Why Mets K-Rod is Struggling According To ESPN's Mark Simon

Gregory JeromeContributor IJuly 19, 2010

NEW YORK - MAY 12:  Roger Bernadina #2  of the Washington Nationals rounds the bases after hitting his 9th inning go ahead home run against Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York Mets during their game on May 12, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

According to ESPN writer Mark Simon, what has made K-Rod so devastating in his career has been his combination of very effective breaking balls and change-ups in two-strike counts.  In his June 4th article, Simon shows that K-Rod's breaking pitches aren't nearly as effective as they had been in the past.  As a result, K-Rod is having much more difficulty getting outs this year.  This is obvious for us Mets fans.

The article recalls how K-Rod was deadly in 2004 against opponents with 0-2 counts, letting only 3 out of 75 opponents get on base (.040 OBP).  As of June 4th 2010, opponents now have a .308 OBP after K-Rod had gotten ahead of them 0-2.  He's simply not putting them away the way he used to.

What has happened? Simon used ESPN's Insider Edge video review data to take a much closer look at what's happening when K-Rod gets two strikes on a hitter.

He concluded that while K-Rod's fastball is down from 97 mph to 91, what may be more problematic is a greatly reduced effectiveness of his breaking pitches in two strike counts.

In fact, Simon's data shows that opponents' batting averages against K-Rod's breaking pitches in two strike counts have dramatically increased over the last three years.

.115 in 2008

.286 in 2009

.333 in 2010 (as of a month ago)

Simon's conclusion suggests that while hitters were at K-Rod's mercy when he could use any of four pitches to strike you out with, it's a different story when it's just the fastball and the change up.

I will be very curious to see how effective his curve and slider are as "out" pitches from now on.