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View Full Version : Bronson Arroyo Will Return to Form



RedlegJake
04-21-2008, 03:59 AM
I did some poring over Arroyo's stat lines and came up with a conclusion. Bronson isn't losing his stuff. He hasn't become a marginal pitcher overnight or lost his ability to perform. He's momentarily lost some command. That's heartening because it's correctable for a veteran pitcher if it doesn't correspond with a loss in "stuff" or a problem with health.

So far BA has pitched exactly 1/10th as many innings as last season. 21.3 compared to 210.7 last year. So lets multiply everything by 10 and compare the numbers to see if a problem is apparent.
'07 is the first number, 08 (multipliedx10) the second:

walks 63/80
hbp 2/20
wp 4/10

hits 232/270
homers 28/60

Ks 158/180

It's immediately apparent that he's missing bats even while getting hit hard. His K numbers are back to a 2006 level when he fanned 189. In fact the K ratio is slightly higher. To me that says the stuff is there.

What's lacking is command of his breaking stuff. At this seasons pace he'll be handing out 35 more free passes via walks and Hit batsmen than last year. He's also slinging wild pitches up there. Half as many already as last year in 1/10 the innings. The killer though is the long ball. At this clip he'll allow 60. He's hanging a lot of breaking stuff up in the zone. He was somewhat gopher prone the past 2 years at GAB but 28 a year is manageable (esp. for the park). 60 gets you the Hall of Infamy.

Now lets look at counts. Hitters put the ball in play against Arroyo in these counts:
Even 23.5% 2007 27.5%
Ahead 33% 2007 38.5%
Behind 43.5 2007 34%


Now Harang: And Cueto:
Even 19% 20.5%
Ahead 51% 48%
Behind 30% 31.5%


As comparison, Harang & Cueto are pitching even or ahead in the count when a batter puts a ball in play 70% of the time. Bronson just 56%. Even more significant Aaron is AHEAD of the hitters 51% of the time when a ball is put in play. Bronson? 38.5% Bronson has also gone to a long count (2-2, 3-1 or 3-2) when a ball is finally put in play 40 times in 21.3 innings. Harang? Just 33 times in 27 innings (not including Sunday's start). Cueto just 23 long counts in 26.1 innings. Just included Harang to give an idea what command and efficiency mean and how poorly Bronson's is right now. Cueto just to show how close he parallels Harang's numbers as far as command.

How bad does the command issue hurt Arroyo?
behind in counts BA = .346 OBP = .514 SP = .846 OPS = 1.340
ahead in counts BA = .259 OBP = .259 SP = .481 OPS = .740

In other words when he gets behind Bronson takes twice the beating.

The weather may be related too. In innings 1-3 BA is getting beat up. Here's his 1-3 and 4-6 splits:
Innings 1-3 HR 6 BA .340 OBP .418 SP .766 OPS 1.184
Innings 4-6 HR 0 BA .289 OBP .333 SP .368 OPS .702

He may be having trouble warming up - he IS better as the game goes on but he is so inefficient right now he's done by the 5th or 6th. It's been a cold, wet, windy April so far and that may be playing a role. However in looking at 06 and 07 he had very good April's both years. His '07 season was ruined by May and June when he pitched horribly. His other 4 months last year look just like his '06 numbers. His splits for May and June last year in fact, look a lot like this April. Falling behind, inefficient and getting hit hard when behind. He came out of that. I believe he'll come out of this funk, too.

Bronson's problem is getting behind, into a lot of long counts and having to come into hitters as a result. If you've watched he's elevating his pitches a bit, too, hanging the curve more than usual. That's all command. His curve still fools hitters when he's keeping it in the corners and low. It's also a matter of being just a bit "off" - that's all it takes for a Bronson Arroyo type to go from #2-#3 pitcher to dreck. A 10% change in command is what it boils down to. Command meaning both controlling the strike zone and consistently throwing quality pitches (as in not hanging the curve).

I'm convinced he can still have a solid season. I'd be much more concerned if he wasn't striking batters out and if he had never had this kind of slump before.

The predictions that he'll get worse as the weather gets warmer, that he's washed up, that he isn't suited for GAB or that he's suddenly not a good pitcher anymore are unfounded, imo. He is exactly what he is -a solid mid rotation starter that offsets the hard throwers well. He's in a slump. Curveballers are especially prone to spells like this. He'll snap out of it.

redsrule2500
04-21-2008, 04:41 AM
fantastic post and very ingteresting! Thanks for the info, and I agree!

mth123
04-21-2008, 05:17 AM
Good post Jake.

I agree that Arroyo hasn't lost his ability overnight and if he's healthy, he'll come out of it. If I were the Reds, with an extra starter on hand, I'd take the opportunity to give Arroyo a break. Let him rest a bit on a short DL stint, followed by a rehab start or two to get his command back. He was worked hard the last two seasons and the "freshening" of his arm can only help for the remainder of the long season. The resulting inning reduction for 2008, should be helpful for 2009 as well. It might be a worthwhile investment.

Sometimes a lack of command can be a signal of something wrong physically. If it isn't serious, the rest should allow him to snap back. If it is serious, he shouldn't be out there anyhow. If it isn't physical, holding his innings down now should still pay off later. He's not really helping the team by going out there and getting shelled, so sidelining him wouldn't be a big loss at this time.

I know we all want to get Fogg out of the rotation with Belisle back, but Arroyo has been just as bad so the rotation upgrade still exists and if Arroyo can come back at his expected effectiveness, it will be a long term win for this franchise. We're only talking about three or four more starts.

Falls City Beer
04-21-2008, 08:54 AM
The only thing recommending Arroyo right now is his K's. I realize it's only 4 starts, but frankly his poor command mixed with his power numbers/against are very worrisome. Something is going to have to change--this isn't just bad luck. This is a bad performance.

blumj
04-21-2008, 09:47 AM
The only thing recommending Arroyo right now is his K's. I realize it's only 4 starts, but frankly his poor command mixed with his power numbers/against are very worrisome. Something is going to have to change--this isn't just bad luck. This is a bad performance.
He's done this before, though. Some of you sound just like we did before the Sox traded him. I guess, at some point, one of his bad streaks will turn into a permanent condition, but probably not this soon. He's still relatively young, as long as he's healthy. The corresponding good streak is likely begin any time now.

Falls City Beer
04-21-2008, 10:11 AM
He's done this before, though. Some of you sound just like we did before the Sox traded him. I guess, at some point, one of his bad streaks will turn into a permanent condition, but probably not this soon. He's still relatively young, as long as he's healthy. The corresponding good streak is likely begin any time now.

He's done this before--after Narron's pushing him in start after start; in the heat of mid-summer when a flyball pitcher can expect to see more of his FBs turn into homers. I don't recall him struggling like this in a cold April. As I said, he's not been unlucky so far, he's been bad in earnest. If he turns it around, it will be because he's made some adjustments. I hope he does. But when it comes to pitching in Cincinnati, Murphy's Law prevails.

RedsManRick
04-21-2008, 10:20 AM
Great post Jake. Obviously it's impossible to tell the future, but control is something that comes and goes, and we've always known that Arroyo gets killed when he doesn't have it. It's fully reasonable to expect him to come around.

*BaseClogger*
04-21-2008, 10:22 AM
Good stuff. You know he's not going to give up 60 home runs this year--he'll be fine...

Also, hits don't appear to be luck-aided: 21.7% LD, .333 BABIP

Falls City Beer
04-21-2008, 10:23 AM
Good stuff. You know he's not going to give up 60 home runs this year--he'll be fine...

Not 60, but 35-40 is a distinct possibility.

coachw513
04-21-2008, 10:24 AM
A couple of questions arising from the discussion:

1. Is there data somewhere that suggests that Arroyo has struggled in cooler weather in the past (not simply April, but something that records that gametime temps were 60 or below, etc)??
2. As pitchers age, what is more likely to go- command or velocity??...Is a pitcher like Arroyo who relies so heavily on command of breaking stuff more likely to "fall off" or does history show the FB/Changeup pitcher falling faster because the velocity drop in the FB makes the change much more hittable??
3. Finally, is there a metric that demonstrates why so many of Bronson's mistakes are ending up as HR right now (other than the problems with command as indicated above)??...some guys make lots of mistakes, but don't give up many gopher balls, but on the other hand, Cueto is seemingly making few mistakes, but the ones he does are leaving the park??...is it simply FB/GB tendencies??...or are there other factors??

I tend not to know answers but am always led to ask more questions here...so this is in no way Socratic, as I do not know the answers...though IMHO Arroyo is still very much a positive in our rotation and as we view him in terms of economic performance...

RedsManRick
04-21-2008, 10:48 AM
Good stuff. You know he's not going to give up 60 home runs this year--he'll be fine...

Also, hits don't appear to be luck-aided: 21.7% LD, .333 BABIP

I'm slowly warming to the point that while LD% varies, it's not as "luck" driven as one might suspect. Todd Coffey is the perfect case study. When you don't have great command -- not control as in BB/9, but command as in the ball going where you want it to -- you end up leaving a disproportionate amount of pitches out over the heart of the plate. Those hung breaking pitches, straight fastballs down the middle, etc. get crushed with regularity.

With Arroyo's unique repertoire, a loss of command is deadly. It might lead to more strikeouts as guys fish a bit more, but it will also lead to walks and a lot of extra base hits. I'm confident he'll come around, but it's not going to be pretty until he does.

OnBaseMachine
04-21-2008, 10:57 AM
Very nice post Jake. I'm not ready to give up on Bronson yet either. I don't think it's reasonable for us to expect him to ever repeat his 2006 performance, but I do think he'll rebound to give us 200 innings of 4.30 ERA ball this season and that's fine as a number three or four starter.

TeamBoone
04-21-2008, 11:15 AM
If I were the Reds, with an extra starter on hand, I'd take the opportunity to give Arroyo a break. Let him rest a bit on a short DL stint, followed by a rehab start or two to get his command back. He was worked hard the last two seasons and the "freshening" of his arm can only help for the remainder of the long season.

Is Arroyo injured? I may be wrong, but they can't put him on the DL "just because"... can they?

Falls City Beer
04-21-2008, 11:17 AM
Is Arroyo injured? I may be wrong, but they can't put him on the DL "just because"... can they?

I don't know, but I'd guess the union wouldn't be too fond of a "just-because" DL stint; however, if the player and team agree it's in both groups' best interest, it would be a hard thing to stop.

RedlegJake
04-21-2008, 11:22 AM
I'm slowly warming to the point that while LD% varies, it's not as "luck" driven as one might suspect. Todd Coffey is the perfect case study. When you don't have great command -- not control as in BB/9, but command as in the ball going where you want it to -- you end up leaving a disproportionate amount of pitches out over the heart of the plate. Those hung breaking pitches, straight fastballs down the middle, etc. get crushed with regularity.

With Arroyo's unique repertoire, a loss of command is deadly. It might lead to more strikeouts as guys fish a bit more, but it will also lead to walks and a lot of extra base hits. I'm confident he'll come around, but it's not going to be pretty until he does.

Line Drive BA Against is high for all pitchers but so far it's .875 against for Arroyo. That's - well, that's hard to accomplish frankly. Almost out of sheer statistical weight I don't know if hitters can sustain that rate of success if he does nothing to improve, which I hope won't be the case. Actually, when you look at he raw numbers - 27 hits, 8 walks, 2 hbp, 6 homers in 21 innings you have to wonder how the heck he's kept his era below Josh Fogg's level. Because he can still pitch, that's why. He's squirming out of a lot of jams when he has to. He's getting into too many, though, and any pitcher that keeps getting in trouble inning after inning will see it roosting on the powerlines eventually.

coachw513
04-21-2008, 11:54 AM
Line Drive BA Against is high for all pitchers but so far it's .875 against for Arroyo. That's - well, that's hard to accomplish frankly. Almost out of sheer statistical weight I don't know if hitters can sustain that rate of success if he does nothing to improve, which I hope won't be the case.

At the continued risk of :rolleyes: as I ask the question, what is the normal rate for Line Drive BAA??...what is Arroyo's career LD BAA??

Finally, is Arroyo's LD% substantially up, or simply the BAA??

RedsManRick
04-21-2008, 12:03 PM
Type AVG SLG OPS ISO BABIP HR%
FB .265 .720 0.978 .455 .167 11.47
GB .236 .259 0.495 .023 .236 0.00
LD .719 .948 1.663 .229 .716 0.97

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/batted-ball-splits/

Arroyo's is getting a bit unlucky on those LD. You can be successful allowing GB and FB (though GB are preferable in a HR friendly park). But in the long run, unless you are giving up HR at a prolific pace, it's your LD rate that makes you or kills you. Arroyo's LD rate isn't good right now, but it's not terribly off from his career rate (20.3%).

Arroyo currently has a 22.2% HR/FB rate -- 2.5 times his career average. In 2007, among pitchers with at least 50 IP, Todd Coffey led MLB with a 26.1% HR/FB rate, followed by Victor Santos at 22.4% and John Rheinecker at 20.0%. Nobody else was north of 18.0%.

Bottom line is that his hit rate should come down a little bit, his walk rate should return to normal, and his HR rate most definitely will come down. He's still striking guys out and his walk rate, while elevated, is hardly disastrous. Let's see where he's at on June 1 -- or even May 1.

Again, if you subtract 3 ER from his current totals, he'd have a low 4's ERA and the conversation wouldn't be taking place. It's early and sample sizes are small. Certainly we should keep an eye on him, particularly his command, but it's WAY premature to start freaking out.

jojo
04-21-2008, 12:06 PM
At the continued risk of :rolleyes: as I ask the question, what is the normal rate for Line Drive BAA??...what is Arroyo's career LD BAA??

Finally, is Arroyo's LD% substantially up, or simply the BAA??

League average LD% is roughly 20% (varies a little from year to year). So 17% is really good and 23% is pretty bad.

For his career, Arroyo sits squarely at 20.3%. As a red he's roughly been at 21%.

Generally, I don't consider ball in play (BIP) tendencies to be luck driven. Their outcomes can be though (i.e. HR/FB rate will vary much more than a pitcher's FB%).

jojo
04-21-2008, 12:12 PM
Type AVG SLG OPS ISO BABIP HR%
FB .265 .720 0.978 .455 .167 11.47
GB .236 .259 0.495 .023 .236 0.00
LD .719 .948 1.663 .229 .716 0.97

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/batted-ball-splits/

Arroyo's is getting a bit unlucky on those LD. You can be successful allowing GB and FB (though GB are preferable in a HR friendly park). But in the long run, unless you are giving up HR at a prolific pace, it's your LD rate that makes you or kills you. Arroyo's LD rate isn't good right now, but it's not terribly off from his career rate (20.3%).

Arroyo currently has a 22.2% HR/FB rate -- 2.5 times his career average. In 2007, among pitchers with at least 50 IP, Todd Coffey led MLB with a 26.1% HR/FB rate, followed by Victor Santos at 22.4% and John Rheinecker at 20.0%. Nobody else was north of 18.0%.

Bottom line is that his hit rate should come down a little bit, his walk rate should return to normal, and his HR rate most definitely will come down. He's still striking guys out and his walk rate, while elevated, is hardly disastrous. Let's see where he's at on June 1 -- or even May 1.

Again, if you subtract 3 ER from his current totals, he'd have a low 4's ERA and the conversation wouldn't be taking place. It's early and sample sizes are small. Certainly we should keep an eye on him, particularly his command, but it's WAY premature to start freaking out.

I tend to think that Arroyo is being less "unlucky" than he's having location issues and getting punished for them.

RedsManRick
04-21-2008, 12:19 PM
I tend to think that Arroyo is being less "unlucky" than he's having location issues and getting punished for them.

I agree and said as much earlier -- citing Todd Coffey as the example. I'm coming around on your take of the interpretation of LD% spikes when paired with a scouting report suggesting command problems.

That said, I'm not sure that there's really that much differentiation between a LD from a pitcher going well and one struggling such that we would expect to have his BA on LD be so much higher than expected. Allowing the LD and HR on FB in the first place is a problem and symptomatic of his command problems. But that his LD are turning in to hits at a higher rate than expected strikes me as likely a random variation issue that should iron itself out.

RedlegJake
04-21-2008, 12:23 PM
BAA (on line drives) is 130 points HIGHER than Fogg's, 240 points higher than Harang's. With Line Drives you expect a 650-750 range. It's a stat that is hard to drive much higher simply because you're closing in on the edge of random variance -ie. the smash hit right at a guy. Very few of BA's line drives allowed have been at someone. Meaning he's struggling and being a bit unlucky, too. That's why I think it'll fall back. BA's BAA on grounders is .259 compared to last year's .176. A little unlucky? Maybe but when he is hit, he's hit hard. He is able to get guys chasing stuff when he breaks the curve into the low areas just in and just out of the zone but he's getting too many pitches elevated and breaking between the thighs and belt, imo. The "good" Bronson is in there but he's inconsistent so hitters are waiting on the "bad".

*BaseClogger*
04-21-2008, 12:59 PM
I'm slowly warming to the point that while LD% varies, it's not as "luck" driven as one might suspect. Todd Coffey is the perfect case study. When you don't have great command -- not control as in BB/9, but command as in the ball going where you want it to -- you end up leaving a disproportionate amount of pitches out over the heart of the plate. Those hung breaking pitches, straight fastballs down the middle, etc. get crushed with regularity.

With Arroyo's unique repertoire, a loss of command is deadly. It might lead to more strikeouts as guys fish a bit more, but it will also lead to walks and a lot of extra base hits. I'm confident he'll come around, but it's not going to be pretty until he does.

I wasn't saying his LD% was luck, rather that his BABIP isn't high due to luck; it's due to his high LD%. I can see what you are saying about Todd Coffey, but is his poor command affecting his BABIP as much as his HR/FB%? I was addressing his BABIP more specifically than getting crushed--extra base hits.