2015 Starting Pitcher DL Projections

As our own Brad Johnson stated today, one of the reasons pitchers are difficult to evaluate in their inconsistencies. One of the biggest reasons for the inconsistencies is pitcher health. While a few hitters can lose an entire season because of injury, it is just a fraction compared to pitchers who have to sit out.  To help understand each pitcher’s injury risk, I will release my 2015 starting pitcher rankings.

I have been releasing the values for a few seasons with accurate results. Last season, I estimated 50 of the 128 pitchers who threw 120 innings in 2013 would end up on the DL. I was a little low since 53 starters made a least one trip. It work out to 41% or 2 out of every 5 starters. The percentage always seems to hover around 40%.

The get the values, I used the same trustworthy formula I created a few years back which looks at three items:

  • Age: The older the pitcher, the more the injury risk (+1% point increase each year older)
  • Injury history: Nothing predicts future injury like past injuries (+10% points for each season of the past three on the DL).
  • Games Started: A pitcher needs to show they can throw for an entire season without breaking down (-3% points for each full season up to three).

Additionally besides the overall injury percentage, I have found high breaking ball usage and ability to throw strikes pointing to higher injury risks. Here are the categories noted on the spreadsheet.

  • Slider% > 30%
  • Curveball usuage > 25%
  • Throw strikes < 60%
  • Pitchf/x Zone% < 47%

All the information can be found in this Google doc.  For a reference, here are the top ten most and least likely players to go on the DL

Name Age DL Stints (last 3 seasons) GS (last 3 seasons) DL%
Bartolo Colon 41 2 85 60.3%
Tim Hudson 38 2 80 57.1%
Colby Lewis 34 2 45 55.6%
John Lackey 35 2 60 55.3%
Charlie Morton 30 3 55 55.0%
J.A. Happ 31 3 68 55.0%
Ryan Vogelsong 36 2 82 54.4%
A.J. Burnett 37 2 95 54.4%
Matt Garza 30 3 69 53.6%
Clay Buchholz 29 3 73 51.9%
Travis Wood 27 0 89 32.1%
Wily Peralta 25 0 69 31.6%
Lance Lynn 27 0 95 31.5%
Wade Miley 27 0 95 31.5%
Mike Leake 26 0 94 30.5%
Jose Quintana 25 0 87 30.1%
Shelby Miller 23 0 63 29.9%
Julio Teheran 23 0 64 29.8%
Rick Porcello 25 0 91 29.7%
Madison Bumgarner 24 0 96 28.3%

Old, injured guys on the top … healthy established kids on the bottom.

Predicting exactly which starting pitcher will get injured in nearly impossible, but we can understand the pitcher’s injury chance. An owner just has to understand the risks involved with pitcher and make their own evaluations.

We hoped you liked reading 2015 Starting Pitcher DL Projections by Jeff Zimmerman!

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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this is fuckin awesome