Since the calendar has turned to March now is the time to compare personal rankings/projections with other sources. Two of the starting pitchers I’m more bullish on than everyone is Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard.
When I evaluate pitchers the three biggest data points I review are: strikeout rate, walk rate and ground ball rate. Based on Carrasco’s numbers he’s one of the best pitchers in the majors. However, there are more reasons why he’s my ninth ranked starting pitcher.
The biggest reason why I love Carrasco is the defensive upgrades on the infield. Since he strikes out so many batters he doesn’t allow many balls in-play, but when he does its usually soft contact on the ground. He had the 18th highest ground ball rate among qualified starting pitchers last year. The Indians defense improved dramatically after shortstop Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela were called up; it also does not hurt Carlos Santana will not be at first base too. After Lindor was called up Carrasco, in 17 starts, had a 3.12 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and a 31.2 percent strikeout rate. Both players will be back (Juan Uribe, another good defender at third base, could also be the starter) and he’s my dark horse for the Cy Young (if he gets lucky with wins).
If Syndergaard played a full season his 27.5 percent strikeout rate would have been the seventh best strikeout rate among qualified pitchers. Also, his 5.1 percent walk rate would tie him for the 12th lowest. Most importantly, his 14.5 percent hard hit rate would have tied him for the fifth lowest (with his teammate Matt Harvey). To recap, he’s striking out a lot of batters, he doesn’t walk batters and when hitters make contact its extremely weak. On top of that he pitches in one of the best pitcher parks in the majors.
The biggest hesitation is the Mets defense; it could be one of the worst defenses in the majors (assuming Yoenis Cespedes plays the majority of innings in center field). How many games will David Wright play? Asdrubal Cabrera is barely serviceable at shortstop. Even if Juan Lagares were the starting center fielder the outfield defense would be average. *Complete aside, but if Michael Conforto gets off to a slow start I bet the Mets send him to the minors to improve the outfield defense. I wouldn’t be surprised if Syndergaard and the other Mets starters all have ERAs much higher than their FIPs like the Indians last year.