Last year I introduced Pitching Efficiency Rating (or PER) as a way to evaluate starting pitchers.
A lengthy explanation can be found in the five-part series I wrote last summer to introduce the statistic, but the basic gist of the stat is that it evaluates the final outcome of the pitcher’s performance (not necessarily dominance).
So let’s take a look at the Indians 2015 pitching staff and what their recent PER performance tells us about their expectations.
There’s generally a strong correlation between PER from one season to the next, so while Kluber’s absurd strikeout total could (and probably should) be considered a partial fluke, there’s reason to be hopeful of another Cy Young caliber campaign.
Even in 2013, Kluber rated above average with a .752 PER.
Carlos Carrasco – .787 PER
He only made 14 starts, so it’s tough to draw any conclusions about Carrasco’s performance, but we’ve seen positive numbers from him in PER before.
Prior to his injury, in 2011 Carrasco posted a .736 PER in 21 starts.
Between the 2011 and 2014 seasons—probably his two most healthy years in the majors—Carrasco has made 35 starts with an above-average PER, indicating he has the potential to maintain the second or third starter role.
Trevor Bauer – .729 PER
Despite flashing moments of dominance, Bauer’s inability to pitch deep into games killed his PER. A .729 PER translate to an expected win percentage of .502, which almost perfectly correlates to the Indians 13-13 record with Bauer on the mound in 2014.
On the bright side, he’s young and there’s certainly room for growth.
Based on his 2014 campaign, it’s safe to assume Bauer is capable of being a league-average pitcher, but don’t assume he’s anything more until he shows the ability to go deep into games.
Danny Salazar – .713 PER
Only 12 pitchers who made at least 20 starts posted a worse PER than Salazar in 2014. His PER translate to a .475 win percentage expectancy, so the Indians slightly overachieved with a 10-10 mark in his 20 starts.
What’s most concerning about Salazar is his tendency to implode. He posted six starts with a PER win expectancy below 30 percent, and only three with a win expectancy over 70 percent.
T.J. House – .729 PER
House posted the exact same PER as Bauer, but did so with far less fanfare.
House’s performance was a little less volatile than Bauer, but also didn’t show the ability to dominate a game the way Bauer did on occasion. His PER is certainly an indication that he Indians may have stumbled into a quality middle of the rotation guy in House, even if he lacks the upside to turn into something more like Bauer.
Josh Tomlin – .736 PER
Half of Tomlin’s 16 starts resulted in a win expectancy of 60 percent or greater – only two fewer than Bauer, who had 10 more starts than Tomlin.
I know fans are generally down on Tomlin due to the fact that he’s a pitch-to-contact type starter, which leads to some big hits, but he consistently pitches deep into games and an innings-eater can be extremely value in the back of the rotation.
In 70 career starts Tomlin has a career .748 PER—second only to Kluber among all Indians starters since 2010.
Zach McAllister – .664 PER
McAllister was a mess a season ago, only twice stringing together consecutive starts with a positive win expectancy. But how much did injuries play a role?
In 2013, McAllsiter posted a .731 PER, which gave us hope heading into the 2014 season. So maybe a healthy McAllister could get back on track.
He’s only 27, so it’s definitely too soon to give up on him.