Chris’ Hangover: Brandon Maurer’s One Weird Thing

Brandon Maurer has been a decent pitcher in San Diego. That’s not the highest praise for a guy who assumed a closer role this year. But his 3.15 DRA in 2015 was great, and his 4.33 DRA last year was average, so decent is the word I’m going with.

As closer, Brandon Maurer has been frustrating of late. He blew a save dramatically against the Rangers last Thursday, wasn’t particularly effective against the White Sox on Sunday, then he blew another save last night against the Brewers.

So you start asking questions. The first answer to those questions is a reminder that we’re talking about 16 innings here. It’s been well established that baseball is weird, and baseball gets extra weird in 16 innings. His season so far is like, two or three starts from a pitcher. Nobody, except maybe Ron Fowler puts much stock into so short a time period.

But also, if you’re like me, you might pull up his Fangraphs page and have a little look see.

IP ERA FIP xFIP
16 6.75 2.53 1.96

As a refresher, FIP considers only a pitcher’s walks, strikeouts, and home runs, and xFIP pretends the number of home runs a pitcher gives up is what we would expect based on his fly ball rate.

Turns out Anibal Sanchez is the only pitcher with an ERA that far above his xFIP, and Maurer leads the majors in the same stat with regular FIP, among pitchers with 15+ innings.  There are a handful of guys mixed in here with 10-14 innings, but I left them out because the point about how extreme Maurer has been still stands, and #RelieverChat this early in the season is really more a fun novelty than a meaningful discussion.

How has this happened? Interestingly, Maurer is giving up a ton of dingers while still managing to strike guys out and avoid walks. His 3.24 DRA and 86 cFIP remain impressive as well. The plan to flip Maurer at the deadline to any team that might still believe in the benefits of a proven closer should still be in good shape.

 

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