Results: L, -$200Analysis: 953 Washington at
and Phillies will be back at it on Saturday night with a matchup
between Tanner Roark and AJ Burnett. In Roark, the Nationals have a
guy that has filled in very well with Doug Fister, posting a 2.76
ERA and a 3.43 FIP to date. Roark has been a rather impressive back
of the rotation starter over his first 19 appearances and 10 career
starts. He throws a lot of strikes, he has good control, and his
fastball has a little bit of sink to it to induce ground balls.
What's impressive about Roark this season is that he's getting more
swings and misses inside the strike zone, which allows a pitcher to
have a greater margin for error and work deeper into games. Only
once has Roark failed to finish at least six innings in his five
starts this season.
We like Roark
and his consistency, but we also see a lot of problem areas for
Phillies starter AJ Burnett. A few weeks back, Burnett revealed
that he would spend the rest of this season pitching with an
inguinal hernia. Over the last three starts, Burnett has shown no
ill effects, but PITCHf/x data paints a less optimistic picture.
Burnett is pitching at velocities that are the lowest of his career
and he is throwing fewer pitches in the strike zone. As a result,
his strikeout rate has fallen precipitously, while his walk rate
has increased. He has walked well over 10 percent of the batters
that he has faced while his strikeout rate has fallen to below
advanced metrics also tell of regression on the horizon. He has a
2.15 ERA but a 3.57 FIP, a 3.98 xFIP, and a 4.13 SIERA. His K/BB
ratio is just 1.65, even lower than the rates he was posting while
struggling with the Yankees. Interestingly, since the injury,
Burnett has pretty much abandoned his changeup and is now a
two-pitch pitcher with the fastball and curve. The Phillies are a
poor defensive team and Burnett's .270 BABIP is not going to be
sustainable. It's 21 points lower than his career average and 35
points lower than last year's BABIP with the Pirates, one of the
top defensive teams in the National League because of the shifts
that they employ.
batted ball luck, declining control, an injury, and regression,
there's no reason to back Burnett in this start. Roark is a solid
pitcher for the Nationals who is getting better in important
categories like strikeout rate and he appears undervalued on
Saturday going up against a big name like Burnett.
Pick Made: May 3 2014 4:51AM PST