26 and Counting: How Jeremy Guthrie Is Allowing HRs at an Alarming Rate

Tom RichardsCorrespondent IAugust 1, 2009

Kevin Youkilis hammers a hanging 2-1 slider into the left field seats at Camden Yards, giving the Red Sox a 6-5 lead over the Baltimore Orioles.

This story has become all too common this season for the Orioles' number one starter Jeremy Guthrie.

Guthrie has allowed a career and American League high 26 home runs this season, including three on Friday night in a loss to the Boston Red Sox.  This certainly is not what the Orioles need or expected from the veteran right-hander.

"The only thing I can think of is I don’t have great movement on my pitches,” Guthrie said. “I think I’ve always been a pitcher who’s been around the zone like I have this year. But when you don’t have that little bit extra, when you don’t have any movement, which I haven’t had hardly at all this entire season, that’s the only reason I can come up with.”

Guthrie certainly has been around the strike zone this season, as the number of walks he has issued hasn't increased significantly from previous seasons. The case seems to be that he is making too many mistake pitches up in the zone, and the hitters are making him pay the price.

At 30 years old, Guthrie is the veteran starting pitcher in the Orioles starting rotation, a rotation that at one point featured as many as four rookies. Remarkably, Guthrie is also the only remaining pitcher in the starting rotation since opening day.

Hopefully Guthrie can work with pitching coach Rick Kranitz and correct a mechanical issue that is behind the reason for this increase in the long balls. Not coincidentally, Guthrie's earned run average this season (5.37) is at its all time high during his three year career with the Orioles.

Guthrie is eligible for arbitration next season, and if the season continues to progress like this then the Orioles won't have to worry about a big increase in his salary for next season.