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Whatever happened to Trevor Cahill?

Jul 22, 2011, 9:20 PM EDT

Trevor Cahill Getty Images

After three straight solid starts in a row, Trevor Cahill was just torched for a career-high 10 runs in two-plus innings by the Yankees on Friday night.  He gave up five runs in a second inning that only ended because Derek Jeter was thrown out at third after tagging up on a sac fly and then five more without getting an out in the third.

Cahill opened the season 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA.  He outpitched his peripherals as part of a surprising 18-win season in 2010, but this time around, his strikeout rate was well up and he surrendered just three homers in his first eight starts.  His K/BB ratio stood at 45/16 in 52 1/3 innings.

Things have gone very wrong since.  In his last 14 starts, he has a 56/42 K/BB ratio and he’s allowed 10 homers in 83 2/3 innings.

Velocity is one problem.  He averaged 90.4 mph with his fastball last year, and he was right around there at the beginning of this season.  However, he’s averaged closer to 86-89 mph lately and he’s down to 89.1 mph for the season, according to data.

Also a concern is the regression of his curveball.  Based on a couple of early-season viewings, I thought it was turning into the strikeout pitch he needed and I got quite a bit more bullish on his future as a result.  Unfortunately, he’s no longer throwing it for strikes or getting swings and misses with it.

It’s possible Cahill is hurting and just hasn’t told anyone about it.  The erosion of both his command and velocity suggests it.  But hopefully that’s not the case.  As stated above, Cahill had turned in three straight quality starts coming into this one.  Still, he’s an A’s pitcher and it’s never a good idea to give one of them the benefit of the doubt.

  1. proudlycanadian - Jul 22, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    This game is not over by any means. Hughes has been equally bad and has exited early.

    • Kevin S. - Jul 22, 2011 at 9:34 PM

      They have four innings to make up seven runs.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 22, 2011 at 10:01 PM

        Luckily they brought in Neosi.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Jul 23, 2011 at 7:46 PM

      how did that work out for ya proudly? LOL

  2. JBerardi - Jul 22, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    He’s a young pitcher for the A’s, so yeah, he’s hurt. Major surgery within 18 months. You heard it here first.

  3. mongome - Jul 22, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    Barry Zito itis, not good, no known cure yet.

  4. Brian Murphy - Jul 22, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    It doesn’t absolve him, but you have to take into account for tonight’s start that the first-pitch temperature was 102, and it is humid.

  5. spudchukar - Jul 22, 2011 at 10:14 PM

    This outing has to be very disappointing for the Yanks. To be at home, staked to an early cushion, and facing the woeful A’s offense, Hughes still couldn’t get through five. It has to be disconcerting to the Pin Stripe faithful, who were hoping desperately for a return to 2010 form for the young hurler.

    • Kevin S. - Jul 22, 2011 at 10:16 PM

      It was. Definitely had hoped Hughes could build on his last start, but there wasn’t anything there tonight.

    • deathmonkey41 - Jul 22, 2011 at 10:25 PM

      I’m hoping it was the heat- balls seemed to be traveling in this disgusting weather, but who knows?

  6. yankeesfanlen - Jul 22, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    This must be a combination of things. Cahill was 0-3 vs Yanks anyway with 9+ ERA. Great weather for hitters on both sides. Hughes should have been left in for the win.
    And it proves there’s nothing like power hitting, Yanks need BATS.
    46000+ fans came in 102 degree heat, the rest of us watched under better conditions.

  7. APBA Guy - Jul 23, 2011 at 12:58 AM

    Le Lapin Blanc (in honor of Le Tour) is regressing as expected. Some of the sabermetric guys had him predicted for the year at 3.70 ERA based on his absurd BABiP from last year, which was frankly unsustainable, coming back to league average or thereabouts this year.

    The whole A’s team seems spooked by the Yankees, The A’s are 1-10 in their last 11 and their play, particularly on the right side of the infield, is simply amateurish.

    As to Cahill’s velocity, I haven’t seen too much indication of an overall decline. What I have seen is an inability to spot any of his fastballs (two seam or sinker, and 4 seam) and as a result he’s taking a little off to reduce the uncontrollable movement. When he does that he leaves the ball up and centered (like with Swisher). The A’s are moving their staff away from the bigger curve, believing that they won’t get consistent calls on that pitch, and worrying about the torque it puts on young elbows. But a hard slider torques as much, and that’s the pitch they’re teaching, so not sure about the positive impact of that philosophy.

  8. uyf1950 - Jul 23, 2011 at 5:31 AM

    Miserable weather, temperature wise. I’m not ready to throw in the towel on Hughes yet. Was it a ugly outing, of course. Ugly on both sides. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the heat had at least something to do with it. The Yankees could use another starter but that’s been the case since spring training. This rotation regardless of how well they perform the remainder of they year will only take them so far come the playoffs. Still 8 days until the trade deadline let’s wait and see what happens until them. BTW, regardless of the offensive outburst by the Yankees last night I still think they could use a bat as well. To have a DH (Posada) that’s batting .224 with his overall numbers can’t continue. But, on the bright side the Yankees won so it wasn’t all bad last night.

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