Image credit: © Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
PECOTA Week, baby. You can smell the projections in the crisp morning air, feel them rise from the frost-laden grass as it cracks under your feet, and nearly hear the grackles’ cawing gripes about their favorite team’s record (out tomorrow) as they come up from their southern migration.
Similarly, the offensive environment through MLB enjoyed upward movement last year, much to the chagrin of pitchers. MLB teams scored more than 1,600 additional runs compared to 2022, as runs per game climbed from 4.28 to 4.62.
That makes finding pitchers on the rise a diverse exercise. They’re examined below through the lens of projected DRA- for 2024 compared to their DRA- from 2023 and their career, and grouped into four pairs: rookies we expect to get better, veterans we see bouncing back, relievers we see bouncing back, and free agents who could be sharper yet.
Honorable mentions go to Cristian Javier and Tony Gonsolin, who each appeared in this context last year; Andrew Abbott, whose puzzling stuff PECOTA still looks upon favorably; and Alek Manoah, who is primed to be 25% better than last year but still nearly 10% worse than league average. You can see the data on more than 400 pitchers here.
Eury Perez, SP, Marlins
2024 Projected DRA-: 91 2023 DRA-: 106 Career DRA-: 106On one hand, projecting a young pitcher like Pérez to do anything but get better would be troubling in the scope of their overall profile. On the other, expecting him to be this good immediately puts him in line to be one of the better pitchers in the league. Only 43 starting pitchers in baseball threw at least as many innings as he did last year and registered a DRA- of 91 or better, and only 45 are projected to hit that mark this year. Only nine rookies generated more chases than he did and only Keaton Winn, who is nearly four years older than Pérez, was harder for hitters to make contact against in the zone. It’s these skills that PECOTA is using to project the soon-to-be 21-year-old as a top-30 pitcher by strikeouts and a top-50 pitcher by WHIP.