In 2016, it looked like the Milwaukee Brewers had uncovered a new ace: Junior Guerra. 2016 represented a breakout season for Guerra that no one expected. He was able to maintain a 2.81 ERA over 121+ innings, while striking out 100 batters. Even though his season ended early because of injury, it was still an excellent year.
Coming into 2017, expectations were very high for Junior Guerra. The Milwaukee Brewers named him the Opening Day starter. He earned the respect he lacked in the first 11 years of his career. Unfortunately, things have gone poorly from day one for Junior Guerra. Guerra came down with a calf strain running out a bunt and missed over a month of action.
Since his return, Guerra’s results have appeared good, but a look deeper reveals that trouble may be brewing. In 2016, Guerra had a 7.4 K/9, which is solid for a starting pitcher. In 2017, it has dropped to 6.0.
In 2016, Guerra posted a 3.2 K/9. In 2017, it has risen to 4.8.
Both of these stats are alarming, and point to struggles in the future. Before his start on June 21st, Guerra’s ERA was 2.84, but his FIP, an advanced metric which stands for fielding independent pitching, is 6.06. FIP measures what a pitcher is responsible for, independent of the players in the field.
Last season, Guerra’s FIP was 3.70. For reference, if Guerra had enough innings to qualify, he would have the third worst FIP in baseball.
All of these stats suggest that Guerra will likely see regression in his ERA in the near future. In actuality, Guerra may just be facing the regression he never saw last year. After all, he didn’t break through into the Major League level until his age 31 season for a reason.
There is also the possibility that Guerra is pressing too hard to throw strikes because he came back too quickly from injury. Astute fans should watch to see if his fastball shows decreased velocity, because this could be a sign that he isn’t fully healthy.