There is a big enough sample size now to see which starting pitchers are overachieving and should see some negative regression coming from in the weeks and months ahead. Let’s take a look at six guys who might begin to tail off a bit.
- Jon Gray 2.89 ERA (4.31 FIP) (4.18 xERA) Both the FIP and expected ERA are much higher than his current 2.89 ERA on the season. Gray actually ranks in the bottom half of all pitchers in expected batting average allowed. His xERA is actually higher this year than it was last year or the year before. Gray is having a nice season, but he isn’t as good as he looks right now.
- Yusei Kikuchi 3.75 ERA (5.26 FIP) (4.60 xERA) Kikuchi is a unique pitcher in that he strikes out a bunch of guys, but allows very hard contact and puts a lot of guys on base. His left on base rate (Stranded runners rate) was 72% and 74% the last two years. So far this year, Kikuchi’s left on base rate is all the way up at 89.5%. It won’t stay there for much longer. Kikuchi is actually striking out fewer batters this year as well. A possible fade candidate.
- Marcus Stroman 2.47 ERA (3.34 FIP) (3.79 xERA) Stroman is a good pitcher, but he isn’t this good. Opponents have a batting average on balls in play of just .250 against Stroman this season. He does do a good job of limiting hard contact, so I think Stroman can still be a solid pitcher, but the 2.47 ERA will go up. Let’s see how the oddsmakers price him moving forward.
- Michael Wacha 2.90 ERA (3.76 FIP) (4.06 xERA) Wacha has been in the big leagues since 2013. He is about to turn 32 years old, and he is currently on the injury list due to shoulder fatigue. The advanced metrics all say Wacha will experience regression soon. Opponents BABIP is just .245. Wacha doesn’t have overpowering stuff at this point in his career either.
- Clayton Kershaw 2.55 ERA (3.51 FIP) (3.51 xERA) Clayton Kershaw is still a very good pitcher. I certainly don’t want to make it sound like this is a guy I’m excited to bet against. The numbers do show that he has had some good fortune this year though. Because Kershaw has actually pitched very well in the second half of the season in his career, this is one where I’ll be cautious about fading him unless the price is very enticing.
- Josiah Gray 3.43 ERA (4.77 FIP) (4.33 xERA) A second Gray has made the list. Josiah Gray has seen his strikeouts per nine innings drop from 9.32 last year to 7.86 this year. Gray is stranding 83.4% of runners on base and that isn’t going to stay that high. In his young career, Gray has been far worse in the second half of the season. In his career, Gray has a 3.92 ERA in the first half compared to a 5.73 ERA in the second half of the season. He should see his stats regress quite a bit.