Anyone notice that Tim Hudson circa 2004 has turned into some kind of weird Ryan Franklin/Shigetoshi Hasegawa circa 2003 mixture? After his win today, he’s 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA, right in line with his usual dominating career. But look at his peripherals; 3.95 strikeouts per nine innings? Among the 92 pitchers who qualified for the ERA title last year, only Danny Graves and Nate Cornejo posted strikeout numbers lower than that. Usually, a strikeout rate like that indicates some kind of red flag warning, especially considering Hudson’s rate last year was 6.08 K/9. But, looking further, Hudson’s pitching really, really well:
7.55 innings per start.
.39 HR/9 IP. Seriously, he’s allowing a home run every third start.
1.32 BB/9 IP. On pace for 36 walks on the season.
1.07 baserunners per inning.
2.29 GB/FB ratio.
.252 batting average against on balls in play.
He’s pitching deep into games, keeping everything in the park, and not letting runners reach base thanks to being an extreme groundball pitcher and getting some help from his defense. With the emergence of Roy Halladay in Toronto as a super efficient innings horse who uses his defense and the resurgence of low strikeout veterans Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel in New York, I’m wondering if Rick Peterson and the A’s pitching gurus figured something out about how to pitch. The old adage is that strikeouts are gold for pitchers, but if they’ve found a way to get outs without working deep into counts, allowing their starters to pitch huge innings totals without heavy workloads, the M’s won’t be catching the A’s this decade.