Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA) is an ERA estimator that tries to capture the skill level of a pitcher by eliminating factors that are outside of a pitcher’s control. In this regard, it’s similar to Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). But unlike FIP, SIERA uses balls in play data and adjusts accordingly for the type of ball in play; SIERA is also park-adjusted.
WHY use SIERA
SIERA is a useful underlying metric when it comes to predicting a pitcher’s future ERA. If a pitcher has a high ERA but a low SIERA, that usually indicates a pitcher is underperforming and a rebound is due. On the flip side, if a pitcher has a low ERA but a high SIERA, the pitcher is likely overperforming and regression is due. While SIERA is the estimator I primarily look at, I also use it alongside FIP, xFIP, and xERA to get a greater idea of a pitcher’s overall performance.
We now have some extended draft prep time on our hands (not cool, Manfred!). As such, I thought it would be useful to look at some pitchers whose ERA should improve this season based on their 2021 SIERA.
SIERA Buys for 2022
Eduardo Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers
(4.74 ERA, 3.65 SIERA)
Eduardo Rodriguez posted a career-worst 4.74 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 2021. Looking only at these numbers, I wouldn’t blame you for taking a pass on him in drafts this season. But he also posted a 3.65 SIERA, indicating brighter days are ahead for Rodriguez.
Despite the bloated ERA, 2021 was Rodriguez’s best season of his career. He improved both his strikeout and walk rates, and his 20.4% K-BB% ranked 15th among pitchers with at least 150 innings pitched. Additionally, many of his contact rates were consistent with his career numbers, and his 11.7% SwStr% and 28.1% CSW% tied career-best marks.
So why the inflated surface stats? Well, Rodriguez was one of the unluckiest players last year. He finished the season with a .363 BABIP – more than 50 points higher than his career .311 mark. Moving forward, expect a lower ERA for Rodriguez. In fact, most projection systems have him down for a sub-four ERA. Also, keep in mind that he should benefit from the move out of cozy Fenway Park to the spacious confines of Comerica Park.
Don’t let Rodriguez’s 2021 surface stats fool you; pounce on the new Detroit Tiger in drafts!
Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners
(4.68 ERA, 3.87 SIERA)
Logan Gilbert finished his rookie campaign with a 4.68 ERA and 1.17 WHIP across 119.1 innings pitched. The WHIP is good, the ERA not so much. But his 3.87 SIERA indicates Logan pitched better than his surface stats; and there are several reasons why fantasy managers should expect positive regression in 2022.
Logan finished last season with a 19.9% K-BB% and a 5.6% BB% – both top-30 numbers among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched. Gilbert also has a solid pitch arsenal. He relies primarily on his fastball (61.5% usage) and slider (23.9% usage), with both offerings plus pitches. His four-seamer finished with a -19 Run Value (tied for fourth-best), and his slider has a 38.2% whiff rate. Given Gilbert’s skill set and arsenal, bank on a strong season and an ERA rebound.
Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Dodgers
(5.83 ERA, 3.84 SIERA)
I’ve always been wary of Andrew Heaney and his long-standing home run issue (career 1.62 HR/9); not to mention his inflated ERA (career 4.72). But I’ve changed my tune this season. In 129.2 innings, Heaney finished the 2021 season with a 5.83 ERA and 1.32 WHIP (as well as a 2.01 HR/9). Oof. But that also came with a 3.84 SIERA – nearly a two-point differential.
As his SIERA indicated, Heaney pitched better in 2021 than his end-of-season surface stats show. His 19.5% K-BB% ranked 31st among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched. He also displayed impressive plate discipline metrics. His 35.7% chase rate ranked in the 91st percentile, and his 12.5% SwStr% and 81.1% zone contact rate were well above league average.
Most projections peg Heaney for a sub-4.50 ERA in 2022. While that may not sound ideal, there’s room for optimism given his skill set and strikeout upside. Additionally, Heaney signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Dodgers in the offseason. If they can help him command his home run-prone fastball this season, this could finally be the breakout year for Heaney.
Unlike Eduardo Rodriguez and Logan Gilbert, Heaney is essentially free in drafts. He’s currently being drafted just inside pick 300 across NFBC formats. The price is right to take a shot on him in 2022. Buy Heaney’s rebound!