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The Problem with Bronson Arroyo

Yep, this another article about Bronson Arroyo.  It seems like they are everywhere these days

Justin did some good analysis at Basement Dwellers that I think covers the main concerns about Arroyo, so I'm not going to rehash everything he had to say.  My concern here is not so much what is ailing Arroyo as what might be going through the collective head of the Reds brass right now.  Let's take a look at some numbers:

Bronson Arroyo's first 17 starts per year
Year IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA AVG OBP SLG
2007 105 120 64 57 36 71 9 4.89 .288 .348 .428
2008 87 115 69 63 33 82 17 6.52 .321 .379 .547
2009 103 121 74 67 41 54 21 5.85 .299 .367 .511

 

Bronson Arroyo's last 17 starts per year
Year IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA AVG OBP SLG
2007 105 112 45 42 27 85 19 3.58 .272 .328 .473
2008 113 104 47 43 35 81 12 3.42 .248 .309 .402

As you can see, over the last two seasons, Arroyo has been less than stellar in the first half of the season.  In fact, his results in 2008 were much worse through 17 starts than they have been so far this year.  In each of the past two seasons, Arroyo has posted much better results in the 2nd half of the year than he did in the first half. 

That's what the Reds are facing right now with Arroyo.  They have to be wondering, "Is he going to suddenly get his act together like he has the last two years?"  Should they just wait him out like they have in the past and hope that he turns his season around?

This is what I'm concerned about.  On the surface, it looks like he might be worth holding on to based on past performances.  However, the problem is that when you go one level deeper, Arroyo's numbers don't line up with the previous two years:

Year BABIP SO% BB% HR/9 FIP
2007 .330 15.1% 7.7% 0.77 4.08
2008 .378 20.1% 8.1% 1.76 5.06
2009 .303 11.7% 8.9% 1.84 6.11

In each of the past two years, his FIP through the first half has been lower than his ERA by a considerable amount.  This gave us some indication that Arroyo was going to turn things around a bit.  However, this year, his much lower K-rate coupled with a higher walk-rate and higher HR-rate leaves some serious cause for concern.  Add in the fact that he has a rather normal BABIP compared to an inflated one in past seasons, and I have a hard time imagining that it's going to get better.  I've defended Arroyo at this point in the season each of the last two years.  This year, I'm not so sure that stance is prudent.

I honestly don't know what to do with him though.  I think the safest move is to put him on the DL and see if he can figure something out in a non-game situation.  I can't imagine that trading him is an option.  With his carpal tunnel syndrome that will likely lead to surgery in the off-season, and the $17+ million he's still owed on his contract, you have to figure there aren't many teams interested in him right now.  I'm still not convinced that any of the pitchers in the minors are better options for 2009, so unless Arroyo can bring the Reds a decent bat (perhaps in a challenge trade), I wouldn't trade him just to dump him. 

Then again, who knows?  Arroyo's a weird dude and he usually bucks the trend of predictability.  He could come out and post a sub-3.00 ERA in the second half.  You just never know with this guy.  And that's the problem.