Using the best technology available to us, SlumpBot .200 identifies a few players who are currently having a bit of trouble and then offers solutions for performance recovery.
Data: 10 starts, 4-5, 6.75 ERA, 14 HR
Malfunction: As you might've heard, Moyer is 46 years old. Last year was an unexpected triumph for Moyer, his best season since his 20-win season in 2003 at the age of 40. But this year, his ERA is more than three runs higher, and it's looking like the end of the line for the old left-handed battlehorse. He just won his 250th game, but that's likely to be his last major milestone.
Diagnosis: He's averaging 2.4 homers per nine innings. When you're giving up that many taters, it almost doesn't matter how well you're pitching the rest of the time: you're going to wind up giving up a lot of runs. His strikeout and walk rates aren't too different from last year, but he's giving up more hits, thanks to a slightly elevated Batting Average on Balls in Play (.318, above his career average of .287), and that means more baserunners.
Nine of the 14 homers he's surrendered this season have been solo shots — not bad, considering his 1.60 WHIP — but he's given up at least one homer in all but one of his starts this year. Unsurprisingly, it was one of his only effective starts of the year. Of course, with an average fastball around 81 mph, it's awfully hard to avoid throwing meatballs. It looks like his lack of velocity is finally catching up with him.
Reboot Directions: "The final result's not there," Moyer said after his 250th win. "It's a work in progress." Unfortunately, that progress is taking him closer to his 50th birthday, and he can't avoid Father Time forever. His 250th win came on his best start of the year, but tonight he'll face the Dodgers, who crushed him three weeks ago. If it weren't for the Phillies' paper-thin pitching staff and the respect he's earned over a great career, he might be on the breadline already.
Which other players are currently in need of SlumpBot's assistance?
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Data: 2-6, 7.42 ERA, 36/41 K/BB
Malfunction: Two years after finishing fourth in the Cy Young vote, Fausto has what the Akron Beacon-Journal calls "an inability to retire major league batters with any sort of consistency." That sums it up in a nutshell.
Diagnosis: For the second year in a row, Fausto has more walks than strikeouts, which you just can't do. As the Beacon-Journal writes, he has two problems: "an inability to throw strikes and a penchant for giving up home runs." His strike percentage has dropped for two straight years, from 64 percent in 2007 to 61 in '08 to 58 in '09, which is one reason why his walk rate has climbed two straight years. He's giving up 6.1 BB/9 innings this year, which is dangerously high. This year, despite his heavy sinker, he's giving up a lot more dingers — 1.3 HR/9 — which can happen when you have no idea where the ball will wind up.
Reboot Directions: Manager Eric Wedge says that Carmona has been throwing well on the side but has trouble bringing that into games; Carmona insists his confidence is still high. His velocity is near where it was last year, which means that he's not likely injured. If he can throw strikes in the bullpen but not when facing major league hitters, then action needs to be taken, either a demotion to the bullpen or a demotion to the minors.
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Data: .194/.269/.311, 5 HR, 20 RBI
Malfunction: If it weren't for teammate Troy Tulowitzki(notes), who's hitting almost as poorly, Atkins would have been sent back to AAA already. Atkins may have saved his job with a two-homer game last night — it raised his OPS by 43 points overnight — but he's still below the Mendoza line, and he and Tulowitzki's slumps were a major reason for the putrid offense that got manager Clint Hurdle fired.
Diagnosis: Atkins has been trending downward for three years since his career year in 2006, with decreases each year to his average, OBP, SLG, HR, and RBI. Rockies bloggers are saying his bat speed is "swiftly declining" and noticeably slower" and that's a problem that's awfully hard to fix. He's got a BABIP of .199, which is so low that it suggests the slump is more than just extended bad luck. He's actually doing slightly better with RISP — .242/.338/.355 — but those numbers are still awful.
Reboot Directions: "No one puts more pressure on me than I do. I know what I'm capable of," Atkins said before his homerfest, and that may not be helping matters. He may not be capable of what he was once capable of, and despite the "Atkins busts out of slump" stories, if his bat speed's declined then there's not much the Rockies will get out of continuing to play him. Make sure he rebuilds his swing before getting back into the lineup.
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Who else in the bigs is slumping right now?
Jeff Francoeur(notes), Atlanta Braves: Despite a game-tying home run in the ninth against the Cubs this week, the former SI cover boy now has a .648 OPS over his last 206 games. The Braves' recent trade for Nate McLouth(notes) doesn't directly affect Francoeur for now — but it may signal that the front office prefers outfielders who can hit to those who can't.
Francisco Liriano(notes), Minnesota Twins: He's striking people out but still walking too many, and he's already matched his home run total from last season. Walks and long flies will kill you, even if you're a lefty.
Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks: Like Troy Tulowitzki, Young had a great rookie campaign in 2007 but failed to make improvements in 2008, and this year looks absolutely lost at the plate. If it weren't for Justin Upton(notes), the D-Backs' outfield would be a disaster.