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.