Adding Jon Lester gives the Athletics a better starting rotation than the Tigers


(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

The Cold War is over, but the arms race in the American League is alive and well. The Oakland A’s acquired bona-fide playoff ace Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox, which led the Detroit Tigers to snag David Price from the Tampa bay Rays.

These two teams still lead the field in terms of chance at winning the World Series, but who has the better rotation?

Detroit boasts the last three Cy Young award winners and, as you would expect, they come out ahead in terms of overall performance the rest of the season.

OAKvsDET
2014 ZiPS rest of season projections (Source: Fangraphs)

The Tigers’ rotation is expected to go 24-16 with a 3.57 ERA, 3.73 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 3.31 Fielding Independent Pitching to go along with seven wins above replacement. Oakland’s new starting rotation should go 20-14 with a 3.74 ERA, 2.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 3.71 FIP and 4.2 WAR. Quite a difference. But, Oakland’s starters have turned in more quality performances, per Game Score.

Game score is a stat created by James to determine just how good of an outing a pitcher has had and is simple to calculate:

Start with 50 points. Add 1 point for each out recorded, (or 3 points per inning). Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th. Add 1 point for each strikeout. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed. Subtract 1 point for each walk.

On average, the new starting rotation in Oakland has been ahead of what is now found in Detroit.

But this is all on the assumption there are no injuries. If Oakland were to see one of their pitchers go down or need to be replaced based on performance, Jesse Chavez (1.7 WAR, 3.66 FIP and 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings) could step in and do reasonably well. If the Tigers suffer a similar fate, they won’t have Drew Smyly to plug the hole and instead will have to rely on Robbie Ray (0.2 WAR, 3.98 FIP, 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings) or perhaps Drew VerHagen (five innings pitched with four strikeouts in major league debut this season).

As a result, the edge has to go to Oakland.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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