Earned Run Average is standard in 5x5s, but it can be a finicky statistic.
Its most significant fault is that while pitchers are saddled with responsibility for it, the final number isn’t always in their control.
There are a lot of factors that can go into a run scoring, earned or unearned, but this is the statistic we use and the one we’ll probably keep using.
So, how can we determine which pitchers have the best chance to avoid trouble in 2010?
There are 24 pitchers — 14 starters and 10 relievers — that have a good chance based on three sets of projections reviewed for this project. There are only 11 elite pitchers — six starters, five relievers — in this category.
Starting pitchers (3.50 or less ERA)
Tim Lincecum, Giants (12.39) — No surprise Lincecum’s up here. Was pegged as MLB ERA leader on one list.
Roy Halladay, Phillies (25.42) — Shouldn’t come as much of a shock to see Halladay here.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners (30.92) — ERA has dropped at least .50 points every season since 2006, completing the run with a 2.49 mark last season. He won’t do that again, but 3.20-3.30 easy.
Zack Grienke, Royals (28.61) — Like Hernandez, Grienke’s decimal has dropped considerably for three consecutive season, ending in a spectacular 2.16 mark in 2009.
Chris Carpenter, Cardinals (71.97) — Has a 3.87 career ERA and hasn’t had an ERA over 3.41 in a full season since 2004
CC Sabathia, Yankees (29.02) — ERAs since 2006: 3.22, 3.21, 2.70. 3.37.
Relief pitchers (3.30 or less ERA)
Joe Nathan, Twins (73.85) — If you’re going to pick a closer early, Nathan’s going to be in the conversation.
Joakim Soria, Royals (100.24) — Career 2.09 ERA.
Mariano Rivera, Yankees (70.80) — Rivera’s had a sub-2.00 ERA in six of the last seven seasons.
Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox (69.31) — Career 1.84 ERA.
Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers (69.20) — Strike out 114 batters in 80 innings, like Broxton did in 2009, it makes the ERA fight easier.
Of course, there were a handful of pitchers who were projected to reach their marks on two of the three lists.
These players all have a good shot at meeting the milestone.
Johan Santana, Mets; Adam Wainwright, Cardinals; Cliff Lee, Mariners; Dan Haren, Diamondbacks; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Tommy Hanson, Braves; Matt Cain, Giants; Jair Jurrjens, Braves.
Billy Wagner, Braves; Andrew Bailey, Athletics; Rafael Soriano, Rays; Mike Adams, Padres; Heath Bell, Padres
In 2009, 23 starters had ERAs of 3.50 or less and 59 relievers were under 3.30.
Many of the players on the above lists also made the marks in 2009, but there are quite a few who aren’t projected to return. There are too many to list here. Many of them are long relievers or spot starters that you won’t draft or roster long anyway, but there still a few notable players who could help your ERA in 2010:
Jon Lester, Red Sox; Josh Johnson, Marlins; Justin Verlander, Tigers; Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies; Wandy Rodriguez, Astros; Javier Vazquez, Yankees; Randy Wells, Cubs; Ted Lilly, Cubs; Randy Wolf, Brewers.
Pete Moylan, Braves; JP Howell, Rays; Matt Thornton, White Sox; Trevor Hoffman, Brewers; Brad Zeigler, Athletics; Francisco Cordero, Reds; Huston Street, Rockies; Takashi Saito, Red Sox; Mike Wuertz, Athletics; David Aardsma, Mariners; Nick Masset, Reds; Luke Gregerson, Padres.