Is Hector Santiago Worth Starting?

Aug 10, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Hector Santiago throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the second inning during the game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

With the recent loss of Tyler Skaggs, it looks like Hector Santiago has a regular spot in the Angels rotation down the stretch.   This was good news for me as I own him in a very competitive 30-team salary dynasty league and could use him as my starters are dropping like flies.

Santiago has pitched very well of late. Since the all-star break he has a 1.37 ERA and is coming off an outing where he shut out my Boston Red Sox over six innings.

I really want to believe this is real, for my own selfish purposes. However, being the natural cynic I am, I have to delve into the numbers to find out.

Santiago has pitched 26.1 innings since the break (4 starts) and only allowed 4 earned runs. More impressive than the ERA is the fact that he’s only given up one home run in those 26.1 innings. Santaigo is a fly ball pitcher. His flyball percentage on the year is 52.7%. This high flyball rate naturally leads to home run issues.

  • In his 64 innings he pitched before the all-star break, he gave up 8 homers.
  • His career home run to flyball rate is about 9%, which is in line with his 8 homers in 64 innings in the first half.
  • His home run to flyball ration in the second half: 2.2%.

That is very scary, as it looks like he’s been very lucky in his home run to flyball ratio and that regression is coming.

Looking deeper into that ERA, it doesn’t look much better. Per Fangraphs, Santiago has a 3.67 FIP and 5.37 xFIP (which takes home run to flyball ratio into consideration) in the second half. He’s benefited greatly on his batting average on balls in play (BABIP). His career BABIP is .272. This is actually well below league average, but considering all the flyballs he induces, it kind of makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is his second half BABIP of .195.

So, he has been very lucky on balls in play and his home run rate, both looking like regression is in order. Any other bad news that will hurt his value in my uber dynasty league? Unfortunately…..yes.

His strikeout rate has taken a nose dive in the second half of the year. Before the break, he was striking out just under a batter per innings. I’ll take that anytime. In his 26.1 innings after the all-star break, his strikeout rate has dropped to 5.47 per nine innings. He has a 1.45 strikeout to walk ratio in the second half. It’s tough to succeed with a ratio like that.

All this does not bode well for Hector Santiago in the fantasy game. His recent hot streak looks like luck in just about every aspect of pitching. I’d worry about (and expect) hard regression to come his way. His next start looks like it will be in the tiny ballpark in Texas. I’m staying far away from starting him there.