Last 30 Day Starting Pitcher SIERA Laggards – 6/24/21

Yesterday, I reviewed the starting pitchers leading the league in SIERA over the last 30 days. Now let’s flip to the other end — those starting pitchers who have posted the worst SIERA marks in the league over the last 30 days. Is a decline in velocity to blame? Sudden control issues? Let’s find out.

Last 30 Day SIERA Laggards
John Gant 13.9% 15.8% 34.3% 6.48
J.A. Happ 15.9% 8.0% 28.6% 5.47
Vince Velasquez 19.4% 12.2% 29.7% 5.36
Randy Dobnak 8.0% 6.3% 53.2% 5.35
Hyun-Jin Ryu 14.0% 9.1% 50.5% 5.30
Vladimir Gutierrez 18.9% 11.5% 36.6% 5.29
Martin Perez 13.7% 7.4% 41.1% 5.29
Kyle Freeland 14.8% 9.4% 47.3% 5.27
Johan Oviedo 15.7% 11.1% 48.7% 5.24
Matt Peacock 14.0% 11.2% 58.2% 5.17
Garrett Richards 16.7% 10.3% 46.7% 5.10
Zack Greinke 14.7% 6.0% 36.4% 5.06
Zach Davies 17.1% 9.9% 46.8% 5.02
Jordan Lyles 16.1% 7.6% 35.2% 5.00

Once again, I’ll mostly keep my comments to the surprising names, rather than discuss each one.

Poor John Gant, up on a mountain all by his lonesome. Control has been an issue all season long and it’s nothing new for him as he’s posted a double digit walk rate every year since 2017. His velocity is also way down. So let’s see here — complete loss of control and velocity…sounds like he may be pitching hurt. Heck, for his sake I would hope he isn’t fully healthy! He’s somehow magically posted a 3.50 ERA, which is why the Cardinals might not be wondering about his health. If he’s anywhere near your active roster, you’re playing with fire.

J.A. Happ has also performed poorly all season long as his strikeout rate has fallen to a career low, no doubt driven by a decline in velocity to his lowest since 2010. He has also become an extreme fly ball pitcher, which is dangerous for someone who is allowing so many balls in play. He has only had a SIERA under 4.00 once since 2016, so it’s not even like he’s been a particularly good pitcher and just in the midst of a slow start. The upside simply isn’t there to bother hanging onto him hoping for a rebound.

Who’s still on the Vince Velasquez bandwagon waiting for a breakout? Over the last 30 days, his strikeouts have disappeared, but it’s not due to any significant change in pitch mix or drop in fastball velocity. I don’t think this last 30 day performance would change my opinion of him, but the sample size of bad results continues to increase, making any sort of breakout more and more difficult to imagine coming. Of course, he owns a career SIERA well below his actual ERA, so perhaps a lot of it is bad fortune, or he’s just not MLB quality at keeps balls in play from falling for hits (he’s posted a BABIP of at least .303 every single year of his career).

LOL at Randy Dobnak’s strikeout rate.

Hyun-Jin Ryu qualifies as the first true surprise on this list, as his control has regressed and his strikeouts have disappeared over the last 30 days. His fastball velocity has slowly declined throughout the season. He opened the year with three straight starts averaging over 90 MPH, which was a nice jump from last year, but then his fastball slipped into the 89 MPH range. It stayed there for the next six starts. His next three, which count as the first three over the last 30 days, he was barely over 87 MPH, and then below 89 MPH twice. Fortunately, his last two starts were back above 89 MPH, but this trend is still concerning. It’s very possible that Ryu loses significant effectiveness and ability to generate whiffs if his velocity drops below 90 MPH. For his career, he has significantly outperformed his SIERA, mostly due to a high LOB%. That may very well be a skill, but even those types of skills erode. While Ryu still owns a solid 3.25 ERA, now might be a perfect time to trying selling high. Even if he remains a fantasy asset, it’s likely you’ll get far more value in return than he’ll provide the rest of the way, unless his velocity rebounds.

Garrett Richards had a nice run in late April/early May, but his skills have reverted back to weak levels once again. While his fastball velocity peaked above 95 MPH once during his first game of our last 30 day sample, it quickly dropped back into the 94 MPH range, while his last start came in at just 93.3 MPH, easily a season low, and just the third start below 94 MPH. For some reason, he has actually relied more on that fastball in recent starts, at the expense of his curveball. I see little reason for optimism here.

Gee golly, check out those Zack Greinke skills! One figured that his velocity decline to below 90 MPH would eventually hit his strikeout rate and it appears that it’s finally happening. He has only averaged 90 MPH with his fastball once this year and over his last 30 days, his velocity hasn’t been any worse than it was earlier in the season. However, his velocity did decline to just 88.3 MPH in his last start, which tied a season low. We’ll see if he could bounce back to 89 MPH in his next start, but even if it does, the writing might already be on the wall. He has been able to succeed the last couple of years with the down velocity, but perhaps it took a bit longer for hitters to adjust, given his pitchability and wide array of offerings. Like Ryu, Greinke’s ERA remains solid, so it provides owners with a continued window to sell him and likely get more in return than he’ll provide.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Joe Wilkeymember
2 years ago

Gant may be injured, but he almost certainly doesn’t deserve that K% and BB%. Is he really that different from a plate discipline perspective as compared to Kwang-hyun Kim, who has a 20.2% K% and 8.3% BB% on the season?