The one thing we learned from this season was that the starting pitchers faced much adversary with the concept of consistency. In the thick of it though, Milwaukee Brewers’ starter Marco Estrada had one wild season.
How did Estrada’s season play into his final grade?
In 2013, Estrada had what you could classify as a bipolar season. During the first half of the season, Estrada was absolutely dreadful from April to early June sporting an ERA of 5.32 in 69.1 innings (12 starts). Then June hit and Estrada would land on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring injury that kept him out until August. Once Estrada came back, he looked like an entirely different pitcher.
Analogy wise, the best way to describe Estrada’s season is when you compare it to Spider-Man. When we’re introduced to Peter Parker, he’s kind of a shy guy who just takes photographs until one day when a spider bites him and suddenly he’s saving New York City on a daily basis as Spider-Man. It’s almost as if Estrada went through the same transformation because after his return on August 8th, he was completely lights out until the end of the season.
When Estrada came back, he posted an ERA of 2.16 in nine starts (58.2 innings), five of which he completed seven innings of work. Estrada became exactly what the Brewers had wanted all season, but got it way too late for it to matter. Regardless, Estrada’s outings were pleasant to watch as Yovani Gallardo was disappointing, Wily Peralta shifted between hot and cold and Kyle Lohse looked like the only other competent starter.
Maybe what played a role in Estrada’s beaten and bloody first half was his on-coming injury, but it also might have been his drop in velocity. Estrada saw not only a drop of velocity in his fastball (90.1 to 89.1), but a drop in his curveball (79.2 to 77.3). Perhaps the drops of velocity can be attributed to his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type season, but somehow he maintained a K/9 of 8.30.
Overall this year, Estrada salvaged 2013 in what could have been quite an awful season. His sharp second half evened out his numbers for the season, despite his blowups in the first half. Estrada was 7-4 this season with an ERA of 3.87 and a WHIP of 1.18 in 21 starts (128 innings). He also struck out 23.1 percent of the batters he faced while walking only 5.7 and hitters put up an average of .244 against him.
Heading into next year, it’ll be interesting to see where Estrada falls in the rotation. Providing that the Brewers and Estrada are able to come to terms through the arbitration process, he’s definitely someone the team will want to hold onto. Estrada may be no more than a three in a rotation given his inconsistency, but clearly he can be sharp. I’d expect the Brewers to make a deal with him because they’ll need all the help they can get for the 2014 starting rotation.
Estrada’s final grade: B-