The 2013 Bill James Projections for the St. Louis Cardinals Starting Pitchers

Kevin C. Cox

The 2013 Bill James projections are available on Fangraphs, so let's take a look at the forecasts for the Cardinals starters.

One of the annual highlights of the Hot Stove has long been the release of the Bill James projections. In the days of yore this used to mean purchasing the Bill James Annual and leafing through the pages in search of the St. Louis Cardinals. Nowadays, the Bill James projections are available for free online. Last week, Fangraphs updated many player pages with the 2013 Bill James projection for that player. Today I thought we might take a look at the projections for the Cardinals starting pitchers.

The biggest question mark facing the 2013 St. Louis starters is health. On paper, the club will once again have veteran co-aces Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter atop the rotation. They will be joined by veteran sinkerballer, Jake Westbrook, who was signed to a one-year extension. Lefthander Jaime Garcia, who Dan wrote about on Saturday, looks likely to avoid surgery and enter spring training as a member of the rotation despite a lingering shoulder injury. After that, righthander Lance Lynn seems the best bet to round out the rotation. If injuries strike, the Cardinals will likely turn to Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller, or Trevor Rosenthal.

The James projections available online at Fangraphs are only available for Wainwright, Carpenter, Garcia, Westbrook, Lynn, and Kelly. No projection is available for Miller or Rosenthal, at least at Fangraphs. Because of this, there are no projections for the young righthanders contained in this post.

The following charts contain the Bill James 2013 projection for each respective starter. Because of the recent injury troubles that so many likely members of the rotation, I've included a comparison of the 2013 Bill James projection to both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. These stats help to give us some context for what James projects from the respective hurlers.

ADAM WAINWRIGHT

Wainwright

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

Projection

31

31

203.0

7.71

2.35

0.67

3.33

3.13

2011

0

0

0

-

-

-

-

-

Proj-’11 Diff

+31

+31

+203

-

-

-

-

-

2012

31

31

198.2

8.34

2.36

0.68

3.94

3.10

Proj-’12 Diff

+/- 0

+/- 0

+4 1/3

-0.63

-0.01

-0.01

-0.61

+0.03

Wainwright returned to game action in 2012 after losing the entire 2011 season to Tommy John surgery. While Wainwright just barely missed the 200-inning workhorse threshold, he pitched very well in 2012. His K/9 was the highest of his career, just barely ahead of the 8.32 K/9 he posted in 2010. Wainwright's 2.36 BB/9 was in between the sterling 2.19 BB/9 he posted in 2010 and the 2.55 in 2009. When it came to strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed, Wainwright was in vintage form. When it came to balls in play, he wasn't. Opponents hit for a .315 BABIP against the righty, which is 22 points above his career rate. This and a career high HR/FB rate of 9.9 percent help explain an ERA 84 points higher than his FIP.

There has been found to be a higher correlation between a pitcher's FIP one year and his ERA the next. The Bill James projection reflects this reality. The James forecast likes Wainwright to have a good rebound in 2013. The forecast projects 31 starts and over 200 innings and an ERA of 3.33 more in line with another excellent FIP of 3.13. The James FIP projection is essentially on the level of Waino's 2012 FIP, even though James curiously foresees Wainwright's K/9 falling to 7.71 after it being 8.34 in 2012, 8.32 in 2010, and 8.19 in 2009.

CHRIS CARPENTER

Carpenter

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

Projection

30

30

202.0

7.00

2.09

0.62

3.25

3.19

2011

34

34

237.1

7.24

2.09

0.61

3.45

3.06

Proj-’11 Diff

-4

-4

-35 1/3

-0.24

+/- 0

-0.01

+0.20

+0.13

2012

3

3

17.0

6.35

1.59

1.06

3.71

4.09

Proj-’12 Diff

+27

+27

+185.0

+0.65

-0.50

-0.44

-0.46

-0.80


Carpenter's 2012 season was yet another chapter in his storied injury history. Perhaps baseball's greatest shoulder surgery success and a recipient of Tommy John surgery, Carpenter underwent surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in July of 2012. By season's end, Carp was once again pitching in big-league games, albeit far less effectively than Cards fans had grown accustomed to seeing. How Carpenter's body holds up is one of the bigger questions facing the club as it enters 2013. The Bill James projection sees him holding up fairly well.

Carp is projected to make 27 starts and notch 185 innings with a very good 3.19 FIP and 3.25 ERA. The James forecast projects Carpenter's BB/9 to be exactly the same as it was during his 5.0-fWAR 2011 campaign. However, it also predicts that Carpenter's K/9 to fall to 7.0. Compared to the 2011, this is a fair-sized dropoff, but a 7.00 K/9 would be higher than Carpenter posted in either 2010 (6.86) or 2009 (6.73). It would be a wonderful development for the Cardinals if they get 202 innings of 3.19-FIP baseball from Carp next season.

JAIME GARCIA

Garcia

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

Projection

29

29

180.0

7.55

2.35

0.75

3.60

3.27

2011

32

32

194.2

7.21

2.31

0.69

3.56

3.23

Proj-’11 Diff

-3

-3

-14 2/3

+0.34

+0.04

+0.06

+0.04

-0.04

2012

20

20

121.2

7.25

2.22

0.52

3.92

2.97

Proj-’12 Diff

+9

+9

+78 1/3

+0.30

+0.13

+0.23

-0.30

+0.30

Garcia battled through an injury-plaged 2012 season. After making a handful of solid outings down the home stretch of the Wild Card race, Garcia was pulled from his NLDS start with shoulder tightness, the same malady that cut his start total from 32 in 2011 to 20 in 2012. The news out of the Cardinals is that Garcia is progressing nicely and is on track to have a normal winter before reporting to spring training.

The Bill James projection for Garcia is as rosy was the lefty's current shoulder prognosis. 29 starts, 180 innings, and a 3.27 FIP would all be wonderful to receive from Garcia. James forecasts that Garcia will continue to post a decent-sized ERA-FIP gap, even if it is smaller than the gaps that made his 2011 and 2012 frustrating for Cards fans. 175 innings of league-average run allowance is a nice think to have at the back of a rotation, as reflected by Westbrook's 2.3 fWAR.

JAKE WESTBROOK

Westbrook

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

Projection

28

28

173.0

5.25

3.02

0.78

4.21

4.08

2011

33

33

183.1

5.11

3.58

0.79

4.66

4.25

Proj-’11 Diff

-5

-5

-10 1/3

+0.14

-0.56

-0.01

-0.45

-0.17

2012

28

28

174.2

5.46

2.68

0.62

3.97

3.80

Proj-’12 Diff

+/- 0

+/- 0

-1 2/3

-0.19

+0.34

+0.16

+0.24

+0.28

Westbrook put together an excellent 2012 season for the Redbirds. With Carpenter out, the elder of the rotation slashed his BB/9 and turned in a very good season. Westbrook pitched in a most Duncanite way: few strikeouts, fewer walks, and lots of grounders. The result was a 103 ERA- and 100 FIP-.

For 2013, James forecasts a dip in K/9 and a solid rise in BB/9. The resulting 4.21 ERA and 4.08 FIP would make Westbrook a below-average pitcher, but a solid No. 5 pitcher nonetheless. If Wainwright, Carpenter, and Garcia are healthy and Lynn has a 2013 campaign that resembles his 2012 one, the Cardinals will be happy with a 4.21 ERA out of Westbrook at the backend of the rotation.

LANCE LYNN

Lynn

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

Projection

29

29

185.0

8.32

3.26

0.78

3.84

3.52

2011

18

2

34.2

10.38

2.86

0.78

3.12

2.88

Proj-’11 Diff

+11

+27

+110 1/3

-2.0.6

+0.40

+/- 0

+0.72

+0.64

2012

35

29

176.0

9.20

3.27

0.82

3.78

3.49

Proj-’12 Diff

-6

+/- 0

+9.0

-0.88

-0.01

-0.04

+0.06

+0.03

Lynn had an excellent first season as a starter. The righty deployed his live four-seamer to great effect, inducing a lot of strikeouts. The K's helped make up for the walks, to some extent. What's more, the young pitcher showed an ability to bear down with runners on the bases, holding opposing batters to a line of .225/.326/.360 with men on and .219/.318/.358 with runners in scoring position as opposed to .270/.328/.431 with the bases empty. If Lynn is better able to attack opposing batters with nobody on in 2013, he could have an even better season.

The Bill James forecast for Lynn sees him having much the same season he had in 2012, but with fewer strikeouts. If Lynn repeats his 2012 season, as James projects, he'll have another good season. In 2012, he was worth 3.0 fWAR. However, if Lynn can cut down on his walks, he could become a veritable ace.

JOE KELLY

Kelly

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

Projection

61

0

67.0

6.45

3.09

0.67

4.16

3.73

2012

24

16

107.0

6.31

3.03

0.84

3.53

4.00

Proj-’12 Diff

+37

-16

-40.0

+0.06

+0.06

-0.17

+0.53

-0.27

The Cardinals called upon Kelly to start in 2012 due to injury and the young sinkerballer answered the bell, pitching better than many expected. He made 16 starts and posted a 3.53 ERA. Kelly's FIP suggests his low runs allowed was unsustainable. This is perhaps why Kelly seems destined for the 2013 bullpen.

James projects Kelly to be a full-time reliever in 2014. With his sinker/breaking ball combination, he seems well-suited for a relief role. The .313/.389/.528 line lefthanded batters posted against Kelly last year suggests the same. For some context, lefthanded batters' .393 wOBA off Kelly is roughly on par with Robinson Cano's .394 wOBA last season (and he played his home games in Yankee Stadium). It's difficult to succeed as a starter in the big leagues with a platoon split like that. The James forecast seems accurate. Lynn seems the favorite to earn a rotation spot this spring, with Miller and perhaps Rosenthal the first to get the call should an injury strike.

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