Tuesday, July 03, 2018

2018 Giants: June PQS, newPQS, ogcPQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of June 2018, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 (wow, 13th year of this!) and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters.

What's New

As you might have seen, I've written a few posts about how PQS has been modified (newPQS) and how I'm unhappy about it and created ogcPQS.  I think I'm a little biased though, because in newPQS, Bumgarner is not that great a pitcher, his DOM% is in the 30's for the most part over his career, and perhaps it's a matter of acclimating myself to the new standards for the new metric.  But as I wrote in my post about my unhappiness, there were changes that I thought were made for the sake of making every category 50/50-ish, instead of focusing on identifying a good pitcher.  I'm not sure how I'm going to proceed going forward, but for now, I thought I would compare for each pitcher, their PQS, newPQS, and ogcPQS.

What's Good and What's Not

From my observations of PQS (now old PQS; not sure what the ranges are for newPQS or especially ogcPQS, which is my hybrid), a DOM at or above the 40% mark is indicative of good pitching; above 50% is great; above 70% is elite. A low DIS is also indicative of good pitching, just look at the table in the link above showing DOM% and DIS% on the axes.

Basically, you want to see a pitcher's DOM% to be over 40% and ideally over 50%, and you want their DIS to be under 20% and ideally under 10%. For example, Johan Santana has a 76% DOM and 3% DIS in 2006 (2.77 ERA), whereas Orlando Hernandez had a 52% DOM and 28% DIS (4.66 ERA), and Adam Eaton had a 31% DOM and 31% DIS (5.12 ERA). Read the link (unfortunately, they removed the article and thus the table is no longer available, sorry), as I noted, there's a nice chart there showing the combination of high DOM% and low DIS%, and there you can see particularly how a low DIS% is so important to a low ERA.

Plus, I have not figured out what is the levels of okay and bad are for the newPQS, and I may never know for ogcPQS (probably a good reason for me not to keep that going), since I don't have league wide stats on that.  But clearly, with Bumgarner's historic record pushed down to the 40's and 50's, after being in the 60's, 70's, 80's, the ranges for Good, Great, Elite, have clearly changed, 

If you had to chose a high DOM% or a low DIS%, pitchers tend to have a lower ERA when you have a low DIS% vs. a high DOM% (obviously if you combine both, you have a much better chance of having an elite pitcher).  But I think when the DOM% is high enough, you win more by choosing a high DOM% over a low DIS%, as there are more high quality games pitched overall.

Part of the new terminology is DEC or Decent, which covered all the starts that aren't DOM or DIS (what I used to call MID; love this term better).  What I had found previously was that DEC starts were actually decent, and would help a pitcher keep his ERA decent, whereas a particularly bad DIS are the ones that would kill the pitcher's ERA.  In fact, pitchers could have a decent ERA even if they do not have many DOM starts, as long as they can limit DIS starts.

The new methodology of no more automatic DIS starts for under 5 IP, will help to bump up DEC ERA, for my experience dealing with the automatic DIS starts was that a good number of them were decent (and sometimes DOM) but hurt badly because of too many hits and/or walks.

I wholeheartedly recommend buying Baseball Forecaster and learning more about their methods of analyzing baseball. It has been greatly illuminating for me, and if you want to get a taste for it without paying full price, they used to sell their old editions of their annuals on their website for half price or less (plus shipping); but that was before he sold the company off, and I haven't checked recently.  I've started buying the e-book version to save money on it, as the main value is related to the fantasy baseball content, which I don't use at all now.  So going forward, I might be waiting a season to buy the books, it will depend.

Giants Starters' PQS for 2018 Season

Tyler Beede -
PQS:        0, 0/ / /  (0% DOM, 100% DIS; 0:2/2)
newPQS:  2, 2/ / /  (0% DOM, 0% DIS; 0:0/2)
ogcPQS:  2, 2/ / /  (0% DOM, 0% DIS; 0:0/2)

Ty Blach -
PQS:        3, 0, 3, 3, 4, 3, 5/4, 0, 0, 0, 0/ /    (25% DOM, 42% DIS; 3:5/12)
newPQS:  2, 1, 2, 2, 0, 1, 2/ 3, 1, 0, 1, 1/ /  (0% DOM, 58% DIS; 0:7/12)
ogcPQS:  2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2/ 3, 1, 0, 1, 1/ /   (0% DOM, 58% DIS; 0:7/12)

Madison Bumgarner -
PQS:         / /3, 2, 2, 5, 5/    (40% DOM, 0% DIS; 2:0/5)
newPQS:  / /2, 1, 1, 5, 5/  (40% DOM, 40% DIS; 2:2/5)
ogcPQS:  / /3, 1, 2, 5, 5/   (40% DOM, 40% DIS; 2:2/5)

Johnny Cueto -
PQS:        5, 2, 5, 5, 3/ / /   (60% DOM, 0% DIS; 3:0/5)
newPQS:  4, 1, 5, 4, 1/ / /  (60% DOM, 40% DIS; 3:2/5)
ogcPQS:  4, 2, 5, 5, 2/ / /   (60% DOM, 0% DIS; 3:0/5)

Derek Holland -
PQS:        3, 5, 0, 4, 0/4, 1, 4, 4, 5, 1/0, 4, 3, 4, 5/    (56% DOM, 31% DIS; 9:5/16)
newPQS:  2, 4, 0, 3, 1/2, 0, 4, 1, 4, 0/3, 2, 2, 3, 4/  (25% DOM, 31% DIS; 4:5/16)
ogcPQS:  2, 5, 0, 4, 1/2, 0, 4, 2, 5, 0/3, 2, 2, 4, 4/   (38% DOM, 25% DIS; 6:4/16)

Jeff Samardzija -
PQS:        /3, 0, 3/ /   (0% DOM, 33% DIS; 0:1/3)
newPQS:  /2, 0, 2/ / (0% DOM, 33% DIS; 0:1/3)
ogcPQS:  /2, 0, 2/ /  (0% DOM, 33% DIS; 0:1/3)

Chris Stratton -
PQS:        4, 3, 3, 5, 4, 0/4, 0, 0, 1, 3/5, 0, 3, 5, 3, 0/    (36% DOM, 36% DIS; 6:6/17)
newPQS:  3, 2, 3, 5, 4, 0/2, 1, 0, 1, 2/4, 1, 3, 3, 2, 0/  (18% DOM, 36% DIS; 3:6/17)
ogcPQS:  3, 2, 3, 5, 4, 0/2, 1, 0, 1, 2/5, 1, 3, 4, 3, 1/   (18% DOM, 36% DIS; 4:6/17)

Andy Suarez -
PQS:        3/5, 3, 0, 4, 0, 4/    (46% DOM, 23% DIS; 6:3/13)
newPQS:  3/4, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2/  (23% DOM, 31% DIS; 3:4/13)
ogcPQS:  3/4, 3, 2, 3, 1, 2/   (31% DOM, 31% DIS; 4:4/13)

Giants Season overall -
PQS:  38% DOM, 32% DEC, 30% DIS out of 84 games counted (32:25/84)
newPQS:  20% DOM, 42% DEC, 38% DIS out of 84 games counted (17:32/84)
ogcPQS:  26% DOM, 42% DEC, 32% DIS out of 84 games counted (22:27/84)

Giants Month of April -
PQS:  34% DOM, 42% DEC, 24% DIS out of 29 games counted (10:7/29)
newPQS:  21% DOM, 48% DEC, 31% DIS out of 29 games counted (6:9/29)
ogcPQS:  24% DOM, 52% DEC, 24% DIS out of 29 games counted (7:7/29)

Giants Month of May -
PQS:  33% DOM, 15% DEC, 52% DIS out of 27 games counted (9:14/27)
newPQS:  11% DOM, 30% DEC, 59% DIS out of 27 games counted (3:16/27)
ogcPQS:  11% DOM, 37% DEC, 52% DIS out of 27 games counted (3:14/27)

Giants Month of June -
PQS:  46% DOM, 36% DEC, 18% DIS out of 28 games counted (13:5/28)
newPQS:  29% DOM, 46% DEC, 25% DIS out of 28 games counted (8:7/28)
ogcPQS:  43% DOM, 36% DEC, 21% DIS out of 28 games counted (12:6/28)

The month of June for PQS was like night and day compared to May or even April.

Even though the Giants were without Cueto and Samardzija, the pitching rotation came up big for the Giants in June, making the decisions for what to do with the rotation tougher (the way the Giants want it, which some fans don't seem to recognize, they seem to think they can run the Giants better than the experts who led us to three championships) when the two return to the rotation in early July.

Holland led the way, again, leading in DOM starts in all the methodologies, 3 DOM in PQS, 1 DOM in newPQS, and 2 DOM in ogcPQS.  He had 1, 0, 0 DIS starts.  Andy Suarez was good again, with 3 DOM in PQS and ogcPQS, 2 DOM in newPQS, with 1, 2, 2 DIS starts.  Dereck Rodriquez was also tied with 3 DOM in PQS and ogcPQS, 2 DOM in newPQS, with 1 DIS starts in all three, which probably was the best overall, for the month of June, of the five starters.

Both Bumgarner and Stratton did okay too.  Stratton had 2 DOM in PQS and ogcPQS, 1 DOM in newPQS, with 2 DIS in the three methodologies.  Bumgarner had 2 DOM in the three, 0, 2, 1 DIS in the three methodologies, respectively.

Overall, PQS looked good, though not as good in past rotations.  Us Giants fans were spoiled by regular 60%+ DOM for the month.  Still, pretty good after the bad May, which the advanced metrics hinted at.

The pitching stats were even better.  Bumgarner led the way with 2.51 ERA, but the worse was Stratton with 3.55 ERA, which was still pretty good.
  • Bumgarner:  2.51 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 2.78 K/BB; 3.63 FIP; 3.92 kwERA
  • Suarez:  2.62 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 4.14 K/BB (great!); 2.82 FIP; 3.47 kwERA
  • Holland:  2.70 ERA, 10.5 K/9, 3.44 K/BB (very good!); 3.29 FIP; 3.00 kwERA
  • Rodriguez:  3.21 ERA, 7.8 K9, 3.63 K/BB (very good!); 3.55 FIP; 3.65 kwERA
  • Stratton:  3.55 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 2.75 K/BB (good); 3.02 FIP; 4.17 kwERA
Where, once, it was considered a no-brainer that Cueto and Samardzija returns to the rotation, and the young guys go down, the Giants would need to get creative with the rotation to keep everyone up in the majors, and contributing.

June PQS Comparison Thoughts

As noted from last month, the peripherals suggested a much better month in June, and it was only PQS that captured that.  So I wondered about the value of keeping ogcPQS going.  However, in June, both PQS and ogcPQS captured how well the pitching staff did, as PQS had 46% DOM/18% DIS while ogcPQS had 43% DOM/21% DIS.  That was much better than newPQS which had 29% DOM/25% DIS, and, obviously, as the data above showed, the pitchers did very well, whether viewed by ERA, FIP, or kwERA.  I'm sure each month will probably tell a different story, it will be interesting to see which one does best over the full season.

Overall, though, even by PQS standards, this rotation is nothing like the Giants have had during their Dynasty period, when they were collectively spitting out 60's.  The 30's the rotation had in April and May, is nothing like what it had during the peak of Tim/Matt/Mad.  Neither was the 46% of June, but at least that was in what I would call good territory.  And would have reached 50%, where you reach Great, with one more DOM start from, say, Bumgarner or Stratton, both of whom had only 2 DOM starts in the month.

June 2018 Comments

It has been reported by many outlets that the Giants had their first winning month since two years ago, when they were the best team in the majors in the first half of 2016.  Injuries have really put a damper on their record ever since, though there were months like April 2017, where I think the team lost but did not suffer any major loss (or poor performance, like Cueto and Pence throughout much of 2017) from injury.  Still, injuries are the main cause of much of that losing misery.

Among the hitters, in June, Crawford, Hundley, McCutchen, and Gorkys led the way, with Hanson providing a nice boost, along with Posey and Sandoval.  Belt was cooled off by his appendicitis, unfortunately, so luckily others were able to pick up some of the load.   He's probably still using his good mechanics, now that he has committed to it, but just not in playing shape or regular season shape, having to recover from the abdominal surgery.

Panik, Pence, Williamson (bad post concussion), and especially Longoria and Jackson (both under .400 OPS), did not contribute much offense.  The offense was carried by the top four hitters and supported by another three hitters.  That was enough to get them to 4.21 runs scored average (under NL average of 4.38 runs scored).

So it was the pitching that carried the month of June to a 18-10 record, with a 3.00 runs allowed average for the month, powering them to 2.5 games behind the D-backs for the division league, sweeping them in Arizona for the first time in a long while.   K/9 jumped from 7.3 in May to 8.0 in June, while K/BB went from a poor 2.09 to a superior 3.18, led by Suarez and Rodriguez.

Starting Rotation Tough Decisions

[NOTE:  unfortunately, wrote this a couple of days ago, but Giants just announced that Cueto and Samardzija are returning to the rotation against the Cards, and Derek Holland is going into the bulllpen, as the swing man (which means Blach going down, I assume; Dutch is slated to pitch behind Cueto if not used before; Bochy also noted that Holland will be making spot starts, as necessary, to give Cueto and Samardzija extra rest between starts, as the Giants are planning on being cautious with Cueto), with Stratton in limbo right now as to his next start after today's start; rotation going forward:  Suarez Wednesday, Cueto Thursday (85 pitch limit), D-Rod Friday, Shark Saturday, Bumgarner Sunday, then maybe Stratton or Suarez on Monday;  I'll leave the below unchanged, as I don't think every move has been announced yet, and these factors are there, no matter what they decide]

The Giants will have to made a decision soon about what to do about the rotation when first Samardzija and then Cueto, perhaps both in the coming series against the Cards, rejoin the team.  Many fans are bemoaning the possibility that either Suarez or D-Rod would need to be removed from the rotation, after they did so well.  Many also threw Stratton and Holland under the bus when when they were the ones who kept the rotation aloft in April and May, respectively.

What some are not factoring into the decision is the fact that neither Suarez nor D-Rod have pitched many innings before in a season.  Both had prior highs of a little over 150 IP, and both already have around 90 IP (94.1 IP and 87.1 IP, respectively).  Krukow (and others) have noted that you should only add 25 IP to the pitchers workload, in order to not overwork a young pitcher's arm, which would put both around 180 IP, or roughly 90 IP left for them to pitch in the regular season (let along saving something for the playoffs).

If they average 6.0 IP for the rest of their starts, that's 15 starts, whereas there is 16-17 starts left per rotation slot for the rest of the season, plus the innings during the playoffs.  They could suffer dead arm and/or strain on their arms if the Giants keep them in the rotation and continue using them in the same way, is the way that theory goes.

Then, there is Derek Holland, who is actually possibly behind both Suarez and Rodriguez in terms of stamina.  While Holland threw 135.0 IP in 2017, after he missed most of 2014-15 with an injury, he basically pitched well initially before his arm/body gave out and he was unable to keep his performance going.  Last season, after 10 starts and 60.2 IP, he had a 2.37 ERA, looking like he's back, but then he hit the wall, and had a 9.32 ERA the rest of the way.  He's at 17 starts and 88.2 IP right now, and maybe his bad start in his last start, is the start of his bad stretch, that's something to be monitored.

Thinking Differently with the Starters with a Trio Rotation

What I would like to see is for the Giants to use a trio rotation, within the rotation, using Holland, Suarez, and D-Rod.

Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, and Stratton (he hasn't pitched much more than 150 IP either, but pitched well for the Giants at the end of last season, and maybe he'll be in the mix for this idea too, later, juggling four starters) would be the four starters, going every five games.  There is also some talk about Cueto going on a six game rest routine, to give his arm more rest, which I'm all for as well, so that's potentially part of the mix too.

For the trio of Holland, Suarez, and D-Rod, I would like to see them take the roles of Starter, Tandem Starter, and Long Reliever.  One would start and go 4-6 innings.  The Tandem Starter would then pitch 2-3 innings (maybe as much as 4-6 himself, depending on the situation), as they try to get the team to the 8th or 9th inning, in order to give their top relievers some rest.  And the long reliever would sit and rest, unless needed somewhere in there for long relief.  Then after that start, the Tandem Starter would rotate in as the Starter, the long reliever handles Tandem, and the starter moves to long relief, to get some rest.  And so on with each start. 

Thus, a normal strain of 15-18 innings over 3 starts, would be reduced to 6-9 innings, plus the occasional long relief chore (which would jumble things, flexibility is key here) and occasional need to pitch 4-6 innings as the tandem starter.  And maybe mix in Stratton (or swap out one of the trio into Stratton's spot), should he hit a bad patch of dead arm or poor performance.

To do this would require the Giants to first return Pierce Johnson to the minors, clearing a spot for Samardzija, and removing one of the trio from the rotation at that point (and perhaps Tandem them, if enough starts pass), then option Blach to the minors when Cueto returns, at which point, the Trio Rotation would commence.   Cueto's return would also necessitate a removal of someone off the 40-man roster (he's on the 60-day) and so someone will lose their spot at that poin (Osich?  Johnson?  It will hurt some, whoever it is, the 40-man has been cut to the bone, each move will cost a potentially useful prospect/player).

That would remove one of the relievers, but with this Trio Rotation, the hope is that we get a lot of starts between Bumgarner, Samardzija, and the Trio (with Cueto and Stratton contributing occasionally) that stretch into the 7th and 8th, resulting in less usage of the key relievers, all of whom have been overused or are limited because they are recovering from major injury:  Melancon, Smith, Watson, Dyson (also Gearrin, whom the Giants tried to waiver and entice another team at that time to take on his contract and save the team some CBT threshold money).

With Strickland out, that works out to a 12-man pitching staff, and Bochy can probably pair off a righty and lefty, to alternate in setup and closing duties, plus occasional other set-up as necessary, for occasion back-to-backs.

Cueto and Shark Concerns

I doubt the Giants will do this, but I think this is a good way to limit innings, while keeping the guys starting some.  Another reason to do this is because both Cueto and Samardzija are unknowns right now.

Cueto was seriously considered for TJS, and while he rested and rehabed, and got some enriched blood injections that appears to be all the rage today (I know for certain Melancon got it and I believe Cueto got it too), his arm could go at any time, as far as I'm concerned.  Dead Man Pitching.

Shark, on the other hand, was not healthy at all, during this season, and is having problems lasting deep into starts in the minors, so I'm not sure whether he's ready for the majors either or how long he can last.  I have not heard any explanation about why he was not healthy this season, so he has to be red flagged as a higher injury risk.  Neither Cueto or Samardzija are sure things to pitch healthily for the rest of the 2018 season.

So we keep the young guys up here in the majors, reducing their load for good reasons, but the way our rotation has been going in recent years, undoubtedly, there will be another injury or poor performance, at which point, we can rotate in one of our rested young starters back into the rotation (or even have one guy tandem the other two, for the one who don't reach 6.0 IP), and move out the guy who is not able to compete.  This also rests them so that they could be used, then in the playoffs.

For example, Holland in 2016, pitched well in his first five starts, then was battered until placed on the DL.  After sitting out the majors for about two months (probably a couple of weeks of MiLB rehab), he returns to the rotation, and had three more great starts before getting battered around again.  This is similar to how the Dodgers have been doing it in recent seasons with their plethora of starting pitchers, some who start, some (like Maeda) whose body would probably fail under the full strain of a MLB season, but who can handle a mixture of starts and relief.  And this would keep our guys rested and yet still performing, but giving them regular innings, just not as many as a starter.  And hopefully keep them performing well into the playoffs, should the Giants get there.

Playoff Reach

At only 3.5 games back of the division leader D-backs, 1.0 games back of of the Dodgers, and 2.0 games back of the second wild card spot (held by Phillies), the Giants are fully within the reach of making the playoffs.

Should be a fun season, still, in spite of all the injuries.  One would think adding Samardzija and Cueto to the rotation would help propel the Giants into a playoff spot.  Overall, we have a great bullpen, which supports the good rotation we have gotten so far, but which is still a question mark due to youth and age/injury.  And the offense is good enough for the most part, to support he pitching, so that the team can be playoff competitive.

And the offense looked to be good when the season started, and so far, 4.17 runs scored average is below average, but not too bad considering that Belt, Longoria, and Panik has spent time on the DL, as well as McCutchen not hitting as well as hoped, but has been hitting the ball hard, and thus likely to start heating up as long as he can keep it up, which he has in June (892 OPS vs. 703 in April, 771 in May), and Posey not hitting for any power at all, in spite of it being early season (not going to get better deeper in the season, apparently he's suffering from some sort of hip issue, which required him sitting out two games against the Dodgers, showing how bad it was). 

If Belt can return to his prior goodness, I think the offense will be fine with everyone else doing what they are capable of.   Sandoval has been nice in place of Longoira, and Hanson has been nice playing all around, LF right now, sharing with Slater, who has also been hitting well, and pushing for the starting LF job, as well.  Gorkys has been great, but obviously due some regression, hopefully the changes he made to his batting stance, plus his health, continues to pay off.

Go Giants!

2 comments:

  1. Holland just went to the pen last night giving us 4 lefties in the pen. Someone's going to be sent down, I would guess that Blach is the odd-man out now and Suarez later.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like how they used D-Rod in relief yesterday, much like you suggested. It is exciting to see him succeeding at this level and I hope he and Suarez can sustain their good work the rest of the way.

    ReplyDelete

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