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The WAR Room: 2014 Columbus pitchers season in review

Major league-ready arms headline the Clippers' pitching staff

The WAR Room: 2014 Columbus pitchers season in review
The WAR Room (Graphic courtesy of Brittany Chay)
October 19, 2014
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The WAR Room is back again, bringing you the 2014 advanced stats for every Cleveland minor leaguer. With the minor league seasons at an end, we continue bringing you seasons in review, with today's featuring the 2014 Columbus Clippers pitchers.

The list of previous season in reviews are below:

Of course, it is always important to keep context in mind, just like with scouting. A pitcher who is old for his level using that experience to succeed against young, inexperienced hitters must be taken with a grain of salt; the same goes when looking at these WAR totals.

But it is a useful tool to put each player's performance into context and look at where they sit in regard to the rest of the league.

For reference on how I computed WAR, a reminder on the problems inherent in the stats, and everything else you need to know, click here. For a refresher on WAR and what it is, click here.

As a reminder, a 0.0 WAR per 162 games is replacement level -- otherwise known as the kind of performance an average player from the level below could offer -- a 2.0 WAR per 162 games is average, and a 5.0 WAR per 162 games is All-Star level.

Also note that pitchers have FIP-based WAR -- which is based on peripherals like strikeouts, walks, home runs, etc. -- and RA-based WAR -- which is based on runs allowed.

One more thing, all "+" stats are averaged at 100. Anything over 100, like 110, is higher and means that player is 10 percent better than the league average. Anything under 100, like 90, is lower and means that player is 10 percent worse than the league average. In the case of any "-" stats -- when lower is better, like with ERA -- a 90 ERA- means that player is 10 percent better than the league average.

Today we begin our look at the Columbus Clippers with the pitchers before moving to the hitters next week. For the full stats, go ahead and click here.

Zach McAllister Indians (AAA) 26 69.0 1.9 2.8
Kyle Davies Indians (AAA) 30 124.2 1.7 1.4
Travis Banwart Indians (AAA) 28 89.1 1.2 2.6
T.J. House Indians (AAA) 24 57.0 1.1 1.2
Tyler Cloyd Indians (AAA) 27 166.2 1.1 2.8
Danny Salazar Indians (AAA) 24 60.2 1.0 1.0
Trevor Bauer Indians (AAA) 23 46.0 0.7 2.1
Gabriel Arias Indians (AAA) 24 80.1 0.7 0.3
Josh Tomlin Indians (AAA) 29 40.0 0.5 1.7
Nick Maronde Indians (AAA) 24 6.0 0.3 0.5
Brett Brach Indians (AAA) 26 6.2 0.2 -0.4
Justin Masterson Indians (AAA) 29 11.2 0.2 0.0
Jordan Cooper Indians (AAA) 25 7.1 0.0 0.1
Duke von Schamann Indians (AAA) 23 9.2 -0.1 -0.1
Toru Murata Indians (AAA) 29 72.0 -0.4 0.2


Mike Zagurski Indians (AAA)/O 31 60.2 1.4 1.7
Vinnie Pestano Indians (AAA) 29 30.1 0.8 0.9
C.C. Lee Indians (AAA) 27 30.0 0.7 0.4
Austin Adams Indians (AAA) 27 54.0 0.7 1.4
Mark Lowe Indians (AAA) 31 41.2 0.3 -0.6
Kyle Crockett Indians (AAA) 22 8.2 0.2 0.0
Bryan Price Indians (AAA) 27 26.1 0.1 0.6
Tyler Sturdevant Indians (AAA) 28 26.2 0.1 0.1
Scott Barnes Indians (AAA) 26 31.2 0.1 0.3
Josh Outman Indians (AAA) 29 22.1 0.1 0.0
Nick Hagadone Indians (AAA) 28 28.2 0.1 -0.1
Adam Miller Indians (AAA) 29 1.0 0.1 0.1
Shaun Marcum Indians (AAA) 32 15.1 0.0 0.3
Elliot Johnson Indians (AAA) 30 0.2 0.0 0.0
Enosil Tejeda Indians (AAA) 25 1.0 0.0 0.1
Shawn Armstrong Indians (AAA) 23 5.0 -0.1 0.0
Blake Wood Indians (AAA) 28 8.0 -0.1 0.1
J.C. Ramirez Indians (AAA) 25 31.1 -0.5 0.1
Benny Suarez Indians (AAA) 22 2.1 -0.5 -0.6
Frank Herrmann Indians (AAA) 30 29.2 -0.5 -0.6

Notable Starters

Zach McAllister (Photo: MiLB)Though he only threw 69.0 innings in Triple-A, right-hander Zach McAllister made quite an impression. By putting up 1.9 FIP-based WAR and 2.8 RA-based WAR in that time, the 26-year-old showed an ability to pitch at an MVP level against Triple-A opposition. Given McAllister’s 5.23 ERA in 86.0 major league innings, his Triple-A dominance seems useless, but the right-hander pitched much better according to his peripherals. Combining McAllister’s Triple-A stats with his 3.45 FIP and 3.84 xFIP in the majors paints a picture of a pitcher primed to rebound in 2015. Cleveland’s starting rotation seems to be set without McAllister right now, but it would not surprise me to see him win a spot and turn some heads.

Right-hander Tyler Cloyd’s season was highlighted by his no-hitter, but his other 157.2 innings were not that bad either. Judging Cloyd by his 3.89 ERA (96 ERA-) and 2.8 RA-based WAR, Cloyd was an above-average Triple-A starter and decent depth option for the major league team. Cloyd’s 4.62 FIP (114 FIP-) and 1.1 FIP-based WAR, however, put the 27-year-old as below-average. His FIP is hurt by his 1.4 HR/9 (183 HR/9+), though that is also probably a byproduct of Cloyd not missing many bats. The right-hander is not a breathtaking starting pitcher, but he is still a useful guy to have as depth.

Another depth arm Cleveland kept in the minor leagues all year was right-hander Kyle Davies, who put up a solid 1.7 FIP-based WAR and 1.4 RA-based WAR in 124.2 Triple-A innings. Like Cloyd, Davies is another pitch-to-contact type, posting a 15.3 percent strikeout rate (79 K%+) and 6.3 percent walk rate (71 BB%+). An average level of production in Triple-A obviously does not pound down the door for a major league spot, but Davies was still a good pitcher to have just in case. As to whether Davies will stick around in the Cleveland organization or look elsewhere will be determined in the future, but the organization would almost certainly like him back.

Though he was relatively unknown coming into the organization this offseason, right-hander Gabriel Arias showed something in his first time pitching in Triple-A. After spending his entire professional career in High-A or lower, Arias threw both in Columbus and Akron in 2014, with the 24-year-old posting a decent 0.7 FIP-based WAR and 0.3 RA-based WAR in 80.1 Triple-A innings. Though that is a below-average rate, given Arias jumped so many levels last year, it is more acceptable. Arias will naturally need to continue to grow and improve, but the early returns on his Triple-A experience are good.

Notable Relievers

C.C. Lee (Photo: ESPN)The transition to the major leagues has not gone smoothly for right-hander C.C. Lee, but the soon-to-be 28-year-old is clearly beyond the challenge of Triple-A. After putting up 0.7 FIP-based WAR and 0.4 RA-based WAR in 30.0 Triple-A innings, Lee looks like someone who should be in Cleveland long-term. He can strike hitters out (29.1 percent strikeout rate, 150 K%+), does not walk many (7.1 percent walk rate, 80 BB%+), and while it has not come out in the majors yet, it seems like it should get there in time.

Like Lee, right-hander Austin Adams has not pitched well in the majors yet, but his 0.7 FIP-based WAR and 1.4 RA-based WAR in 54.0 Triple-A innings points to better things to come. The recently-turned 28-year-old is another pitcher who can make hitters whiff (24.3 percent strikeout rate, 125 K%+) and throw the ball over the plate (7.5 percent walk rate, 85 BB%+), making Adams yet another bullpen arm who deserves a chance in Cleveland. That depth will make it hard for Adams to crack the opening day bullpen, but he should definitely get a chance at some point in 2015.

Left-hander Nick Hagadone had a bit of a breakout season at the major league level, but you never would have seen it coming from his time in Triple-A. The 28-year-old was basically replacement level in 28.2 Triple-A innings, posting 0.1 FIP-based WAR and -0.1 RA-based WAR, but the signs of a breakout were there. Both Hagadone’s FIP and ERA were inflated by his 1.6 HR/9 (205 HR/9+) in Huntington Park, and when that home run rate came down a bit in Cleveland, the elite strikeout ability he showed in Columbus (33.6 percent strikeout rate, 173 K%+) shined through and helped him establish himself at the major league level.

Furthering the point that Cleveland has a ton of right-handed relief depth in the minors, right-hander Bryan Price made his major league debut in 2014, tossing 2.2 innings. Price will probably need more time in Triple-A to develop further, as evidenced by his 3.85 FIP (95 FIP-) and 0.1 FIP-based WAR in 26.1 Columbus innings, but the talent is there. The 27-year-old can strike hitters out like Lee and Adams (26.2 percent strikeout rate, 135 K%+), and while he is still working on bringing down his 9.4 percent walk rate (106 BB%+), the potential is definitely there for the right-hander.

Quick Hits

T.J. House (Photo: MiLB)A host of major league starters spent some time with the Clippers. Left-hander T.J. House previewed his breakout at the major league with 1.1 FIP-based WAR and 1.2 RA-based WAR in 57.0 Triple-A innings, as did right-hander Trevor Bauer with his 0.7 FIP-based WAR and 2.1 RA-based WAR in 46.0 innings. Neither started the season in Cleveland, yet both now look like rotation mainstays for years to come. Right-hander Josh Tomlin also pitched well in Triple-A, posting 0.5 FIP-based WAR and 1.7 RA-based WAR in 40.0 innings, though he does not look likely to stick in the rotation in 2015.

Unlike House, Bauer, and Tomlin, right-hander Danny Salazar was sent down to Columbus after starting the season in Cleveland. Salazar’s time in Triple-A was simply above-average, but while his 1.0 FIP-based WAR and 1.0 RA-based WAR in 60.2 innings was not outstanding, he did get back on track after a rough start to the season.

A trio of Columbus relievers put up similarly replacement level performances in 2014, with right-hander Tyler Sturdevant (0.1 FIP-based WAR, 0.1 RA-based WAR in 26.1 innings), left-hander Scott Barnes (0.1 FIP-based WAR, 0.3 RA-based WAR in 31.2 innings), and left-hander Josh Outman (0.1 FIP-based WAR, 0.0 RA-based WAR in 22.1 innings) all falling below the level of performance of the four relievers highlighted in the Notable Relievers section. They all still have upside, however, though Outman will try to reach that level with a different organization after being traded in late-August.

Right-hander Vinnie Pestano struggled in the major leagues and found himself traded midseason, but the 29-year-old did pitch well in Triple-A. Given his 0.8 FIP-based WAR and 0.9 RA-based WAR in 30.1 innings in Columbus, Pestano is a decent buy-low for the Angels despite his issues over the last two seasons.

There was some hope going into the 2014 season that right-hander Shaun Marcum could become Scott Kazmir 2.0, but injuries held him back and only allowed him to throw 15.1 innings in Triple-A. Marcum posted 0.0 FIP-based WAR and 0.3 RA-based WAR in that time, though with that few innings immediately after coming off an injury, the performance probably does not predict much of anything.

Judging right-hander Mark Lowe by his 5.62 ERA (139 ERA-) and -0.6 RA-based WAR in 41.2 Triple-A innings, it is easy to see why the 31-year-old did not last in Cleveland. Looking at Lowe’s 3.65 FIP and 0.3 FIP-based WAR, however, do paint a better picture for the right-hander heading forward.

Right-hander Travis Banwart was pitching well in Columbus, putting up 1.2 FIP-based WAR and 2.6 RA-based WAR in 89.1 innings, but spending his fifth full season in Triple-A without a clear path to the major leagues, the 28-year-old left the team to sign with a South Korean team in July.

Combining left-hander Mike Zagurski’s time with Toronto’s Triple-A team, the 31-year-old easily led Columbus’ relievers with 1.4 FIP-based WAR and 1.7 RA-based WAR in 60.2 innings. Despite pitching very well and striking out 33.1 percent of batters (171 K%+), however, Zagurski did not get a callup to the majors.

Right-hander Frank Herrmann had some decent seasons with the major league club, but after missing all of 2013 and stumbling to a sub-replacement level -0.5 FIP-based WAR and -0.6 RA-based WAR in 29.2 innings in 2014, the organization released him in August.

Another player the organization brought in for 2014 was right-hander J.C. Ramirez, who pitched well at Double-A before struggling at Triple-A. The right-hander could still be an interesting bullpen arm, but he will need to improve upon his -0.5 FIP-based WAR and 0.1 RA-based WAR in 31.1 Triple-A innings.

While bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A, right-hander Toru Murata continued to fill in where needed. The 29-year-old was fairly unremarkable in his 72.0 Triple-A innings, with -0.4 FIP-based WAR and 0.2 RA-based WAR, but most importantly, he was a flexible arm that kept the Clippers’ pitching staff running smoothly throughout the season.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

October 20, 2014 - 12:10 AM EDT
The Indians still view McAllister as a starter and rightfully so. He's out of options so probably makes the team as a long man next year, but will be stretched out and built up in spring training to start and be their 6th starter next season. Tomlin should open in Columbus as starting depth, and the rest of that staff in Columbus could be a mix of prospects and veteran free agent pickups. I would think that if Maronde is still with the club he is one of the CBus starters.....Will Roberts may move up to start the year but could open in Akron. I'd definitely expect some depth signings like the Banwart's, Cloyd's and Marcum's of the world.
October 19, 2014 - 5:52 PM EDT
outstanding is a nice thought but was a typo outstanding was intended for the body of the blog. outstanding is roger
October 19, 2014 - 5:51 PM EDT
as for zac mac i would like to see him prepare for the late inning bullpen job. He over the time with cleveland has shown a significant amount of improvement in veloscity. he has gone from a slightly above avg velo to a significantly above avg mid 90's toping out at 97 which is flame throwing numbers. if he prepares for a short late inning role this winter he could add 1 to 2 or maybe even 3 mph to his velo. One thing i am certain of is had he shown the velo in new york skankees system we wouldnt have even smelled him even up for the of we gave to get him. I cant even remember the guys name. He needs to develop some secondary stuff (breaking ball maybe a split) to possibly be comparible to davis in kc. Wade davis no one ever saw this coming O Day with the O's as well was a surprise why not zac mac he is 6/6 240 or so maybe some lower body strengh will do the trick. You add one more quality arm to the back end of the bullpen and that limits shaw, atch, and scrabble to maybe 60 appearances or slightly more and i think their sept showing will be significant coupled with an improvement by crockett and hagadone and an excellent bullpen becomes incredible and it becomes a 6 inning game like the royals are late in the season except for atch and allen showed a lot of wear and tear on their arms and rightfully so 4 pitchers over 70 games is insane.
October 19, 2014 - 5:40 PM EDT
Indians have alot of work to do in the pitching department for AAA

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