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  1. Other things to note about Carmona’s performance this year…

    .271 baBIP is the lowest of his career, averaging .299. It was .281 when he had a great season a few years ago. His SO% is still way down, his GB/FB is 0.5 lower than it was in 2007 and his contact rate is up several percent. Also, he’s getting more looking strikes than usual, throwing fewer strikes than league average and his first-strike percentage is also lower than usual (and 3% below league average).

    Carmona’s little rebirth is nice, but one can’t help but wonder if the various luck factors are playing a role here. His control still isn’t good and his peripherals don’t really look anything like they did 3 years ago, with noticeable drops just about everywhere.

    I think he’s having a good run that isn’t sustainable and that he’ll regress soon enough.

    Comment by Tyler — June 4, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

  2. You have add context to the metrics or you ignore intent. Acta and Belcher preach pounding the zone early in the count, which accounts quite a bit for Carmona’s solid early season. Carmona’s fall was a direct result of hitter discipline, after 2007 they simply stopped swinging at the sinker and his control was gone. Carmona’s success depends on hitters swinging at his pitches. To make them swing he has to change the ‘book’ on him by pounding the zone early in the count, which he is doing. The metrics show a high contact rate, which is exactly what he needs right now.

    This looks like a major step toward a return to form. If Carmona can make hitters anxious to swing, he wins. Being solid this season is a major step toward being elite in the future.

    Comment by Karl — June 4, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

  3. Pounding the zone? He has thrown less pitches in the zone than his career average and has simply matched his career average of strikes thrown. And while he may be making batters anxious to swing he isn’t making them swing, or at least swing and not make contact, as he has his lowest career swinging strike rate at 5.7%. Carmona is a totally different pitcher than he was in 2007; he throws slower, his pitches have different movement and he throws different pitches altogether. He has the made adjustments to walk fewer batters, which is a huge step in the right direction from 2008 and 2009, but in the process he’s transformed into a complete pitch-to-contact pitcher with a good but no longer mindblowing GB rate. This isn’t to say that Carmona doesn’t have value because, as Jack noted, 6 million for a higher end BOR starter isn’t all that bad on the open market; it just doesn’t make sense for Indians pay that sort of money given their need for upside pitching, payroll restrictions and current odds of contention (ie: they don’t need to make marginal upgrades in the rotation at this point in time). I’m skeptical that the Indians will seriously entertain offers for Carmona, especially how they have handled things over the past 2 months, but I cannot why it wouldn’t be in their best interest to.

    Comment by davemcgr — June 4, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

  4. Perhaps ‘pounding the zone’ was the wrong phrase, but I was trying to reply to Tyler’s assertion that we should expect a regression from Carmona soon. As you note, he is pitching to contact now, due in part to his move to the left side of the rubber to try to better attack lefties (who were killing him) and due to the Acta/Belcher mantra of throwing strikes early in the count. His ERA and WHIP are back to respectable levels, not too far off ’07, actually. He’s only 26, and there is still some upside from where he is today. I don’t see the Indians dealing him.

    Comment by Karl — June 5, 2010 @ 9:51 am

  5. I didn’t mean like a BIG regression where he’s going to be a 0 WAR pitcher, Karl. I guess I wasn’t clear, but I don’t think that given the way he’s pitching at the moment, with his ERA noticeably outperforming his FIP/xFIP and maintaining a baBIP I don’t expect to see him hold through the remainder of the season, I figure he’s going to regress away from where he is right now.

    I figure he’s going to be a 4.00+ ERA pitcher by the end of the year, maybe his WHIP will rise a little, you know? He’s a valuable pitcher, but I think he’s outperforming his peripherals at the moment and even as a pitch-to-contact guy, he’s eventually going to get smacked around some and his value will drop a little. That’s all.

    Comment by Tyler — June 5, 2010 @ 10:56 am

  6. Is there a pitching coach that does not preach getting ahead in the count?

    The real strategy is HOW you get ahead.

    Comment by Circlechange11 — June 5, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

  7. Fair point. We’ll see as the season progresses, but my non-statistical side [is that permitted here ;-)] feels a resurgence that might hold for the season. Carmona fell hard, and he can’t get all the way back in one season. Baby steps. He’s walking (no pun intended) in the right direction. Throw strikes, get hit a little, go 10-9 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP and that’s major progress heading into next season.

    Comment by Karl — June 5, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

  8. The zone as defined by this site has been shrinking for years, so direct year-to-year comparisons can not be made. Weighted by the number of pitches Carmona has thrown in each season, the 2006-10 league average is 50.2% with Carmona at 49.7%, a tick below average. This year, Carmona’s zone percentage is 49.5% versus a league average of 47.4%.

    Barring potential stadium issues (both Los Angeles teams curiously registered insanely low zone percentages for both hitters and pitchers in 2007) or other errors, the numbers do actually suggest that Fausto is hitting the strike zone at career-high levels.

    Comment by Jay — June 6, 2010 @ 10:09 am

  9. Karl, your non-statistical analysis will not be respected here.

    Your projections do not have merit just because they “feel right” to you. You may believe in your psychic powers, but that doesn’t cut it for the rest of us.

    I’m not trying to attack you as a human being. You seem like a nice fellow. But you’re tearing the intellectual fiber of this site.

    Comment by fanofdefenseagain — June 6, 2010 @ 10:31 am

  10. It’s one thing to think he’ll improve based on qualitative metrics and it’s another to think that he’ll be able to maintain a low ERA with so many good luck indicators. Also, it’s kind of crazy that you seem to think that Carmona being a pitch-for-contact pitcher somehow translates into being a front of the rotation one.

    Carmona has looked really good throughout his last 2 starts, so there is some hope, but on the season as a whole he has been relatively underwhelming.

    Comment by davemcgr — June 6, 2010 @ 10:54 am

  11. If that was a serious comment it was immensely out of line. If I’m missing a joke then I apologize.

    Comment by Jay — June 6, 2010 @ 11:02 am

  12. Karl, I feel what you’re saying. The thing that’s bugging me is that Carmona is NOT “pounding the zone,” he’s throwing his career-average Strike%, which is below league average. In fact, apart from 2007, he’s been below league average every year, so there’s nothing to suggest that he’s a) doing anything different from the years aside from 2007 or b) pounding the zone more than usual.

    That’s what I was saying; he’s about where he always has been as far as throwing strikes, he’s having the second-worst season of his career as far as throwing first-pitch strikes, he’s seeing more 3-0 counts than the league average (6%, for the third year in a row), and he is again below league average in 0-2 counts (he’s seeing 20%, which is the second-best of his career, and he’s only been AT league average once, in 2007, never above).

    So while I totally get what you’re saying, by every object measure, the stuff you feel he’s doing, he isn’t. If he was, I could definitely see an improvement happening, but Fausto is roughly where he always has been; he’s below-average at throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count, and he’s getting hit a lot more than he usually does (contact-wise) and he’s getting really lucky in a lot of other areas.

    TL;DR – I’m so hesitant to accept the idea that he’s having a sustainable resurgence, because he just isn’t doing anything different apart from being luckier than in most years.

    Comment by Tyler — June 6, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

  13. This year Carmona is hitting this site’s ever tightening interpretation of the strike zone at a rate that is the highest of his career relative to league average. Pounding the zone early may or may not be accurate or a reason for his increased success, but I can’t find anything in the numbers to refute the assertion that his pitches are finding the strike zone at a rate above both his and the league’s average.

    Comment by Jay — June 7, 2010 @ 12:21 am

  14. FanGraphs has his Zone% at the second-lowest of his career at 49.5%, which is right around his 49.7% career average. It also has him posting the second-worst FStrike% of his career at 54.7%, well below what he was managing in 2007.

    It does show that he’s about 2% above average in Zone% this year, a marked departure from last year and 2006 and still a noticeable one from 2008. Kind of in-line with 2007. And his O-Swing% certainly supports that he’s doing something right as a pitcher.

    But is still recording his overall strike percentage as 62%, the second worst of his career and a bit below league average.

    So I guess I was wrong and I was only looking at his overall strike percentage, which isn’t that impressive. I guess it’s because guys are swinging at fewer of his pitches in the zone, fewer of his pitches overall, and swinging a LOT at his stuff out of the zone because they’re putting the bat on the ball out of the zone nearly 3 in 4 times. Batters are making contact, according to FG, 87% of the time (85% according to, which isn’t healthy, even for a pitch-to-contact guy (look at Roy Halladay, for example). More importantly, he’s not getting all that many grounders compared to 07 and 08, which kind of makes it even worse because he’s posting 17% LD for the second straight season.

    Guys are hitting Carmona pretty well; they’re seeing his pitches out of the zone as hittable and they’re smacking them. They’re hitting his pitches in the zone at the highest rate of his career, they’re not grounding out, they’re lining the ball…

    Anyway, yeah, what happened there was I was looking at Strike Percentage and not Zone Percentage, which led to my erroneous comment, my bad.

    I do wonder how his Zone% squares with his below-average Strike% and the fact that he’s getting behind in the count a lot and not seeing a lot of 0-2 counts.

    Comment by Tyler — June 7, 2010 @ 11:32 am

  15. Heh, an excellent opportunity to watch him coming up right now, actually…

    Comment by Tyler — June 7, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

  16. So far, Fausto’s thrown less than 57% strikes over 106 pitches against the BoSox and walked 5 guys. He hasn’t looked all that great, even let a run in on an errant throw. He’s managed a bunch of ground balls but he’s not doing so well.

    Comment by Tyler — June 7, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

  17. So, it’s a single-game sample and consequently only limited value can be extracted from observing just the one game, but it does at least follow a bunch of trends. It wasn’t a pretty game for Carmona; he wasn’t hitting the zone at all, and he walked 6 guys. Of the 3 runs he allowed, only one was earned, but it was his own errant throw that allowed it. He threw 111 pitches across 6 innings (he pitched into the 7th) and threw less than 55% strikes. 8 GB to 13 FB, 3 line drives, wasn’t getting a lot of swinging strikes (but quite a few looking, 20), gave up 4 doubles and managed only one GIDP (although that’s not entirely his fault and still represents almost 13% of the groundballs). His game score would have you believe it was a decent game, but this is something that happens to Fausto because control has never been a feature part of his game.

    Again, one game, but this is the kind of thing I was talking about: he’s prone to walks and he’s not getting the same grounders that he was in 2007, and this game is a good microcosm of why I think he’ll eventually regress to a certain degree. He has great raw stuff but he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to with it on a consistent basis and he’s definitely not pounding the zone.

    Comment by Tyler — June 8, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

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