Since I expected the Royals fortunes to depend heavily on their starting pitching this season, I've been keeping a close eye on how it has been comparing in the AL Central so far this year. (That expectation hasn't exactly been correct of course. The Royals offense has sputtered and has been almost as much of a problem as the starters have been.) Here's how the teams are stacking up at the All-Star break:
The Tigers and White Sox starters have been in a separate class all season long and have pretty similar numbers across the board. The White Sox rank either first or second in every category on my chart. The Royals starters have been bad, but the Twins numbers are really painful. If xFIP is any indication, they've been terribly unlucky in addition to being bad. Their win probability added is the craziest number on the chart.
Here's a look at the WAR of the individual pitchers in the Central who have made at least five starts. The number is the average of the pitcher's fWAR and rWAR, meaning it meets in the middle of Fangraphs' FIP-based number and Baseball Reference's runs allowed-based figure.
The Tigers and White Sox each have four pitchers in the top 10. Hard to believe the Twins have THREE pitchers rating worse than Jonathan Sanchez. I miss Felipe Paulino, you guys.
Here is a graph looking at the game scores of Royals starters. The thin line is every game score, and the thicker line is a rolling five game average:
Keeping in mind 50 is average, they were pretty terrible for the first 31 games, then found a completely acceptable level of mediocrity for a pretty good stretch before stumbling over the last 10 games or so.
One more. This one is the game-by-game accumulation of win probability from each Royals start:
It tells the same story as the previous chart: terrible start, a leveling off, then awful again leading into the break. Overall a definite downward trend pointing to lots of losses.
The Royals needed their starters to stay healthy and have a couple of break-out performances for there to have been any hope of contention this year. Neither of those things has happened.
Finally, from Fangraphs' pitch values, here are the nastiest of a few pitch types in the division:
Fastball: Justin Verlander, 16.7 runs above average
Slider: Drew Smyly, 6.9 RAA
Cutter: Gavin Floyd, 5.3 RAA
Curve: Justin Verlander, 8.0 RAA
Change up: Bruce Chen, 9.7 RAA