2011 MLB Predictions: 11 Pitchers 25-or-Younger Who May Regress This Season

Nick Kappel@@NickKappelAnalyst IIIMarch 29, 2011

ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 17: Starter Matt Latos #38 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on September 17, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Verducci Effect has become a popular phenomenon within baseball circles in recent seasons. While young hurlers such as Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez have bucked this trend in recent years, it's worth noting the risk and effect it may have on pitchers in 2011.

More than 10 years ago under the advice of former pitching coach Rick Peterson, Tom Verducci developed this rule of thumb: 25-and-younger pitchers should not increase their workload by 30 innings or more from one season to the next. Pitchers who are pushed past this limit are subject to an injury or regression in the following season.

Not surprisingly, the results have generally supported this theory.

In the last five years, Tom Verducci has red-flagged 44 pitchers 25-and-younger who increased their workload by 30 innings or more. Of those 44 pitchers, only eight of them (18 percent) made it through the following season without injury AND lowered their ERA.

Seven of those eight instances have come in the last two seasons. Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Jair Jurrjens had breakout seasons in 2009 after violating Verducci’s rule of thumb in 2008. Mat Latos, Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson and Max Scherzer all did the same last year. Latos may not have escaped the effects, however, as a shoulder injury will force him to start the 2011 season on the DL.

The other 36 pitchers who fell victim to the Verducci Effect in the last five years most notably include: Cole Hamels, Chad Billingsley, Jon Danks, Francisco Liriano, Fausto Carmona, Dustin McGowan, Gustavo Chacin, Yovani Gallardo, Ian Kennedy and Anibal Sanchez.

This of course, leads us to the 11 pitchers to keep an eye on in 2011:

PitcherAge2010 IPIncrease
Madison Bumgarner (SF)21214 1/3+73*
Alex Sanabia (Fla)22170 2/3+66 1/3
Mat Latos (SD)23184 2/3+61 2/3
David Price (TB)25221 1/3+58 2/3
Brandon Beach (Atl)24133+57
Phil Hughes (NYY)24192+46*
Brett Cecil (Tor)24183 2/3+41 1/3
Gio Gonzalez (Oak)25200 2/3+41
Dillon Gee (NYM)24194 1/3+40*
Travis Wood (Cin)23206+38 1/3
Ivan Nova (NYY)23187+38 1/3

*Previous high occurred prior to 2010

Verducci notes that players such as Price (who turns 26 this season) and Hughes (who turns 25) pose less of a risk than the others thanks to having big bodies and being on the borderline of his random age limit. The sub-2.50 ERA curse (developed by yours truly), however, suggests Price is, in fact, due for a regression this season.

You’ve been warned.


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