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Pitchers Advanced Metrics Leaders for xERA- Statcast Studs and Duds (Week 7)

Garrett Crochet - Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups, Closers and Saves

Welcome to another edition of RotoBaller’s Statcast Pitcher Studs and Duds article series for the 2024 season! Each week, I will select one stat, choose a few pitchers with strong metrics and poor metrics, and analyze them to determine how their future performance may change. There are many ERA skill indicator metrics that fantasy managers can use to understand how pitchers are performing beyond their peripherals. I wrote about SIERA last week, and I will write about expected ERA (xERA) this week.

xERA is a 1:1 translation of the Expected Weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA) converted to the ERA scale. Like SIERA, xwOBA takes into account the amount of contact and the quality of contact a pitcher allows in an attempt to credit them for the moment of contact. Unlike SIERA, xwOBA/xERA does not factor in ballpark conditions.

SIERA and xERA may be similar, but both are useful for fantasy managers. With over a month of data, fantasy managers have enough data to consider buy-low and sell-high targets. With that, let's dive into some xERA Studs and Duds!

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

xERA Studs for Fantasy Baseball

All stats are current as of Sunday morning, May 5, 2024.

Tarik Skubal, Detroit Tigers

4-0, 1.72 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 2.19 xERA

Despite enduring injuries, Tarik Skubal has improved each of the last two seasons and has become a higher-end fantasy pitcher. That trend has continued in 2024, as the 27-year-old is 4-0 with a 1.72 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, and 29.7% strikeout rate. His 2.19 xERA is one of the lowest among qualified pitchers. Can Skubal continue to work his way to an ace-tier fantasy option?

The most notable change from 2023 to 2024 is Skubal's avoidance of hard contact. His average exit velocity dropped from 89.3 MPH in 2022 to 88.5 MPH in 2023. He has made a greater leap in 2024, with an exit velocity of just 85.8 MPH. His hard-hit rate has followed a similar pattern, and both metrics are in the top 15% of baseball.

Skubal's dip in hard hits has positively impacted his BABIP. Skubal's career mark is .279, but his current mark is a career-low .219. Skubal's strikeout rate is only slightly lower than his 2023 mark and his contact rate is slightly higher. His pitch profiles are also similar, so I am not sure that his vast improvements will persist.

However, Skubal has done everything needed to vault himself into the top tier of fantasy pitchers. He may not finish with a sub-2.00 ERA, but his xERA still suggests excellent results.

Garrett Crochet, Miami Marlins

1-4, 5.97 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 2.47 xERA

Garrett Crochet started the season with a lot of buzz, and while he started well, his 1-4 record and 5.97 ERA leave a lot to be desired. The good news is that his 2.47 xERA is much better than his ERA and is one of the best in baseball. Could Crochet be a buy-low candidate?

Crochet's pitch arsenal presents a strong strikeout package, which is reflected in his low 71.7% contact rate. The tricky thing is that the contact he has allowed is confounding.

Crochet's average exit velocity is in the 70th percentile of baseball, but his hard-hit rate is in the 26th. To me, this indicates that he either allows very weak or very hard contact. His 14.6-degree launch angle is not a good pairing with the hard-hit balls, as his HR/FB rate is a poor 18.9% and his HR/9 rate sits at 1.82.

The main culprit behind the HR has been his slider, which he has actually located down-and-in to right-handed hitters despite allowing a 19-degree launch angle.

Crochet's peripherals are not good and he has a poor offense backing him. However, he has shown immense strikeout upside and has had unusual HR results despite a decent overall batted-ball profile. All the evidence points to Crochet being a worthy buy-low candidate at this time.

 

xERA Duds for Fantasy Baseball

All stats are current as of Sunday morning, May 5, 2024.

Dane Dunning, Texas Rangers

3-2, 4.10 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 5.93 xERA

Dane Dunning has been a serviceable fantasy pitcher throughout his career and is off to a decent start in 2024 with a 4.10 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 28.1% strikeout rate in seven starts. His 5.93 xERA tells a different story and is one of the highest among qualified pitchers. Should fantasy managers be concerned?

Dunning's batted-ball profile leaves a lot to be desired. His average exit velocity and hard-hit rate are both in the bottom 10% of baseball and his 11.0-degree launch angle is middling for being a sinker-ball pitcher. Consequently, he has a 20.6% HR/FB rate. Despite this, he has gotten very lucky on balls in play with a .229 BABIP, which is very low in general and is lower than his career .301 mark.

He has seen an early jump in strikeouts and a jump in walks. Dunning's 28.1% strikeout rate and 11.1% walk rate are both career highs. He has traditionally pitched to contact and has done a pretty good job eliminating walks, so I am not ready to buy into either of these metrics.

Dunning's peripherals align with his career averages, but there is a lot under the hood to suggest he has been overperforming. He has allowed a lot of hard contact in the air but has seen little damage on balls in play, and his strikeouts have taken a big jump without explanation. I would prefer to not have to rely on Dunning in fantasy leagues if possible.

Colin Rea, Milwaukee Brewers

3-0, 2.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 5.74 xERA

Colin Rea was streamable at times last season and has gotten great results in his six starts in 2024 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 16.0% strikeout rate. His 5.74 xERA is much higher than his ERA and is one of the highest in baseball. Are Rea's current peripherals too good to be true?

Simply put, yes they are. Rea relies mainly on three different types of fastballs, none of which are overpowering or located well. His Statcast page is mostly blue, including hard-hit metrics. His lack of strikeout upside eliminates a potential redeeming fantasy factor.

As evidenced by his Statcast profile, the run value of his pitching has been high despite low underlying metrics. I would call Rea a sell-high candidate, although I'm not sure fantasy managers are interested in him. I would jump at the opportunity for any who are, but otherwise, I would pitch Rea only in favorable matchups until regression starts to hit.



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