Click to enlarge. 2009 Mariners SP tRA for July 2009. Source StatCorner.com
After an average June, the Mariner rotation got absolutely destroyed in the month of July. It was one of the worst performances since Spinal Tap rocked out the United States Air Force. They compiled a 6.31 tRA, a gruesome figure that added up to a -21.7 runs above average mark for the month. On to the individual assessments.
ERIK BEDARD: We only got two starts out of Bedard in June. We doubled that to four in July, though none were able to last even six innings and only one even reached the fifth inning. The culprit was inefficiency, as it usually is with Bedard, but taken to the extreme this time. Bedard was hamstrung by low pitch counts as he attempted to work his way back from injury, but, and this is incredible, averaging 4.4 pitches per batter faced is no way to work. On the plus side, Bedard returned to missing bats with a much improved 12.7% rate. His ground ball rate was solid as well, but a 17% walk rate is unacceptable and just 17.1 innings over 339 pitches is a waste. GRADE: D
FELIX HERNANDEZ: Felix carried the rotation in the month of June with a 2.77 tRA and 8.6 runs above average. Well, he did his best to repeat those exact numbers in July with a 2.81 tRA and 8.3 runs above average. Felix's swinging strikes took another dip, but again, 9.7% is still excellent. The batted ball profile remained solid, but it might be time to accept that the version of Felix that issued ground balls like Jack Johnson issues bland and mellow vaguely rock songs is gone and probably not ever coming back. I guess I can settle with this version. Oh yeah, he cut his walks in half from June. GRADE: A
BRANDON MORROW: Yeah, the positive things that I said last month all decided to run away and leave just the negatives to stick around and taunt me at night, leaving me to wake up in a cold sweat craving, but unable to eat, sweets. In June, Morrow parked a ground ball rate over 50%. In July it went to 22% which was roughly a third of his fly ball plus line drive rates. His control got even worse, though he did regress the overall walk rate a bit. He also missed a few more bats, proving that his pitches are just slightly less apt to miss the hitter's bat as they are the catcher's intended target. In the end, the individual pitch results were raw but still promising, the batted balls were not. Morrow got spanked. GRADE: D-
GARRETT OLSON: I was worried about Olson's batted ball profile in June. It got worse in July, and the home runs came even more frequently. That would have been bad enough, but hey, why not walk a man per inning? Because it is bad for your team, Garrett, that is why not. GRADE:F
RYAN ROWLAND-SMITH: Yes! Our Aussie returns to the Majors. Just a two start sample size, so there is not much to say other than that Rowland-Smith looks so far exactly like the pitcher he was last year out of the rotation. Which is fine. GRADE: N/A
JASON VARGAS: Continue beholding Jason Vargas's changeup; a pitch that generated a swinging strike rate of 11% in July, up from 8.7% in June. Vargas lost his luck in avoiding issuing walks based on his strike profile and rather than his home run rate regressing to his fly ball rate, his fly ball rate regressed to his home run rate. Oops. GRADE: D+
JARROD WASHBURN: You traded him! Washburn posted a .245 BABIP in June to mask how poorly he actually pitched, but he really stepped it up in July riding his man-trust in Rob Johnson to a .192 BABIP and some nifty Detroit Tigers prospects and a legion of fans that think he's somehow pitching at the top of the league. Washburn's strike rate and swinging strike rate are already moving closer to his average numbers and his strikeout rate is following. Whatever, he is gone! For at least a few months! GRADE: B
2009 Mariners RP tRA for July 2009. Source StatCorner.com
The bullpen shook off the horrible May to return to being slightly above average in June, logging 1.1 runs over average. The issue, again is that they did it by limiting the home run (one per 60 batters faced this month) and May showed what happens when that non-skill regresses.
The bullpen shook off the slightly above average June to return to being bad in July, logging -5.9 runs over average. The issue, again is that the home runs stopped being caught at the wall and instead, to a tune of one per 24 batters faced this month, flew over the fence.
David Aardsma remained solid in July, though not near his dominant June. Actually, over half the bullpen turned in solid July's. Miguel Batista, Chris Jakubauskas and Shawn Kelley ruined the month as no three people have since the Kingsmen ruined Louie, Louie. A combined 12 home runs allowed from the trio over 174 batters faced, compared to the rest of the pen allowing three home runs over 192 batters.
Sean White lost some of his groundballiness, but did a decent job limiting walks and threw a remarkable amount of strikes for him. Mark Lowe missed bats and even threw strikes, punching out 12 over 12.2 innings. Roy Corcoran...was released. Even Garrett Olson looks much better out of the pen. There is a grab bag here for those predisposed to looking either at the positive or negative side of things.