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Is Brady Singer a number 2 starter now?

Brady Singer is in the top 60 starting pitchers this year for sure, so where does he slot in a rotation?

Houston Astros v Kansas City Royals Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images

When developing pitchers, teams are always looking for the proverbial ace. The Royals’ current crop of young pitchers has definitely not reached that rarified air yet, but Brady Singer is starting to creep into the level right below ace status. Both on the straight-up results and on the context-specific stats, Singer is rising up the ranks of starting pitchers for 2022.

I just pulled a Fangraphs leaderboard and then isolated any starting pitchers with 10 or more starts, and then sorted by several of the main statistics you would use to say what pitchers have been the best this year. Here is how Brady ranks:

ERA: 55th

xERA: 57th

FIP: 55th

xFIP: 21st

WAR: 50th

If you are defining a number two starter in the most basic terms, there are 30 teams, so any pitcher in the top 60 starters would be a one or two. Brady Singer is clearly in the top 60 starters so far this year. Now, that is overly simplistic, and it is ignoring the fact that pitchers like Jacob deGrom are not in this data set because he has not thrown 10 starts. He is clearly an ace, and possibly the best starter in baseball, so just ranking outcomes is not enough. What it does show is that Singer is at least pitching in the realm of a number two starter by every basic statistic of overall performance.

Personally, I think it takes more than just these types of statistics to show the value of a starter. Starters need to repeatedly give their team a chance to win, and typically to do that you need to get deep into games. Getting deep into a game is not what it used to be, so that is hard to define as well. This year, of all the qualified starting pitchers, there is a grand total of 11 complete games. Bob Gibson had more than 11 complete games by himself in 11 different seasons! At this point anything 6+ innings seems to be enough for a good starter.

Singer has six or more innings in all but one of his last eight starts. Five were quality starts and one he gave up four runs but made it eight and third. Before that he only had two quality starts on the year. Over that eight-game stretch, Brady’s ERA was 2.75 with a 3.14 FIP, so he has been a near ace-level pitcher for a short stretch recently. In 2021 his best eight games in a row were from April 12th to May 22nd and he posted an ERA of 3.24, so he has been a full half run better than any stretch last season. If he keeps going, that sort of comparison will get even more impressive. What happens the rest of the year will really decide, but Singer looks like a number two starter or better right now.

By spin rate and results, Brady’s changeup is better than it was last season. He is throwing it twice as often, though that still means only 8% of the time. Is it such a small thing to be able to take an inconsistent middle to back of the rotation guy and make them into a legitimate part of a contender’s one-two punch? I am sure there is more to it than just that small changeup tweak, but whatever it is I think by the end of 2022 we will know what the Royals have in Brady Singer finally.

Hopefully, he finishes the year strong, and we can be confident that at least one of the top rotation spots is in a good place.