Braves Tim Hudson had a rough outing Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Should The Braves Be Concerned About Tim Hudson?

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Tim Hudson’s awful May continued when he got hammered in Toronto on Monday.  So now the question on a lot of lips is, What’s the matter with Huddy?  The answer’s nothing really. You don’t agree I know so let me expand.

A look at the numbers

Huddy was without question the weak link in our March rotation. How Bad was he? In his last four starts he gave up 29 hits and allowed 19 earned runs in his 19 1/3 innings while pitching to an ERA of 8.69 and a WHIP of 1.761. That’s not the Hudson we’ve come to expect.  So obviously it’s. . .

Theories abound

I’ve heard folks say he’s lost velocity. Others including myself wondered if he might be hurt and fighting through it. Some thought it was just a sign that the venerable Hudson had suddenly lost it ala Derek Lowe 2011. I looked at his May numbers and compared them to April, May last year and September 2010 when his ERA was 5.32 and his WHIP1.386, his worst post surgery month until now. Here’s the news.

Velocity?

While the speed of his split and his sinker both dropped since 2010 and the split is down from May 2012, everything else is still within spitting distance of his usual numbers. For those who need a numbers fix, here are those numbers.

Pitch Velocity May-13 `Apr 13 `May 12 10-Sep
Sinker 89.7 0.3      -0.1    -1     
Cutter 84.9 0.3      -0.6    N/A
Four Seam 89.8 0.9     0     -0.3    
Splitter 80.9 0.2     -0.9    -3.5    
Curve 76.2 0.1     -0.4    0.6   

So if the speed is fine what happened to those pitches?

I have a lot – make that WHOLE lot of numbers to support this but, rather than bore you more than I have already I’ll cut to the chase.  Hudson is leaving his pitches in the middle of the plate and the hitters aren’t missing them. Nothing more, nothing less. And, it’s not new.

If Hudson is going to have a bad month, that month will be. . ..May. . .or September, those months are the ones with his highest career ERA.  But lets ignore that for now okay? His really bad month can happen any time.

This is Hudson’s 15th season and 11 times he’s had a month with an ERA over 5.28, and six times he’s had an ERA of 6.35 or higher; six happened in his first five years. As he matured they became less frequent. His worst month was July of 2006 when he posted an 8.80 ERA and that followed a June with a 5.87 ERA. For Huddy the summer of 2006 was especially hot.  So while this May was bad, it wasn’t a record worst for Huddy.

Month Year W L W-L% ERA G
Aug 1999 3 0 1.000 5.35 6
Mar/Apr 2000 3 2 .600 5.28 6
Aug 2000 2 3 .400 7.76 5
Mar/Apr 2001 2 3 .400 6.35 6
May 2002 0 4 .000 7.30 6
Sep/Oct 2004 2 2 .500 5.67 7
June 2005 0 2 .000 7.90 3
Mar/Apr 2006 1 2 .333 5.87 5
Jul 2006 2 2 .500 8.80 6
Sep/Oct 2010 2 4 .333 5.32 7
May 2013 1 3 .250 7.33 5

Why does it happen? If I knew that I’d make a lot more money than I do now. Is his arm slot a little off? Not noticeably. The pitches aren’t moving as much so perhaps his grip has change a tiny bit. How the heck do you measure that? Maybe he’s just tired for some reason and not getting on top of the sinker and split. That’s what it looks like but, why in May? Again, I don’t know. The thing to remember he’s been through this – exactly this – 11 times before and come back to form rather quickly. Four bad outings doesn’t mean he’s hurt or over the hill, it means he’s in a slump.  Unlike Derek Lowe who never really had a big hole in game until suddenly he lost his ability locate that hard sinker and sharp slider, Hudson is still throwing with close to the same speed and movement he had last  year and in 2011.

That’s A Wrap

I’m confident Hudson will be fine but I am still concerned out the Braves lack of pitching depth. The next two starters would be Sean Gilmartin and. . .? Gilmartin isn’t ready. His walk rate has been climbing since he went to Gwinnett and his 4.06 ERA and 1.490 WHIP don’t bode well for a rapid ascent to Atlanta. I know that Brandon Beachy is on his way back but how many teams get through 162 games using five or even six starters? Very few and those that do win world series, White Sox, Giants etc.  In 2o12 there were 329 starters used in MLB, about 10.3 per team.  Atlanta is the only team in the MLB in 2013 to use less than six starters and we will pass the 6 starter mark by the ASG. Kris Medlen took one off the back of his leg tonight, not serious but things such as that can cost a start or two or three. So we will likely need a seventh at some point and maybe an eighth. I for one am not sure where those guys come from. We are short of trade chip and aren’t likely to trade the ones that would bring us a big reward. Our payroll is stretched thin and big contracts are unlikely to be taken on. Huddy will be fine but seeing how the rest of this plays out will be nothing if not interesting.

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