The curious case of Kevin Slowey

A lot of people (including me) have been expecting greatness this year by Kevin Slowey, after his great pitching last season, followed by a tremendous spring training performance.

In the first 2 games of the 2009 season, Kevin Slowey is pitching at a rate of: 11.1 IP, 22 H, 10 ER, 1 BB, 7 K (7.94 ERA, 2.03 WHIP, 5.56 K/9, 7 K/BB), promoting comparisons to Livan Hernandez by a certain Twins' beat writer.

How worried should the Twins be about Slowey?

My answer is: not that worried. Here are the reasons:

  1. Everyone can have a bad 2 games in a row. Here are some examples:

    • 2007 Cy Young award winner, Jake Peavy, in two consecutive September games that season produced this line: 11 IP 12 H 10 ER 5 BB 9 K (8.18 ERA).

    • 2004 Cy Young award winner, Roger Clemens, in two consecutive June games that season produced this line: 10.2 IP 20 H 10 ER, 3 BB, 9 K (8.41 ERA).

    • 2005 Cy Young award winner Bartolo Colon in Two consecutive games in July that season produced this line: 11 IP, 15 H, 12 ER, 6 BB, 7 K (9.82 ERA)

  2. Slowey's BABIP so far has been .421. This is much higher than the league average of .295 and is about to regress towards that average sooner or later. This means that Slowey has been very unlucky in balls hitter put in play.

  3. Stowey's stuff is not that different from last year in these two games with one exception:
    Here are his pitches, percentage of time he threw each and (average velocity),from FanGraphs:

    Season FB SL CB CH

    2008 66.3% (89.9) 14.0% (85.7) 11.9% (74.3) 7.8% (82.8)
    2009 62.0% (90.0) 22.3% (83.3) 9.2% (74.5) 6.5% (83.3)

    All of his pitches are pretty close to 2008 other than his slider that has lost about 2.5 mph and he has been throwing it almost twice as frequently in 2009 as he did in 2008. This might be what we are seeing right now, and it is a very easy adjustment: throw fewer sliders.

    Also the results of his pitches other than batted balls has been very similar to 2008:

    Season BB/9 K/9 K/BB
    2008 1.3 6.9 5.13
    2009 0.8 5.6 7.00

    if anything, he seems to have better command in these two games that he had last season

My conclusion is that Slowey will rebound very soon and will end up having the great season that a lot of us expected from him. What do you think?


Marv said...

Beyond merely hoping, I think you're right.
Nothing in those stats says that this year is very different except the BABIP and the K/BB. As you point out the BABIP has to fall, and if the K/BB stays where it is that suggests a better season for Slowey.
Seems unreasonable to say if his K/9 has fallen due to control, as that would affect the aforementioned stats.
Time will tell, but if I could bet on whether Slowey will have a big year I'd still pony up the money.

Erin-Kathleen said...

I think you're right, Slowey will be just fine. I actually think all of the starters will be fine. The bullpen, on the other hand, is something the Twins should be concerned about.

thrylos98 said...

Actually, I am not yet worried about the pen. I think that Crain and Nathan would be fine as the 8th and 9th inning guys (if Gardy uses them as such and not bring them in in blow outs, like he did with Crain yesterday). Breslow will rebound and one of Ayala or Guerrier with him would handle the 7th. Dickie and Humber in mop up might be ok. But Gardy has to assign roles and keep them instead of mixing and matching...