Friday, April 20, 2007

Who are you and what have you done with John Patterson?

In 2005, John Patterson was a revelation. He was dominant, especially at home, and was one of the primary reasons the Nationals overachieved so tremendously in the first half of the season. His equivalent ERA (ERA adjusted and converted to a neutral-park major league equivalent performance) was a brilliant 3.68, and his ratio stats suggested similar brilliance: 8.4 K per 9 innings; 2.85 Ks per every BB. Opponent batters' lines against him were anemic: .233/.298/.358.

The pitcher who claims to be John Patterson this year is not the same person we saw on the mound in 2005. Here is a comparison of his stats in 2005 and 2007:

YearIPERAK/9K/BBOpp. Avg.Opp. OBPOpp. SLG

The 2007 stats are downright frightening. If this is what we expected for the rest of the year, Patterson would be sent down to AAA on a bullet train.

Don't worry, we don't expect this to continue, but something is clearly wrong with Patterson. Particularly disturbing is his falling strikeout rates, which suggest that he doesn't have the same speed on his fastball and can't fool anyone with his curve. Are the elbow and forearm problems that shut him down in 2006 plaguing him now? Who knows, but it's not hard to conclude that they are. The Post notes that Patterson's fastball topped out at 89 mph, 5 mph slower than his fastball before his injury. Patterson himself acknowledges that his problem is physical, but says he's just building arm strength.

We hope that's true, because if it's not it's very bad news for the Nationals. Not only was Patterson set to be their best pitcher, but he also was set to be one of their most valuable trade commodities. Let's hope that arm strength comes sometime very soon.

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