Thursday, September 22, 2011

Behind the horrific season Kevin Slowey is having

Perhaps I am just a sadist, but I find a horrifically ugly season interesting and entertaining. Horrific and ugly are two words that quickly come to mind when assessing Twins starting pitcher Kevin Slowey's 2011 season. The bizarre thing is that Slowey has had moderate success in the Majors before this year. In 08, he put together a 3.99 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, and a ratio of over 5 strikeouts per walk. Last season, his stats weren't quite as good, but very formidable (2.3 WAR in 08, .8 WAR last season). This year, his numbers look something like this. 0-7 (I put very little stock in pitching records), 6.54 ERA, 1.360 WHIP (not awful, and I will show you why his WHIP isn't bad in a second), a -.4 WAR, and a WASP of 6480. What went wrong? Well, it appears that Slowey's problems with the longball have finally caught up with him. His 1.5 homers allowed per 9 innings is about standard for his career and is way too high. He doesn't walk hardly anyone (averaging just .8 walks per 9 innings, an amazing number), but perhaps that is the problem. The stats seem to show he is not throwing it out of the zone at all. He has thrown 70 percent of his pitches for strikes, while the artist of quality strike throwing, Cliff Lee, is throwing 69 percent of his pitches for strikes. It is pretty easy to claim that Slowey has neither the stuff or control to live in the strike zone as much as Lee does. His batting average against is .303 and .321 on balls put in play. That means that either he is extremely unlucky or is getting the ball hit hard off him. The Twins have not been good on defense all year, and statistics seem to show that Slowey may be just unlucky this season, as his FIP (fielder independent ERA) is 4.49 (which is still a career high). Also, what was fly balls in previous years for Slowey, have turned into line drives (a career low in fly ball percentage, and career high in line drive percentage). Another thing that may hurt the "he is unlucky case" is that he hasn't even given up an infield hit. Slowey's curveball is being hit unlike its ever been hit before as Fangraphs notes that his curveball has given up 4.1 more runs than an average curveball. Is Slowey experiencing bad luck on a bad team? Sure, but he is not exactly Cy Young either.

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