Is Buchholz taking the proverbial “next step?”
June 18th, 2010 by czar

David Golebiewski over at Fangraphs recently published (before his Monday start) an article entitled “A Buchholz Breakout?”  He makes light of the fairly sizable xFIP-ERA split (4.33 – 2.52 = 1.81, as of the time of the article) as well as his pitch selection and contact profiles/rates.

I commented:

The real question is whether or not you think his HR/FB is sustainable as low as it is. His FIP is still 3.42, which is good for being inside the top 10 in the American League. It’s when the HR/FB (3.9 %) is normalized that we see the 4+ xFIP number.

While xFIP has been shown to be a slightly better predictor of performance than FIP, it also needs to be noted that of the top 10 GB pitchers (2010, to date) in the majors this season (Hudson, Masterson, Lowe, Garcia, Cook, Romero, Pinerio, Carmona, U. Jimenez, and King Felix) only two (Masterson and Pineiro) have lower FIPs than xFIPs, implying there might be a sliver of truth to the idea GB pitchers are able to suppress their HR/FB rates (whether it’s by inducing weak contact or keeping FB on a lower trajectory or what) below a more average (by batted ball profile) counterpart.

Dave’s right, Buchholz hasn’t been mid-2.00 ERA good peripherally and will likely see some regression if his rates stay the same; however, I think it’s doing him a disservice to imply that he’s on pace to pitch like a mid-rotation starter for the remainder of 2010. His BABIP is only about .020 pts below his career avg and his strand rate is right where it should be. He can very easily be a mid-3’s for the remainder of the season, especially if he continues to refine his pitch selection like he has over the last 12 months.

Posted in Observations

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