It’s that time again of the year where our opening day starters struggles begin to come infuriating. That’s right this trend traces all the way back to 2015 when Kyle Lohse was the Brewers opening day starter. Ever since then we have had Wily Peralta, Junior Guerra, Chase Anderson, and now Jhoulys Chacin nearly crumble after their start. Now this may seem a little ridiculous and maybe just a coincidence. So sure maybe 2 or 3 years in a row, but 5, there seems to be some funny business going on. Let me expand.

It all started when Kyle Lohse was picked to be the opening day starter in 2015. All seemed great and fine the year before (see table below) and it seemed as though Lohse would have a similar year. That could not be farther from the truth.


Year Barrel % BB% wOBA
2014 7.8% 6.5% Around .300
2015 17.5% 10.4 .362

 

Before I get deep into discussing this “curse”, let’s talk about what I am using to evaluate. When it comes to pitching the name of the game is quality pitches. The more quality pitches the better you will be. Barrel%, comes from the percent of batted balls that are hit on the barrel by a combination of exit velocity and launch angle. Then there is BB%, it’s pretty self explanatory, just the percent of walks given up. Then there is wOBA (weighted on base average),  the overall production of a hitter. Just a preposition, when I was finding these stats Lohse’s wOBA was only available for his 2015 season. Therefore, I used the equation from the 2013 season to get a rough estimate.

Now that that’s done, let’s get to business. Every single one of these numbers for Lohse went up dramatically. To put it blatantly, his quality of pitches must have been real bad compared to the season before for those numbers to rise like they did. The barrel% sticks out like a sore thumb, it went up 10%. For every 100 hits he had, there were 10 more than the year before that were barreled up. The drop off happened for one year, things didn’t pan out, no big deal right?


Next up is Wily Peralta, the only questionable one of the group talked about today. This is what his numbers looked like:

Year Barrel% BB% wOBA
2015 5% 7.7% .363
2016 6.7% 7.8% .365

Here’s the deal. The numbers went up, but not at the rate of Kyle Lohse or the pitchers that will follow. Maybe the Brewers got away with this one. However, I did look at his stats for 2017, and they were not as pretty.

Year Barrel% BB% wOBA
2017 8.7% 11.9% .396

 

When you compare the numbers in 2017 you will see the changes that suggest that he wasn’t as sharp as he once was. Looking at the BB%, there is nearly a 4% difference. That is four more hitters walked per 100, that tells me that his pitch quality has dropped. The reason that this one may be more of a stretch, is because it was the year after his start that he dropped. That may be just a classic case of “regression”.

This is where things get real interesting, starting in 2017 with Junior Guerra.

Year Barrel% BB% wOBA
2016 5.8% 8.7% .307
2017 10% 13.7% .371

 

I don’t have to get much into the details with this one considering you can see this plain and simple, his pitching skills seemed to have fallen off a cliff. Where things get interesting is during his start. In what I believe the third inning he was sacrifice bunting. While leaving the box he hurt himself and was out for quite a while. Kinda a little creepy right?

The next victim of this so called curse, is Chase Anderson.

Year Barrel% BB% wOBA
2017 4.4% 7.2% .281
2018 8.8% 8.9% .317

 

You see the stats don’t you, this is the same story line for the 4th year in a row. Another story line that is way too similar, is quite honestly the ugliest slide on planet earth. If you recall, he was running into home, when he practically barrel rolled and plopped onto the plate. I don’t quite remember if he was safe or not, however, he was not injured, but still too much of a close call.

Last but not least, is the most recent storyline, that has been a headline this year, Jhoulys Chacin.

Year Barrel% BB% wOBA
2018 6.5% 8.9% .287
2019 5.5% 11.2% .343

 

Although the barrel% did go down, everything else is too much of a close call, and the same story. This year has been a smaller sample size than pitchers before, since he was put on to the IL the other week.

Since Chacin has been the fifth pitcher to succumb to this so called curse that is lingering, there is reason to believe something weird is going on. Sure, maybe it is a crazy cowinsadince since Guerra and Anderson have both redeemed themselves with the team. However, I think we can all agree that it’s a much better story that they are cursed, and that the Brewers need someone to break up this bizzare cycle.

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