2013 stat projections: Pitchers

2013 stat projections: Pitchers
January 4, 2013, 9:30 am

Yesterday, we looked at a couple of stat prediction models for the Nationals' lineup and bench. Today, we turn to the Nats' pitching staff, using those same models' projections.

Bill James, the original sabermetrician, and Dan Szymborski, who developed the ZiPS formula used on Fangraphs.com, each have some interesting takes on how members of the Nationals pitching staff might perform in 2013. What was one of baseball's best staffs last season figures to be just as strong (if not stronger) this season.

Before we get to the numbers, a brief word: I know not everyone out there enjoys these projections and doesn't like to put more stock in mathematical formulas than what can be seen with your own eyes. I fully appreciate that. And honestly, I stand on that side of the fence, too, more often than not. But there is actual science behind these projections, and while they're never all going to come true, I do think there's value in at least taking a look at them.

OK, here's what the James and ZiPS models show for the Nationals' pitching staff in 2013...

STEPHEN STRASBURG    GS   IP  BB   SO   ERA
2012 Actual          28  159  48  197  3.16
2013 James           32  208  57  255  2.68
2013 ZiPS            24  137  35  164  2.69
COMMENT: Because Strasburg has never pitched a full big-league season, the ZiPS formula won't project he does it in 2013. But obviously everyone agrees the right-hander should continue to dominate this year, no matter how many games he actually starts.

GIO GONZALEZ         GS   IP  BB   SO   ERA
2012 Actual          32  199  76  207  2.89
2013 James           32  202  83  204  3.21
2013 ZiPS            32  200  76  200  3.02
COMMENT: Neither James nor ZiPS seems to think last season was a fluke for Gonzalez. His ERA may rise a tad, but he'll continue to strike out at least one batter per inning while issuing a walk roughly in one out of three innings.

JORDAN ZIMMERMANN    GS   IP  BB   SO   ERA
2012 Actual          32  196  43  153  2.94
2013 James           31  190  41  157  3.32
2013 ZiPS            26  153  33  119  3.42
COMMENT: As was the case with Strasburg, ZiPS is less sure about Zimmermann's ability to pitch straight through a full season (mostly because he never had prior to 2012). Both models still project a consistent, high-quality performance from the right-hander.

DAN HAREN            GS   IP  BB   SO   ERA
2012 Actual          30  177  38  142  4.33
2013 James           34  218  41  186  3.47
2013 ZiPS            29  187  37  151  3.91
COMMENT: Was last season the start of a downward trend for Haren, or was it a blip caused by a bad back and hip? James seems to believe it was a blip and that the right-hander can return to near-peak form. The Nationals would love for that to prove true.

ROSS DETWILER        GS   IP  BB   SO   ERA
2012 Actual          27  164  52  105  3.40
2013 James           30  183  61  124  3.98
2013 ZiPS            23  130  43   84  4.07
COMMENT: Detwiler's lack of track record hurts him and leaves both models skeptical about his ability to either duplicate or exceed his 2012 breakthrough. The way he pitched, especially down the stretch and in the playoffs, certainly suggests the best is still yet to come.

DREW STOREN           G   IP  BB   SO   ERA
2012 Actual          37   30   8   24  2.37
2013 James           61   54  16   50  2.50
2013 ZiPS            59   56  17   52  3.20
COMMENT: The key for Storen is his ability not to strike out a good number of batters without issuing many walks (something, obviously, he didn't do well in Game 5 of the NLDS). These projections believe he'll return to his top form.

TYLER CLIPPARD        G   IP  BB   SO   ERA
2012 Actual          74   73  29   84  3.72
2013 James           73   74  27   77  3.04
2013 ZiPS            74   79  30   95  2.96
COMMENT: After a bit of an up-and-down season, Clippard should enter 2013 knowing his role as Storen's top setup man. And both projections believe he'll perform up to his usual, lofty standards.

CRAIG STAMMEN         G   IP  BB   SO   ERA
2012 Actual          59   88  36   87  2.34
2013 James           59   90  32   67  4.30
2013 ZiPS            57   83  35   83  3.24
COMMENT: Stammen had never spent a full season as a big-league reliever prior to a stellar 2012, so it's tougher to project what happens in 2013. James doesn't think he can keep it up (especially his high strikeout rate). ZiPS has more confidence of a repeat performance.

RYAN MATTHEUS         G   IP  BB   SO   ERA
2012 Actual          66   66  19   41  2.85
2013 James           75   78  26   56  3.46
2013 ZiPS            51   49  18   35  4.22
COMMENT: Pretty much the complete opposite of Stammen. James like Mattheus' chances of picking up where he left off last season, while ZiPS has little confidence in the right-hander.

NOTE: James didn't release projections for any other Nationals relievers, including Henry Rodriguez, Christian Garcia and Zach Duke.