clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The fifth starters of the American League

New, 4 comments

Fifth starters generally don’t make or break a team, but several teams have an advantage at the back of their rotation. A look at the American League fifth starter projections.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

It's the doldrums of winter and although depth charts are not solidified, we have a general idea of what starters are penciled into the fifth starter spot. Fifth starters can be differentiators, though most of the time, they end up changing roles, being demoted, or splitting time with younger, higher-ceiling pitchers.

Taking a look at the 2016 American League fifth starters, there's some good, some bad, and some ugly. Last season, these players averaged 88 innings pitched and in total, the fifteen pitchers amassed 13.3 FanGraphs WAR. Keep in mind that "fifth starter" isn't really a job, so if you think one of these guys is the team's "fourth starter," you might be right.

Name 2015 Team G GS IP H ER HR SO BB WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP WAR
Mike Wright Orioles 12 9 44.2 52 30 9 26 18 1.57 5.24 3.63 1.81 .295 72.1 % 13.6 % 6.04 6.13 5.7 -0.3
Erik Johnson White Sox 6 6 35 32 13 8 30 17 1.4 7.71 4.37 2.06 .253 92.8 % 15.1 % 3.34 5.93 5.2 -0.1
Matt Moore Rays 12 12 63 74 38 9 46 23 1.54 6.57 3.29 1.29 .332 69.0 % 11.4 % 5.43 4.82 4.81 0.3
Daniel Norris Blue Jays / Tigers 13 13 60 53 25 9 45 19 1.2 6.75 2.85 1.35 .25 70.0 % 11.4 % 3.75 4.63 4.63 0.5
James Paxton Mariners 13 13 67 67 29 8 56 29 1.43 7.52 3.9 1.07 .289 73.1 % 11.1 % 3.9 4.31 4.35 0.5
Luis Severino Yankees 11 11 62.1 53 20 9 56 22 1.2 8.09 3.18 1.3 .265 87.0 % 17.3 % 2.89 4.37 3.72 0.7
Matt Shoemaker Angels 25 24 135.1 135 67 24 116 35 1.26 7.71 2.33 1.6 .285 74.1 % 14.0 % 4.46 4.59 4.16 0.7
Cody Anderson Indians 15 15 91.1 77 31 9 44 24 1.11 4.34 2.36 0.89 .237 78.3 % 9.2 % 3.05 4.27 4.58 1
Scott Feldman Astros 18 18 108.1 115 47 13 61 27 1.31 5.07 2.24 1.08 .291 75.1 % 13.3 % 3.9 4.32 4.09 1
Rich Hill Red Sox 4 4 29 14 5 2 36 5 0.66 11.17 1.55 0.62 .197 87.9 % 9.1 % 1.55 2.27 2.5 1.1
Danny Duffy Royals 30 24 136.2 137 62 15 102 53 1.39 6.72 3.49 0.99 .298 75.8 % 9.9 % 4.08 4.43 4.64 1.2
Joe Kelly Red Sox 25 25 134.1 145 72 15 110 49 1.44 7.37 3.28 1 .32 69.3 % 12.2 % 4.82 4.18 4.08 1.2
Tommy Milone Twins 24 23 128.2 128 56 17 91 36 1.27 6.37 2.52 1.19 .279 71.5 % 11.9 % 3.92 4.3 4.22 1.5
Martin Perez Rangers 14 14 78.2 88 39 3 48 24 1.42 5.49 2.75 0.34 .324 62.8 % 5.2 % 4.46 3.4 3.99 1.7
Jesse Chavez Athletics 30 26 157 164 73 18 136 48 1.35 7.8 2.75 1.03 .312 72.0 % 11.0 % 4.18 3.85 3.89 2.3

Last year, the best of the 2016 projected fifth starters was Jesse Chavez, who put up 2.3 WAR in 157 innings. At age 31, Chavez put up his most productive season ever and threw the most innings of any season in his career.

The worst pitcher on our list last year was Mike Wright, who is penciled into the fifth starter spot for Baltimore. In 44 innings, he cost the Orioles 0.3 WAR (a -0.3 fWAR). Wright had a tough introduction in his 2015 rookie season and he is projected for only about 45 innings going into this season as well.

Matt Shoemaker led the starters in giving up the longball allowing 24 home runs in 135 innings but still managed a 0.9 fWAR. Rich Hill is an interesting case, as he is the Athletics fifth starter and will earn $6 million this season despite only making four starts and throwing 29 innings (for a bit more reading on Hill, I chronicled the A's contract Rich HIll in November).

The 2016 Steamer projections expect a slight increase in performance from these pitchers and an additional 300 innings pitched.

Name Team IP ERA GS G H ER HR SO BB WHIP K/9 BB/9 FIP WAR RA9-WAR
Mike Wright Orioles 45 4.73 8 8 47 23 7 31 15 1.4 6.23 3.02 4.98 0.2 0.3
Scott Feldman Astros 48 4.55 8 8 52 24 6 30 14 1.37 5.7 2.59 4.49 0.4 0.3
Cody Anderson Indians 75 4.43 13 13 81 37 10 46 23 1.38 5.55 2.74 4.66 0.4 0.5
James Paxton Mariners 72 4.11 13 13 71 33 7 57 27 1.36 7.09 3.41 4.09 0.8 0.6
Erik Johnson White Sox 119 4.71 21 21 121 62 19 97 51 1.44 7.33 3.82 4.9 0.5 0.7
Joe Kelly Red Sox 81 3.73 6 51 79 34 8 70 27 1.3 7.7 2.95 3.75 0.7 0.9
Matt Shoemaker Angels 80 3.77 11 26 78 33 10 64 18 1.21 7.19 2.03 3.98 0.7 0.9
Tommy Milone Twins 92 4.1 16 16 95 42 12 69 25 1.31 6.76 2.46 4.23 0.9 1.2
Daniel Norris Tigers 132 4.3 24 24 128 63 17 110 54 1.39 7.54 3.72 4.47 1 1.3
Danny Duffy Royals 117 3.93 21 21 113 51 15 90 44 1.34 6.9 3.35 4.46 0.8 1.6
Matt Moore Rays 118 3.8 21 21 108 50 13 105 44 1.29 8.04 3.35 4.04 1.3 1.6
Jesse Chavez Blue Jays 140 3.89 24 24 136 61 18 122 42 1.27 7.81 2.71 4.09 1.8 2.1
Rich Hill Athletics 181 3.97 29 29 161 80 18 176 83 1.35 8.76 4.15 4 2.2 2.1
Luis Severino Yankees 161 3.86 28 28 152 69 19 143 54 1.28 7.99 3.02 4.03 2.3 2.5
Martin Perez Rangers 172 4.03 29 29 180 77 17 121 52 1.35 6.35 2.72 4.03 2.4 2.5

In addition to Chavez and Hill, there are two other pitchers projected for two or more wins. The Yankees and Rangers look to be in good shape with their fifth starters as both Luis Severino and Martin Perez are projected by Steamer to put up 2.5 WAR.

Severino is only 21 years old, and in his rookie campaign, tossed 62.1 innings and struck out 56 batters. Perez is 24 and put up his best season to date in 2015.

Thursday we'll take a look at the National League fifth starters to identify some teams who may have an advantage. We'll track these players and see how their 2016 matches up with the Steamer projections, and whether or not they ended up being their team's fifth starter.

***

Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score and a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.