Due For Some Mean Regression: Part 2
By Chris Hannum
The Indians didn’t have any right to expect much from their rotation going into 2011 – Masterson, Tomlin, Carrasco, Carmona & Talbot were all projected to put up ERAs between 4.18 and 4.45 (like Rick Porcello and Brad Penny). Carrasco and Tomlin roughly met those projections, but weren’t able to make a full 30+ starts due to injuries. Carmona didn’t get hurt, but he didn’t pitch well either. Mitch Talbot was even worse in his 12 starts. Fortunately for the Indians, Masterson made major (and somewhat unexpected) strides toward ace-hood, beating his ERA projection by more than a full run, and the Indians 6th and 7th starters – David Huff and Jeanmar Gomez made solid starts to compensate for the injuries. At mid season the Indians acquired former ace Ubaldo Jimenez in exchange for their top two pitching prospects, but he was even worse in Cleveland than he had been in the first half in Colorado. The Indians rotation in 2011 – overall – may have been slightly unlucky mostly due Jimenez. Their 2012 looks brighter, partly due to the expected development of their youngsters, partly due to a possible bounceback from Jimenez and partly due to added depth (though depth was never an issue, relative to Detroit) from Derek Lowe.
In the bullpen, the situation is turned on its head – the Indians look to have gotten very lucky indeed. Closer Chris Perez managed to keep his ERA close to his projection despite a loss of velocity and a plummeting strikeout rate. The remaining key members of the Indians bullpen – Sipp, Smith, Rafael Perez & Pestano – stayed healthy and greatly exceeded expectations. The only Indians relievers to have pitched poorly were bottom-enders Chad Durbin and Frank Herrmann. While we might expect the Indians rotation to be better next year – not based on roster movements but mean regression and return from injury – we might expect the opposite to be true for the Indians ‘pen.