Silva Revisited

A few weeks ago, I said this regarding Cubs pitcher Carlos Silva:

In the words of every action movie:


Silva is poised for a painful regression while Zambrano is poised for an all-smiles regression -- but now people will falsely think: "Hey, y'all, look at that! ZOMG, Lou dun fixed our angry piture!"
Usually when I quote myself, it is because: (a) I'm about to proclaim myself a prophet, or (b) I'm about to apologize for getting something wrong. Today, I think I'll take a little from column (a) and a little from column (b).

Three weeks ago, when we first discussed the Carlos Zambrano-to-the-bullpen move, I presented this chart of Carlos Silva's batted ball data, courtesy of Fangraphs:

As I noted before, Carlos Silva is a sinkerball pitcher. He needs to get a ton of ground balls to be effective. And the more fly balls he gives up, the more homers, and in turn bad outings he will have. So what has happened over these last three weeks?

He has given up fewer line drives (which is amazing!), fewer fly balls, and more ground balls. This is really a great sign. In fact, his StatCorner page reports that he's giving up 31% flies and 42% grounders, compared to the Frangpraphs-reported 36.8% grounders. So, we find the interesting possibility of misinformation in the previous Silva analysis.

HOWEVER: Carlos Silva has started four times since the move, and he has put up these inconsistent lines:

4/26:  7  IP, 3 ER, 3 SO, 1 BB (good)
5/1:   5  IP, 5 ER, 6 SO, 3 BB (bad)
5/7:   5  IP, 4 ER, 3 SO, 1 BB (ugly)*
5/12: 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 SO, 2 BB (good)

*I call this ugly because, in all fairness, it's not terrible. It's sub-optimal, but survivable.

So was I right? Did Silva improve? Let's first look into the specifics behind those previous batted ball charts:

More specifically, we must investigate these:

Silva has had a handful of really great, just-what-we-expect-from-a-good-sinkerball-pitcher type games, but the majority of his starts have been red flags. Red flags of future failure. When we last looked a Silva, I warned of his xFIP, which was worse than Carlos Zambrano's. This has not changed, it's only gotten worse(Silva xFIP 4.25 vs. Z's 3.42).

In other areas, though, Carlos Silva continues to exceed my expectations. He is getting a lot of swinging strikes, which has resulted in a career high K/9. Also, the really low line drive rate is very good -- maybe unsustainable, but very good.

All in all, I'm still HIGHLY in the PUT IT BACK!!! PUT IT BACK!!! opinion. Carlos Silva can be a decent starter for us (his pace of wins will fall off, for sure though), but he is in no way superior to Carlos Zambrano. In economic terms, we have an accounting profit from Silva, but an economic loss -- as long as Zambrano is wasted in the 8th inning*.

*Esmailin Caridad anyone?

Note: While I was working on this, Pitch F/X genius Harry Pavlidis looks at those increased whiffs. Apparently, it's trending downwards:

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