Stats corner: Can Pirates fix Volquez? Playoffs may depend on it
The Pirates have emerged as a sanctuary for underachieving pitchers. Once-broken starters like A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano returned to ace status thanks to PNC Park's run-smothering tendencies, strategically deployed fielders, strong-armed catchers skilled in pitch-framing and the guidance of pitching coach Ray Searage.
Over the winter, the Pirates bet $5 million — and possibly a return trip to the playoffs — on Edinson Volquez becoming Searage's next success story.
Volquez made the All-Star Game as a rookie with the Reds in 2008. He never has approached that level again, however, undergoing Tommy John surgery, battling his control and bottoming out in 2013 by posting the highest ERA (5.71) among qualified starters.
Judging by ERA alone, Volquez should be competing for a spot in Triple-A. But the Pirates are hoping the sabermetric principles that identified Burnett and Liriano as bounce-back candidates apply in Volquez's case.
Volquez's ERA should have been more than 1 1⁄2 runs lower in 2013, according to Expected Fielding Independent ERA (xFIP), which estimates a pitcher's runs allowed based on strikeouts, walks and an adjusted home run per fly ball rate. No qualified starter had a bigger ERA-xFIP split last season.
Better days ahead?
Pitcher, team ERA xFIP Diff.
Edinson Volquez, SD/LAD 5.74 4.06 1.68
Rick Porcello, Det 4.43 3.22 1.21
Edwin Jackson, ChC 4.98 3.86 1.12
Jeremy Hellickson, TB 5.24 4.17 1.07
Joe Saunders, Sea 5.26 4.23 1.03
Like Burnett and Liriano before him, Volquez struggled the year before joining the Pirates despite missing bats and inducing ground balls. All three had an ERA north of five but an xFIP around four.
Pitcher Year K/9 BB/9 GB Pct. ERA xFIP
A.J. Burnett 2011 8.2 3.9 49.2 5.15 3.86
F. Liriano 2012 9.6 5.0 43.8 5.34 4.14
E. Volquez 2013 7.5 4.1 47.6 5.71 4.07
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Kang story of the year for Pirates
- Pirates notebook: Alvarez having success looking the other way
- Pirates use big 7th inning to sweep Marlins, stretch winning streak
- Gameday: Pirates at Padres, May 28, 2015
- Pirates notebook: Struggling Polanco held out of starting lineup
- Pirates pitcher Morton turns in solid performance in win over Marlins
- Pirates notebook: Substance rule a sticky subject
- Pirates notebook: Morton’s return to Pirates means Liz leaves
- Pirates win 5th straight as offense continues to click in win over Marlins
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Marlins, May 27, 2015