Pirates Notebook: Maholm is better with Diaz

I’ve posted this many times in the past, but I feel it needs to be posted after every Paul Maholm start. Paul Maholm and Jason Jaramillo just don’t mix.

Before I go on, the updated CERA chart, comparing the pitching rotation under Ryan Doumit, Robinzon Diaz, and Jason Jaramillo:

As you can see, Maholm has been great with Doumit and Diaz, and horrible with Jaramillo. Tonight was just another example.

The issue was brought up in Dejan Kovacevic’s chat at the PPG yesterday:

PghSportsfan66: Has JR publicly acknowleged his awareness of Maholm’s substantially lower ERA when Diaz catches as opposed to Jaramillo (0.67 vs. 7.53) and has he provided a potential reason for it?

Dejan Kovacevic: That stuff tends to even out over time, regardless of catcher. It is up to the pitcher to make the pitch, and so much of the selection — in a general sense — is up to pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.

Since I’ve been tracking this for the past month or so, I’m going to take credit for bringing this issue to light. Therefore, I’m also going to provide my response to this, along with some of the forum discussions that I’ve seen referencing my CERA chart, dismissing it as a coincidence.

I realize that overall, it’s a small sample size. We’re talking about less than 40 innings for each catcher, and less than half a season for Maholm. That doesn’t mean that you can just dismiss any trends that are developing. Let’s consider that:

-Maholm has 3 quality starts in 3 outings with Doumit
-Maholm has 4 quality starts in 4 outings with Diaz
-Maholm has 1 quality start in 7 outings with Jaramillo

I could see how it would be a coincidence if Maholm was just getting shelled in a few starts, but he’s struggled in six out of seven starts with Jaramillo. There’s also a clear pattern:

-In his first three games, Maholm posted an 0.87 ERA with Doumit
-In his next four games, Maholm struggled with a 6.84 ERA with Jaramillo
-Maholm allowed one run in 13 innings over his next two starts with Diaz
-In the 5/25 start, Maholm allowed 7 runs in 4 innings with Jaramillo
-Maholm allowed one run in 7 innings in the 5/31 start with Diaz
-Maholm allowed 4 runs in 7 innings in the 6/6 start with Jaramillo
-Maholm allowed no runs in 7 innings in the 6/11 start with Diaz
-Tonight, Maholm allowed 8 runs in 5 innings with Jaramillo

That’s more than coincidence. That’s a clear pattern. You put Diaz in, and Maholm has a good game. You put Jaramillo in, and he struggles.

I keep reading that this stuff evens out over time. Let’s look at what it would take to get Jaramillo and Diaz to a 3.61 ERA with Maholm (which was his ERA before tonight’s start):

With 50 Extra IP: Jaramillo actually can’t get to a 3.61 ERA. He’d need -1 runs in the next 50 innings to lower his CERA to 3.61. Think about that. He could have 50 shutout innings and still couldn’t reach a 3.61 ERA. Diaz would need a 5.22 ERA over those 50 innings, more than a run every two innings.

With 100 Extra IP: Jaramillo would need 19 earned runs, or a 1.71 ERA. That would pretty much be 16 starts in a row with 6 innings pitched and no more than 1-2 earned runs per inning. Diaz would need a 4.41 ERA over this stretch, or about a run every other inning.

With 150 Extra IP: Jaramillo would need a 2.34 ERA. That’s about one run allowed every four innings, max. That means if he would go six innings and allow three runs, he needs six shutout innings to make up for that. Diaz would need a 4.14 ERA, or just under a run every other inning.

With 200 Extra IP: Similar story. Jaramillo would need a 2.66 ERA, or about a run every four innings max. Diaz would need a 4.01 ERA.

In order to even the two players out, Maholm would more or less have to be one of the best pitchers in the game with Jaramillo. Now over time it gets easier for Jaramillo to lower his CERA, and easier for Diaz to raise his CERA, but that doesn’t discount the current stats.

Over the next 200 innings, Diaz would have to allow a little less than a run every other inning. Hard to imagine that when he currently has an 0.67 CERA with Maholm in four starts.

Jaramillo would have to hold opponents to a run every 3.5 innings. That means he would need about 28-29 starts in a row with 7 innings and 2 earned runs to get to a 3.61 ERA. Hard to imagine when he’s only accomplished that once in seven starts this year, and that was his only quality start.

Baseball is a game of stats and trends. This is an obvious trend, and I don’t think it’s a fluke. Maholm does not work well with Jason Jaramillo. I’m not saying Jaramillo/Maholm will continue on with an 8+ ERA. I’m also not saying that Maholm/Diaz will continue with an ERA under 1. What I am saying is that it is clear that Maholm is better with Diaz, and I don’t think it’s likely that Maholm suddenly evens out with both catchers from here on out.

Draft Picks Signed

I made some updates to the 2009 Draft Pick Signing Tracker earlier today. First, I added the level that each player was at (NCAA Junior, NCAA Senior, Junior College (JuCo), or Prep). The Pirates drafted 21 players from college, 21 players from high school, and 9 players from JuCo.

The Pirates signed all five of their college seniors (Jose Hernandez, Jason Erickson, Ty Summerlin, Pat Irvine, and Marc Baca), and assigned all to camp with the State College Spikes. The official announcement is provided by Jennifer Langosch.

Here are the stats for each last year:

Jose Hernandez: .360/.473/.739, 17 HR in 211 AB at Texas-San Antonio. 40:37 K/BB ratio. Wonder if the power can translate to wooden bats?

Jason Erickson: 4.34 ERA, 55:18 K/BB ratio in 74.2 IP, mostly as a starter. Looks like good control.

Ty Summerlin: .327/.384/.476, 4 HR, 12 SB in 254 AB. I don’t think he’ll be our next big SS prospect, but is the best hitter in SE Louisiana University history.

Pat Irvine: .402/.533/.789, 17 HR in 194 AB. 60:45 K/BB ratio. A lot of power, but a lot of Ks. Can the power translate to wooden bats?

Marc Baca: 4.05 ERA, 22:17 K/BB ratio in 33.1 IP. Just a relief pitcher, and looks more like a minor league filler for now.

We’ve seen a lot of reports that St. Louis and Houston have signed 20-30 picks already, while the Pirates are at six. I haven’t looked, but I would imagine the players who have signed with those teams are mostly college seniors. Since we have so many college juniors, prep players, and JuCo players, I’d imagine our signings will take longer.

I plan on checking on the St. Louis and Houston drafts/signings to see if they were full of college seniors. At the end of it all I plan on comparing the Pirates to every major league team, based on the top 10 rounds.

Also, if you see any news on anyone we drafted, feel free to leave a link in the comments.



The top changes on The MVP Tracker tonight:

1. Paul Maholm: -.355 WPA
2. Adam LaRoche: -.207
3. Andy LaRoche: -.083
4. Jason Jaramillo: -.063
5. Andrew McCutchen: -.025

Prospect Watch

Updates to The Prospect Tracker from the last two days:

-Daniel McCutchen pitched yesterday, going 7 innings and allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, with 2 strikeouts and no walks. McCutchen has a 2.87 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and a 21:4 K/BB ratio in 47 innings pitched over his last five starts.

-Daniel Moskos struggled tonight, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings, with 4 walks and no strikeouts. Moskos got the win thanks to these two guys:

-Gorkys Hernandez got TWO hits tonight, with two runs and an RBI.

-Jose Tabata returned to the lineup as a DH, going 2 for 4 with 2 runs and an RBI. I’m guessing that he’s not ready for the field since he was a DH, but that’s just speculation.

-Pedro Alvarez went 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts in game one of tonight’s double header. He went 2 for 4 with 2 homers and six RBIs in game two. This is the second time in the last week that Alvarez has two homers in a game, and 6 or more RBIs.

-Robbie Grossman went 2 for 5 with his 20th stolen base of the season. Grossman is now hitting .284 on the season in West Virginia, with a .368 OBP, mostly from the leadoff spot. He’s hitting .339 so far in the month of June, and has reached base safely in 14 of 15 games in that span, with hits in 13 of those games. Get this man to Lynchburg!

-I don’t have a page for him (and none are in the works) but Rudy Owens pitched an eight inning one hitter for West Virginia, with 9 strikeouts and no walks. This season he has a 2.20 ERA in 13 starts, with a 65:11 K/BB ratio in 69.2 IP. He’s 21 years old, 6’3″ and 215 pounds.

Owens made 13 starts and 15 appearances at State College last year. In 58 innings he posted a 4.97 ERA, with a 45:13 K/BB ratio (remember, that was the team that threw something like 90% fastballs, so consider that when you consider his stats). Owens has a 44.7% ground ball ratio in his minor league career. Perhaps a hidden gem for us. Hydzu Headquarters has a great write up on Owens (done before the 2008 season, but provides some good background).

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Smoky Burgess

    Interesting info on Diaz & Maholm. Surely Russell can see the trend.

  • Anonymous

    It would seem that JJ is tipping off the batter somehow. If JR is serious about giving his team the best option of winning every night, he will make Diaz Maholm's personal catcher until Doumit comes back!

  • Anonymous

    I guess Maholm and Doumit don't mix so well either now eh?

    What's more likely:

    Maholm doesn't jive with Doumit and JJ while having some sort of connection with possibly the worst defensive catcher in the entire organization?

    Or it's just too small a sample size?

    CERA has been studied. There is virtually no correlation at all in CERA from year to year for a catcher. Making the likelihood of it being an actual skill, very very slim.

    CERA is a fascinating topic though. It's very mystical because of the number of variables that effect the state which the catcher has no control over at all. Throwing the baseball, being the main one.

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