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Baseball Nerdology, Part Two: A look at LSU’s pitching staff using sabermetrics

Using advanced pitching metrics, we will take a look at how LSU’s starting rotation and bullpen have done on the mound.

Syndication: The Daily Advertiser
LSU starting pitcher Paul Skenes winding up for a pitch in LSU’s 12-2 victory over Butler on March 3.

DISCLAIMER: These numbers were calculated after last Sunday’s game against Ole Miss and before Tuesday night’s game.

After receiving a lot of great feedback from Baseball Nerdology, Part One, I have decided to do another article on math. Seriously, I hate all of you.

But in all seriousness, instead of doing batting sabermetrics, I will be doing pitching sabermetrics. Look, I hate sequels okay. The reason why I hate sequels is because they are usually money grabs. There are only a few excellent sequels, such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and of course, The Godfather Part II.

My sequel to Baseball Nerdology, Part One is nothing close to either of those films. However, it will be pretty damn good.

I think anyone who is reading this right now has common knowledge of the two most prevalent averaging statistics used for pitching: earned run average (ERA) and walks-hits per inning pitched (WHIP).

Earned run average is the number of earned runs a pitcher allows multiplied by their innings pitched, then multiplied by nine innings

ERA: 9 X Earned Runs X Innings Pitched

However, there is an advanced pitching metric that is picking up steam in the baseball analytics community: field-independent pitching, or FIP. FIP excludes anything that involves what the other players on the field because it only factors in on what the pitcher can control. That means strikeouts, walks, hit-by-pitches and home runs are the only events that can affect FIP.

Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) Formula

13(Home Runs) + 3(Hit by pitch+Walks) - 2(Strikeouts) / Innings Pitched + FIP Constant

Estimated SEC FIP Constant= 3.5

It’s kind of difficult to come up with the FIP constant, so I used a FIP constant of 3.5. I used 3.5 because of the difficulty and because the MLB average constant is about 3.2. Given that it is harder to hit off of pitchers in the majors, I slightly adjusted the FIP constant to the college game.

Starting Pitchers

Let’s look at how some of LSU’s starting pitchers did this year, and when I mean starting pitchers, I mean pitchers who have earned a start this year. The pitchers who fit these criteria are Paul Skenes, Ty Floyd, Christian Little, Thatcher Hurd, Riley Cooper and Chase Shores.

Let’s take a look at Paul Skenes because this dude is from Mars. Skenes leads all starters in FIP, walks per nine innings, strikeouts per nine innings and strikeouts per nine innings. Skenes has a 0.93 FIP, which is incredible considering that no other pitcher has under a 2.37 FIP, whether it is in the starting rotation or the bullpen.

Ty Floyd’s FIP is the highest among the starters, which may shock some people, including me. A part of the reason why Floyd has such a high FIP is because of the number of runs he allows early on in games. Floyd’s problem all year is that he has started slowly in his starts and the fact that he has allowed the most home runs among the starters. Although he has not lost a single SEC contest, Floyd needs to start firing from the get-go to lower his FIP and also to give LSU’s bullpen more breathing room.

Another player with an interesting stat line is Thatcher Hurd. Although he has a lot of potential to be one of the best pitchers in the SEC, Hurd has struggled with his control. Despite having the second-best strikeout per nine innings rating with 12.36, he has the worst walks per nine innings among the starters with a rating of 7.90. Fortunately for LSU, Hurd had an impressive five-strikeout performance against Nicholls on Tuesday night.

The Bullpen

Although the bullpen has been suspect at times, that doesn’t they haven’t had some studs. The relievers I decided to look at were Nate Ackenhausen, Garrett Edwards, Herring, Gavin Guidry and Bryce Collins.

In looking at advanced metrics, Edwards has been the best pitcher so far as he leads the bullpen in strikeouts per walk, walks per nine innings and FIP. His FIP is 2.37, which is the second-best among the staff behind Skenes. Another impressive stat is that averages 1.95 walks per nine innings, which is also second among the staff =, only behind Skenes.

Guidry and Herring, who both are true freshmen, have been outstanding coming out of the bullpen. Guidry and Herring are both usually brought out of the bullpen to finish the game, which shows you how composed these two are as freshmen.

Guidry leads the bullpen with an astronomical 14 strikeouts per nine innings, which again is only behind Skenes among the pitching staff. Guidry also has a FIP of 2.39, which is second among the bullpen behind Edwards.

Although Herring’s stat line doesn’t look like anything special, he’s only a true freshman and has an ERA of 2.16. Herring doesn’t do anything spectacular, but he’s reliable and will get people out.