Juan Cruz Is Royally Awful

Josh DugganCorrespondent IJune 10, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 30:  Juan Cruz #37 of the Kansas City Royals reacts after getting a game-ending strikeout against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 30, 2009 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals beat the Blue Jays 8-6. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)

It is getting harder and harder to pay attention to what is going on with the Kansas City Royals right now.

Last night, I left for the gym with the Royals having presumably driven Cleveland's Cliff Lee from the game in the top of the sixth, working his pitch count up over 100. They were leading 4-0 and were about to get to work on the hapless Indians bullpen.

I got back, watched some basketball, got dinner, and then thought to look at the box score.

What the $@#&?

I don't even want to know how the Indians managed to come back, let alone score eight runs after having been held scoreless through five. Apparently, some of the blame lays at the feet of the Royals' suspect defense once again, while the rest can be split up amongst the bullpen, chiefly Juan Cruz.

Cruz, whose signing I was very excited about, has been positively abysmal over his past seven outings.

On May 17, his ERA sat at a stellar 1.45. Since that game (but before this past debacle), his line read: 6 G, 5.0 IP, 3 K, 10 H, 5 BB, 9 R (all earned), and opponents hit .455/.556/.727/1.283 off of him.

If you would like the ERA and WHIP translated for you, that is 16.20 and 3.00, respectively.

And that was in his six appearances before this past evening's.

When you add in the one-third of an inning in which he allowed three earned runs on a single/fielder's choice/walk/hit-by-pitch sequence (all of whom of course scored on a Mark DeRosa grand slam off of Jamey Wright on the second pitch he saw), his ERA over his past seven outings is a whopping 20.26 and his WHIP is 3.37.

That ERA that worked its way down to 1.45 on May 17 is at 5.62 less than a month later. His WHIP that was under 1.00 at that point is now 1.42.

The more troubling thing is that before the shellacking on Tuesday, Cruz's BABIP was a scant .228 and his FIP 4.76. His K/BB was a worrisome 1.07. His K/9 is less than half of what it was last year and the year before. In fact, it is more than 1.50 lower than in any season.

While I am surely making too much out of a small sample size of stats, it is hard to write this all off as being especially unlucky. If anything, that BABIP indicates something very much to the contrary. Furthermore, the drop in strikeouts is deeply concerning.

Perhaps the most telling stat of all is his o-swing percentage. In his exceptionally effective 2007 and 2008 campaigns, Cruz was inducing o-swing percentages of 24.7 and 30.1. This season it is 18.9 percent, which makes me wonder if there is something amiss. Maybe he is tipping his pitches now. His contact percentage is up to 76.1 from 66.0 last year.

Whatever is going on with Cruz is seriously concerning me, and I can only hope that it works itself out. He did cost the Royals their second-round draft pick, after all.

At least the draft is happening. That will give me something to write about that doesn't make me want to set myself on fire.