Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Performance with runners on base can make or break a pitcher's season.
Baltimore Orioles starter Chris Tillman has a 1.35 WHIP and has given up 20 homers this season, but his strand rate (LOB%) is 82.4 percent, third highest in baseball. Just five of his 20 homer runs allowed came with men on base, so his ERA is 3.95.
Likewise, pitchers who frequently struggle with runners on base will see their ERA soar, even as their fielding-independent pitching (FIP) remains low.
Below, we examine the pitchers with the five worst strand rates in the majors and predict whether they'll experience a turnaround this season.
Wily Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers - LOB%: 62.2 - Even after throwing his first career shutout in his last start, Peralta still has a 4.82 ERA this season. The right-hander's biggest issue has been giving up the longball at the wrong time. He has served up six homers with men on base, including three two-run shots, two three-run blasts and a grand slam. Peralta only has given up 10 home runs all season and has a 52.8 percent groundball rate, so this should be something he can remedy in the second half. VERDICT: Stock rising
Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs - LOB%: 62.3 - Fantasy owners should strongly consider buying Jackson now, as he's due for a nice second half. The right- hander has been one of the most unfortunate pitchers in the league this season, especially with runners in scoring position (RISP). Jackson has a career-high 52.4 percent groundball rate overall with a 53.8 percent groundball rate and a stellar 18.7 percent line-drive rate with RISP. However, his BABIP is those situations is .330. Jackson's ERA of 5.11 is 1.39 higher than his FIP. VERDICT: Stock rising
Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants - LOB%: 63.4 - Cain is deserving of his .325 BABIP with RISP, as he has a 29.6 percent line-drive rate in those situations. The right-hander also has given up 10 doubles, a triple and eight home runs with men on base. For his career, Cain has a 19.1 percent LD rate and a .247 BABIP in his career with RISP, and he has surrendered just 57 home runs with men on base during his time in the majors, so fantasy owners just have to hope he can revert to form. However, Cain's struggles have not been limited to situations with men on base -- he has a career-worst 1.29 HR/9 and his 2.97 BB/9 is his worst since 2009. VERDICT: Stock falling
Rick Porcello, Detroit Tigers - LOB% 65.4 - With a little luck, Porcello finally could be earning the respect of the fantasy community, as he has a career bests with a 7.25 K/9, a 1.72 BB/9 and a 3.53 FIP. However, with his strand rate so low, his ERA is just 4.80. Porcello has struggled his entire career with men on base, posting a 68.9 percent career LOB%, but this season it hasn't been his fault. The Detroit pitcher only has given up line drives at an 18.3 percent rate with RISP, but his BABIP is .394 in those situations. He has allowed six homers with men on base and 11 overall, but he has let just four balls leave the park in his last nine starts. VERDICT: Stock rising
Edinson Volquez, San Diego Padres - LOB% 65.5 - For a guy who walks more than 4.00 batters per nine innings, a 65.5 percent strand rate is absolutely devastating and is the reason behind Volquez' 5.33 ERA, which is 1.46 higher than his FIP. Volquez has pitched pretty well with RISP and been slightly unlucky in those situations -- 19.8 percent line-drive rate, .313 BABIP -- but he has been bombed overall with men on base, allowing a 25.5 percent line-drive rate, 18 doubles, three triples and five homers. VERDICT: Stock falling
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