For many Oakland A's fans, Dallas Braden has been a pleasant surprise as a top of the rotation starter for the A's, despite a 3-5 record and a 3.67 ERA.
But his record is deceiving.
The A's themselves have been shutout three times when Braden has taken the mound.
In another game, the A's only scored one run.
In his last start against the Tampa Bay Rays, he gave up just three runs. He didn't lose the ball game as it was yet another impressive outing for Braden.
Even with the strong showing, there's a major problem with Braden, especially in his loss to the Rays. What hurt him was the fact that once he got two strikes, he wasn't able to put the Rays' batters away.
It happened in tonight's game against the Seattle Mariners as well.
He had Yuniesky Betancourt, but he left a pitch to him that was very hittable. It got hit, and eventually cost him because he ended up giving up a solid single to Adrian Beltre who he had two strikes on.
Mike Sweeney took a hittable fastball to right field for a double, which scored one. The very first pitch to Russell Branyan was way too hittable as well, scoring Beltre who was on third.
But Sweeney fell while rounding third base and wasn't able to score, giving the Mariners a two run lead.
The next batter that was up was Jose Lopez, who grounded into an inning-ending double play.
So, why wasn't Branyan—who has been destroying the A's pitching—walked?
With Braden's fastball, it wasn't a good matchup with a fastball-hitting Branyan up at the plate.
In order for Braden to become even more successful on the mound, he needs to start becoming a bulldog out there. Once he gets two strikes on the batter, he needs to put them away. Otherwise, he's going to be giving up too many cheap hits and runs.
Once Braden is able to do this, he'll be a solid left handed starter for the A's. As for him being a top of the rotation starter, he's the perfect No. 3 starter. But due to injuries and the youth, he is the No. 1 starter for the A's and has done quite well.
Still, he needs to step up once he has two strikes on a hitter.