Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey compiled a 11-12 record last season with a 3.49 ERA in 209 innings. In 2012, he was 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA. This season he has taken a step back: 3-3 in nine starts with a 5.44 ERA. Is it time to panic?
A quick check of his velocity shows everything appears to be normal: his “hard stuff” is clocking in at 95 mph and neither his off-speed or breaking pitches show any red flags.
Against right-handed hitters, Bailey has been pretty good. He has struck out 33 in 125 at-bats and has limited them to 0.727 on-base plus slugging. Lefties, however, have been a different story.
Bailey has faced 96 left-handed hitters so far this season but has yielded a 1.055 OPS against them. According to BrooksBaseball, lefties are finding success with every pitch except his slider this season.
|Pitch Type||Pitches Thrown||BAA||SLG||ISO||BABIP|
Bailey appears to be struggling with his control as well. Last season, he struck out 8.6 batters per nine innings and had a 3.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. This year those are 8.1 and 2.6, respectively.
Control issues and being lit up by lefties don’t paint a bright outlook, but there is one metric that should come back down to earth and help stabilize his performance: home runs per fly-ball ratio. This season, 18.4 percent of the fly balls in play have left the yard, his highest rate since the 2008 season. The increase in the percentage of ground balls is also a good sign.
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer with Bailey. His control issues and inability to keep lefties from doing their best Johnny Mize impressions are concerning, but he should see fewer home runs hit the rest of the way. I wouldn’t hit the panic button yet but keep it close.