Saturday, July 24, 2004

Lucky Loaiza?

Esteban Loaiza has been struggling, so maybe we should ask why.

Well, it’s pretty simple. He’s not striking guys out like he did last year. That wouldn’t be a problem if he weren’t walking guys and giving up a ton of gopher balls.

Here’s some stats from last year, compared to this year and his career numbers.

              K/BB     BB/9    HR     HR/9    ERA
2003      3.70       2.23      17       0.67      2.90
2004      1.85       2.82      19       1.34      4.79
CAR       2.29       2.54     197      1.10      4.60

Given that his K/BB, BB/9 innings and HR/9 rates area all worse than his career rates, Loaiza is pretty lucky to have an ERA under 5 as of this writing. That’s bad news for Sox fans counting on him to be part of a fearsome three at the top of the rotation.

The good news is that baring injury, Loaiza should at least come back down to his career levels – which won’t help his ERA, but should keep it from climbing higher.

It might just be that the cut fastball that helped Loaiza to a monster season last year just isn’t fooling hitters this year. And maybe he’s not getting it over for a strike. If that’s the case, he’ll need another new pitch if he ever hopes to approximate his last – and only – great season.

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