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A flop in Boston, Brad Penny thriving back in NL

Apr 26, 2010, 2:48 PM EDT

After pitching for the Giants in the second half last season Brad Penny shut out his former teammates for seven innings last night, improving to 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA on the year.
Penny looks to be the latest in a long line of veteran starters who turned things around and had more success than ever before under Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, with Joel Pineiro and Kyle Lohse providing the most recent examples.
Of course, Penny’s resurgence actually dates back to last year, before hooking up with Duncan in St. Louis. He pitched his way out of the Dodgers’ plans by going 6-9 with a 6.27 ERA in 2008 and then flopped in Boston with a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts, at which point the Red Sox released him.
Penny signed on with the Giants and went 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA in four starts down the stretch, which was enough for the Cardinals to give him $7.5 million in guaranteed money this offseason. Suddenly that looks like a bargain, because Penny is now 7-1 with a 1.92 ERA in his last 10 starts, walking just 12 batters in 70.1 innings. Penny had plenty of success for the Marlins and Dodgers before falling apart in 2008, so obviously returning to the NL has helped.
Beyond that, Duncan has him throwing more strikes and inducing more ground balls than ever before, which is a huge change for a pitcher who basically just tried to blow hitters away with his mid-90s fastball for the first 10 years of his career. So far this season Penny has thrown his fastball just 51 percent of the time, which is big drop compared to his career rate of over 70 percent.
He obviously won’t be this good all season, but Duncan has worked similar magic with similar pitchers before and while a sub-1.00 ERA is flukishly amazing much of Penny’s improvement can be traced to what seems to be a legitimate change in approach.

  1. Nick C - Apr 26, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Aaron you are better than this. The implication in your article is that Penny can only have success in the NL. Your article fails to mention that Penny struggled through 2008 and the first half of 2009 because of a shoulder injury. Yes there is a legitimate change of approach under Duncan but the reality is that Penny is healthy once again.

  2. Fast Eddy - Apr 26, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    Lohse, are you kidding? He is the weakest link on that staff. Look at the stats, and look at his injuries. He will never put it togeather. He may have one or two good games a season, thaen crash the rest of the time. We had him with the Reds and he never got on track. Very spotty performer and not an asset for anyone.

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