Brewers: Are 2021 Starting Pitcher Stat Projections “Fair” or “Foul?”

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 30: Brandon Woodruff #42 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on August 30, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, which was postponed April 15 due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 30: Brandon Woodruff #42 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park on August 30, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. All players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, which was postponed April 15 due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 14: Corbin Burnes #39 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during game two of a doubleheader at Miller Park on September 14, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Corbin Burnes

Projection: 8-6 / 4.35 ERA / 120.0 IP / 1.292 WHIP / 11.1 K/9

Ruling: Headed back toward the Press Box WAY FOUL

Surely they put Corbin Burnes’ name here when it was supposed to be someone else, right? If not, the disrespect is real. He is one of the best up-and-coming pitchers in the game, finishing sixth in last year’s Cy Young voting and now is projected to have stats like an average number three starter somewhere?

Give me a break. I understand the argument on the grounds of sample size and coming off an injury, but really? An ERA increase of 2.24? That jump alone is higher than his ERA last season.

This very well might be the worst projection out of the entire series when it’s all said and done. The next biggest dispute I have with this fallacy is only 120.0 innings pitched. He’s recovered from the oblique injury that kept him from pitching in the Wild Card series against the Dodgers in the 2020 postseason and he’s looked like his dominant self this spring.

Through his first three games for the Brewers, Burnes has pitched 6.2 innings and has surrendered just two hits and two walks with eleven strikeouts to boot. Given he can stay healthy I see him hovering around the 170 mark, alongside Woodruff.

To cap this off, a WHIP of almost 1.3 seems far too high as I think he’ll work on getting that BB/9 of 3.6 down. The only thing in this projection that I can somewhat see happening is the 11.1 K/9. Last year he had an astronomical 13.3 K/9 rate, which would’ve been third most in the entire MLB had he logged enough innings to qualify. This season, I could see that dropping a bit but maybe not that much. Here’s my projection for Burnes: 10-5, 168.0 IP, 2.57 ERA, 1.071 WHIP, 11.7 K/9.

Brett Anderson

Projection: 10-9 / 4.28 ERA / 141.0 IP / 1.319 WHIP / 6.4 K/9

Ruling: Fair

THEY PREDICT BRETT ANDERSON TO HAVE A LOWER ERA THAN CORBIN BURNES? Sorry…..I digress. This is finally back on track, I agree with this one. I don’t think any of the remaining three starters will have “bad” years by any means.

Brett Anderson is a pro’s pro that’s been in the league for a while and knows how he can have success and that’s getting ground balls. Back in 2019, Anderson led the MLB in ground ball outs with 269 and he went 13-9 that year in Oakland. Last year he had the highest ground ball percentage in a season (59.6%) since 2015.

In terms of the projections themselves, if he can get up to 10 wins that would be great, but wins don’t necessarily always do a great job of displaying how they did. A 4.28 ERA is almost exactly identical to his 2020 campaign where he had a 4.21 and he hasn’t been higher than 4.50 since 2017 so I have no reason to believe he’ll be much worse this coming year.

The innings seem accurate and K/9 look to be on par as well as he has some of the lowest strikeout numbers in the MLB. Lastly, his WHIP is very similar to his career one of 1.332, so there’s no disagreement there either. Much better, Baseball Reference.

Having had injuries with his shoulder, elbow, feet and fingers over the years, including a blister issue that flared up both at the beginning and at the end of last season, I just hope he can stay healthy. Because if he can, I believe he can contribute to this rotation.

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