Kyle McClellan

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As detailed last week, I’ll be monitoring the competition for the fifth starter spot. Here are the ERAs for the contenders in week number two:

  • Kyle McClellan – 1.29
  • Lance Lynn – 5.14
  • Adam Ottavino – 0.00
  • Brandon Dickson – 7.50
  • Bryan Augenstein – 1.50
  • Raul Valdes – 12.00

The Cardinals threw me a curve ball by scrimmaging the Braves in a B-game on Wednesday, March 9th. Since the data from that game was not made available through Gameday, most of the players were minor leaguers, and the numbers were not even included on players’ overall stat lines at MLB.com, they aren’t represented in the graphs here either.

Derrick Goold provided us with the following numbers:

The lines for the pitchers:

Snell … 3 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 K, 2 groundouts.

Valdes … 2 IP, 1 H*, 0 BB, 0 Ks, 3 groundouts.

* Infield hit that ricocheted off of him.

Ottavino … 2 IP, 0 H, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 2 groundouts*.

* One on a bunt back to him.

Today, Strauss narrowed the competition:

La Russa initially claimed 6-7 arms were in the fifth starter competition; however, two of those, P.J. Walters and Adam Ottavino, were optioned out of major-league camp Friday. Prospect Brandon Dickson remains after laboring through a three-inning appearance March 8 against the Boston Red Sox.

That still leaves us with five of the six names we’ve been monitoring: Kyle McClellan, Lance Lynn, Brandon Dickson, Bryan Augenstein, and Raul Valdes. Since Ottavino is no longer being considered by the club, he will not appear in the graphs below. The good news is that he still has a proud mother who loves him, as evidenced by her comments in last week’s installment.

Remember, all of these numbers are subject to small sample size and not necessarily indicative of players’ true talents. All of these pitchers are pretty close together in skill, and their opportunity to win a spot in the rotation is based on a very brief window of observation. Such is the nature of Spring Training.  Onwards to the graphs…

As expected, McClellan and Lynn have received the most playing time, but Dickson and Augenstein aren’t far behind. Augenstein and Lynn are striking batters out at the highest rate, but McClellan has demonstrated impressive control by only issuing one free pass thus far.

Next, we’ll take a look at the type of contact each pitcher has allowed:

While McClellan and Dickson have really distinguished themselves by generating so many ground balls, Lynn’s GB:FB ratio doesn’t have the look of one that would turn Dave Duncan’s head (or change his mind). Augenstein certainly hasn’t embarrassed himself.

Lastly, we’ll take a look at the quality of hitters each pitcher has faced:


This graph also looks favorably upon McClellan. Not only has he faced some of the stiffest competition (second to Augenstein; although Valdes’ also has a higher percentage of major leaguers faced, he’s only thrown three innings), but he’s generated the type of batted balls aggressively endorsed by the Cardinal organization, has demonstrated the best control, and has gotten the best results. He hasn’t been shy about his intentions of winning the job. Quite frankly, he probably deserves it. There’s already indications that Mozeliak is seeking bullpen help (here and here). At this point, I think it would take a pretty monumental collapse in performance for the team do go in another direction. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if McClellan was officially declared the fifth starter before my next scheduled post.

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Andy Beard

Proud STL resident. Baseball enthusiast. Music lover. Theology thinker/reader. MA in Clinical Psych. Never met a pizza I didn't like.

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2 Responses to “Fifth Starter Competition (Week Two)”

  1. Great work breaking this down.

  2. [...] Kyle McClellan has basically won the 5th starter competition, holding off all other comers in just two weeks.  Over at Gas House Graphs, Andy takes a perfect look at visualizing what type of contact each pitcher has allowed during the spring training games. I’m not going to steal the graph, so stop by and take a look at it. [...]

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