl (BB/9).

The historical correlation between those two indicators is as follows:

  • xCtl Ranges by Ball% Level
    
           -----xCtl by Percentile-----
    Ball%  10th  25th  50th  75th  90th
    =====  ====  ====  ====  ====  ====
    <30%    0.8   0.8   1.1   1.3   1.4
    31%     1.3   1.4   1.5   2.0   2.1
    32%     1.2   1.5   1.7   2.0   2.3
    33%     1.5   1.6   1.9   2.2   2.5
    34%     1.7   2.0   2.3   2.6   2.9
    35%     1.8   2.1   2.3   2.6   2.9
    36%     2.0   2.3   2.7   3.1   3.4
    37%     2.3   2.7   3.0   3.3   3.7
    38%     2.6   2.8   3.2   3.6   4.1
    39%     2.9   3.2   3.5   4.0   4.5
    40%     3.1   3.5   3.9   4.5   4.9
    41%     3.5   3.9   4.6   5.1   5.5
    >42%    4.2   4.7   5.1   5.6   6.6

The following guys are walking batters at a significantly different level than their ball% suggests:

  • Ctl vs xCtl*
    
    Name                 League  Ball%  Ctl  xCtl  Diff
    ===================  ======  =====  ===  ====  ====
    McCullers, Lance         AL    37%  5.0   3.0  +2.0
    Jimenez, Ubaldo          AL    39%  5.4   3.5  +1.9
    Mengden, Daniel          AL    37%  4.8   3.0  +1.8
    Verrett, Logan           NL    37%  4.5   3.0  +1.5
    Miller, Shelby           NL    37%  4.4   3.0  +1.4
    Nicasio, Juan            NL    35%  3.6   2.3  +1.3
    Blair, Aaron             NL    40%  5.2   3.9  +1.3
    Santiago, Hector         AL    37%  4.2   3.0  +1.2
    Young, Chris             AL    38%  4.3   3.2  +1.1
    Sanchez, Anibal          AL    38%  4.3   3.2  +1.1
    Friedrich, Christian     NL    38%  4.2   3.2  +1.0
    Bradley, Archie          NL    39%  4.5   3.5  +1.0
    Karns, Nate              AL    38%  4.2   3.2  +1.0
    Lamb, John               NL    37%  4.0   3.0  +1.0
    Nelson, Jimmy            NL    38%  4.2   3.2  +1.0
    ---------------------------------------------------
    DeSclafani, Anthony      NL    37%  1.9   3.0  -1.1
    Fiers, Mike              AL    37%  2.0   3.0  -1.0
    Taillon, Jameson         NL    33%  1.0   1.9  -0.9
    Peralta, Wily            NL    41%  3.7   4.6  -0.9
    Santana, Ervin           AL    38%  2.3   3.2  -0.9
    Quintana, Jose           AL    37%  2.1   3.0  -0.9
    Kershaw, Clayton         NL    31%  0.7   1.5  -0.8
    Wainwright, Adam         NL    37%  2.2   3.0  -0.8
    Porcello, Rick           AL    34%  1.6   2.3  -0.7
    Hellickson, Jeremy       NL    36%  2.0   2.7  -0.7
    Nolasco, Ricky           AL    36%  2.0   2.7  -0.7
    Leake, Mike              NL    33%  1.2   1.9  -0.7
    Wilson, Tyler            AL    37%  2.3   3.0  -0.7
    Tomlin, Josh             AL    32%  1.0   1.7  -0.7
    Eickhoff, Jerad          NL    36%  2.1   2.7  -0.6
    Lewis, Colby             AL    34%  1.7   2.3  -0.6
    Graveman, Kendall        AL    38%  2.7   3.2  -0.5
    Cueto, Johnny            NL    34%  1.8   2.3  -0.5
    Bettis, Chad             NL    37%  2.5   3.0  -0.5
    Eflin, Zach              NL    36%  2.2   2.7  -0.5
    *min 40 IP
    
    

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Matt Andriese (RHP, TAM) has managed only a 6.4 Dom after nine starts with TAM. It's a level that has kept him on the waiver wire in many leagues. However, his 10.5% SwK% is one of the fifty-highest swinging strike rates in MLB, and it profiles him as someone who should have a near-8.0 Dom. In fact, he has three different pitches that he's getting a 10%+ SwK% on (changeup, slider, cutter). Andriese also has posted a 16/1 K/BB in his last 17 IP in a swingman role. He's a good end-rotation add for the stretch run.

Carlos Carrasco (RHP, CLE) has struggled quite a bit during the last month, both on the surface (4.85 ERA) and beneath it (47 BPV). That said, his swinging strike rate has remained unchanged, and his current 11.6% SwK% is among the top-20 best in MLB. It's a level that suggests his 8.2 Dom should be at a 9.0+ Dom. Carrasco remains a good hold.

Kyle Gibson (RHP, MIN) owns an ugly 5.16 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over the last month, but those marks are hiding some really good skills during the same period: 7.3 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 51% GB%, 110 BPV. And his 9.6% SwK% for the season gives hope that his YTD 6.5 Dom will continue to head north if he can stay healthy.

Sean Manaea (LHP, OAK) has looked like a budding upper-tier SP over the past month (30/3 K/BB in 32 IP, 2.51 ERA, 1.02 WHIP). In addition, his 11.6% SwK% for the season is higher than that of guys like Bumgarner and Strasburg, confirming that he has legit strikeout stuff. Manaea carries some significant upside down the stretch and in keeper leagues.

Daniel Mengden (RHP, OAK) is likely to be recalled in the second half. He's someone who should be avoided in most leagues given the rough stats (5.73 ERA, 1.60 WHIP) and skills (52 BPV) he posted earlier this season with OAK. That said, most of those struggles were due to a shaky 4.8 Ctl, and his 37% ball% suggests he should've had closer to a 3.0 Ctl. Given his strong 44/11 K/BB in 50 IP at Triple-A, he's likely to be better during his second extended stint with OAK.

Anibal Sanchez (RHP, DET) seemingly is far away from turning things around (5.32 ERA, 1.73 WHIP during last month). But his underlying skills over that period have been very good: 9.4 Dom, 2.9 Ctl, 36% GB%, 106 BPV. So have his 12% SwK% and 71% FpK%. And his YTD 4.3 Ctl has some improvement potential given that his 38% ball% suggests some improvement there.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Zack Godley (RHP, ARI) is another under-the-radar SP worth targeting in some deep leagues. Check out his strong skill base during his last four starts: 8.3 Dom, 2.4 Ctl, 52% GB%, 116 BPV. He has been especially effective against RH bats (4.3 Cmd). And his excellent YTD 13% SwK% gives his current 7.3 Dom plenty of upside. Blame a 37% H%, 61% S%, and 14% hr/f during the last month for his continued poor surface stats.

Jon Gray (RHP, COL) is a high-ceiling young SP who is blossoming into an impact SP. He has posted a 100+ BPV in both the 1H and 2H of '16, and his surface stats since July 1 have been some of the best in the game (1.11 ERA, 0.96 WHIP). In addition, his current 2.9 Ctl has some nice improvement potential given his solid 35% ball%.

Luis Perdomo (RHP, SD) has shown very good swing-and-miss ability (10.1% SwK%), a mark that gives his 7.1 Dom significant upside potential. He has been victimized by a 42% H% against RH bats. Perdomo also has been saddled with a subpar 65% S% and inflated 19% hr/f. There's still some end-rotation value here in very deep leagues.

Dan Straily (RHP, CIN) is carrying surface stats (3.80 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) that are much better than his skills suggest they should be (42 BPV, 4.68 xERA). However, his 2.7 xCtl is much better than his actual 3.5 Ctl, and his 9.2% SwK% profiles him as a 7.5+ Dom guy. To use him wisely, it's best to sit him against lefty-strong lineups (1.2 Cmd vs. LH, 4.1 Cmd vs. RHers).

Logan Verrett (RHP, NYM) owns a poor 1.5 Cmd with NYM in a swingman role. But the components behind that mark give hope for improvement, as his 37% ball% profiles him as a near-3.0 Ctl guy, and his 8.1% SwK% suggests that his 5.9 Dom should be significantly higher. Verrett's skills would have even more room for improvement if he could solve his woes against RH bats (1.0 Cmd in '16, 3.7 Cmd in '15).


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.