Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
When a pitcher's ERA and FIP (fielding independent pitching) both were above 4.50 for a season, you know they flat-out stunk.
Several pitchers had that problem in 2012, including four big ones that had success in the past.
Is there hope for any of them in 2013?
Ervin Santana, Kansas City Royals - Santana went 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels last season, and his FIP was the worst in baseball at 5.63 due to a career-worst 18.9 HR/FB. The right-hander allowed 39 homers in 178 innings after giving up 26 in 228 2/3 the season before. Santana has to hope that his HR/FB rate normalizes to 10.5-11 percent 2013, but even if it does the best ERA he can hope for is something in the low to mid-fours due to middling strikeout and walk rates. He has posted a K/9 of 7.01 or lower and a BB/9 of 2.83 or higher in each of the last four seasons.
Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays - The Blue Jays allowed Romero to throw 181 innings even though he had the worst ERA among qualified pitchers in all of baseball with a 5.77 (5.14 FIP). Romero always has been a high-walk pitcher -- career 3.92 BB/9 -- but he really lost the zone in 2012 and ended up with 105 walks (5.22 BB/9). His strikeout rate also tumbled from 7.12 K/9 to 6.17 K/9. After enjoying good fortune with a .242 BABIP in 2011 that allowed him to post a .792 left-on-base percentage, Romero had a .311 BABIP and .674 LOB% in 2012. The advanced metrics show that Romero wasn't nearly as good as he seemed in 2011 -- 2.92 ERA, 4.20 FIP -- so it's not like you can point to that season as a beacon of hope. The truth is that 2011 is more of an outlier than 2012.
Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland Indians - Jimenez has thrown 365 innings with a 5.03 ERA since he won 19 games with a 2.88 ERA in 2010, and he hasn't been able to adjust to reduced velocity. His average fastball velocity was 95.8 in 2010 but just 92.5 last season, and his K/9 also declined in 2012 as he struck out 7.28 batters per nine innings (8.65 K/9 2010-11). Jimenez' walk rate skyrocketed from 3.74 in 2010-11 to 4.84 last season. Hitters easily squared up Jimenez' stuff in 2012, posting a 23.4 line-drive percentage, 10th-worst in baseball. He ended up recording the third-worst ERA in baseball with a 5.40 (5.06 FIP). Unless Jimenez rediscovers his 96-mph gas, it doesn't look good for 2013.
Derek Holland, Texas Rangers - Holland's decline from 16-5, 3.95 in 2011 to 12-7, 4.67 in 2012 was greatly tied to a spike in his HR/FB rate from 11.0 to 15.2 percent. Holland's K/9 was similar and he actually walked fewer batters per nine than 2011, but the 32 homers in 175 1/3 innings really killed him. Turning things around will be tough since he pitches half his games at Rangers Ballpark, which was the seventh-best home run park in baseball last season, according to ESPN's MLB Park Factors. Holland allowed 18 homers and had a 5.55 ERA in 94 innings at home, compared to 14 and 3.65 in 81 1/3 on the road. But he had similar splits in 2011 (4.69 home/3.39 road) and still posted an ERA south of four. Since he only needs to see better luck on fly balls to get his ERA back in the 3.90s, he has a better shot at duplicating his past success than the other pitchers on this list.