Friday, August 3, 2012

Contemplating Sam Deduno

Sam Deduno reacts as left fielder Ryan Doumit makes
a catch to end the sixth inning Thursday in Boston.
Results matter. Wins, losses, runs allowed, runs scored, runs denied. The outcomes are the point of the games.

How one gets those results matter too, because the process is predictive.

Sam Deduno threw six shutout innings Thursday evening in Fenway Park. He is now 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA.

And he's doing it all wrong.

On Thursday, Deduno allowed just two hits. He also walked four and struck out just one. In his five major league starts, a total of just 29 innings -- yes, he's averaging less than six innings per start despite that gaudy ERA -- he has walked 20, struck out 19. More walks than strikeouts.

This is not sustainable. No pitcher can maintain that low an ERA while walking more men than he strikes out. No pitcher can maintain that kind of ERA walking more than six men per nine innings.

And the problem for Deduno is that this is who he is. This is why he's a 29-year-old who has kicked around the minors for eight seasons. His minor league walk rate for his career is 5.1 BB/9.

The walk rate by itself tells us that he's not exactly pounding the strike zone. By my calculations, Deduno has thrown 492 pitches for the Twins. Just 288 of them have been strikes (called, swinging, fouled off, put in play), while 204 have been called balls: roughly 58 percent strikes, 41 percent balls (rounding error). In contrast, Scott Diamond has thrown 66 percent strikes.

The buzz phrase has been "effectively wild." That can work for an individual game, for a month's worth of starts. It's not the basis for sustained success.

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